connect / 2014

AGEnts for Change Initiative for Seniors in Los Angeles

AGEnts for Change Initiative for Seniors in Los Angeles

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by St. Barnabas Senior Services aka St. Barnabas Senior Center

We are training Seniors to be AGEnts for Change in Los Angeles to improve the lives of Older Adults in our City through advocacy.


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits a population of LA County)

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Central LA
  • Mid-City MacArthur Park Area, Hollywood and Echo Park

What is your idea/project in more detail?

The goal for the AGEnts for Change Initiative is to expand the impact of AGEnts advocacy and education activities through a recruitment, education and mobilization process that will engage a new team of lead AGEnts to educate key legislators, other seniors in Los Angeles, and the general community about issues facing the aging population.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

SBSS will build on its successful experience in creating and conducting the AGEnts for Change program. The primary goal for the 2nd generation (G2) of the AGEnts for Change Initiative is to expand the impact of AGEnts advocacy and education activities by launching a revitalized recruitment, education and mobilization process that will engage a new cadre of lead AGEnts who will in turn educate key legislators, other seniors in Los Angeles, and the general community about issues facing the aging population. In order to achieve this goal, SBSS will do the following: (1) Organize 5 recruitment events at identified sites in SBSS service area to engage the senior community. (2) Identify and recruit 12 -15 seniors to be trained as lead AGEnts. (3) Conduct 3 periodic meetings in which information and training will be provided to lead AGEnts to keep their skills current. (4) Coordinate 8 educational meetings with key legislators (federal, state, and local) on topics relevant to the senior community. (5) Produce and distribute four Video on Demand (VOD Casts) Issue statements. (6) Conduct 6 monthly communiqués including conference calls, emails, direct mail and newsletters distributed at the Senior Centers and community sites.

The need is great and with the right support, many older adults are willing and able to speak up for themselves and for the senior community at large.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to CONNECT today? In 2050?

St. Barnabas Senior Services (SBSS) initial AGEnts for Change Initiative achieved success in its first year of implementation. Due to the support of The SCAN Foundation, SBSS was able to recruit and train 32 seniors. Six emerged as lead advocates who actively informed key legislators, for-profit and non-profit organizations, and the general community about issues that are facing the senior population. Paramount to the success of the initiative was the empowerment of a diverse group of seniors who now take responsibility for educating themselves and others and can provide testament to their ability to positively impact their community. Over the past several months, SBSS and a few of the AGEnts have remained active in their pursuit of preserving safety net services for seniors. In particular, these AGEnts have continued to support the efforts of the Los Angeles Aging Advocacy Coalition (LAAAC) by attending meetings, participating in conference calls and educating key legislators. During these interactions, it has become even more apparent that the impact of SBSS AGEnts can be improved through an enhanced recruitment, education and mobilization process that will engage additional AGEnts for Change.

SBSS is in a strong position to initiate the enhancement of the AGEnts Initiative, not only because of its solid record of community engagement, but also as a direct result of the recent expansion of its service area to include the neighborhoods of Hollywood, Griffith Park, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village and Chevy Chase as served by the Hollywood Senior Multipurpose Center (HSMPC). This expansion has doubled SBSS’ geographic reach and increased the number of seniors served annually from 8,000 to nearly 18,000. This expansion has provided SBSS with the opportunity to reach an entirely new group of seniors who have the potential to become advocates for themselves and for the senior community. The diversity of this community will further strengthen the efforts of the AGEnts Initiative as SBSS is able to recruit and engage seniors who are representative of the cultural, linguistic and social richness of Los Angeles. Involving the growing senior population of Los Angeles in advocacy not only contributes to their well being, but helps make L.A. a great place in which to live and age with dignity. By 2050, our population of seniors will have increased dramatically and investing in sound policy and advocacy now, will contribute to a vibrant L.A. in 2050

Whom will your project benefit?

Our project specifically benefits all older adults living in Los Angeles and their families, by advocating for senior friendly public policy, programs and services that contribute to their independence, health and well being. Through a strong policy framework that supports seniors advocating for themselves, their voices are heard, their lives are enriched and L.A. itself becomes a better place to live.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

The SCAN Foundation continues to assist with funding for the AGEnts for Change Initiative and their advice as well as funding has been important to our project. In addition, the Los Angeles Ageing Advocacy Coalition is a significant policy partner to SBSS and the AGEnts for Change Initiative, bringing together over 50 organizations and individuals working together on policy issues impacting the lives of older adult residents of Los Angeles.

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Connect” metrics?

  • Rates of volunteerism
  • Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support
  • Government responsiveness to residents’ needs (Dream Metric)
  • Attendance at public/open street gatherings (Dream Metric)

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

The AGEnts for Change Initiative is a volunteer intensive program and through its efforts will increase the number of seniors involved as volunteers in policy and advocacy work in Los Angeles. In addition, the outcomes of the AGEnts for Change Initiative are specifically focused on impacting government responsiveness to senior issues, increasing services to seniors for social and emotional support among other needs and will stimulate attendance of seniors in public meetings.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

The AGEnts for Change Initiative will be evaluated against its objectives, three of which are specifically:

  1. The number of seniors that are recruited and trained as Lead AGEnts for Change.
  2. The number of educational meetings and policies influenced with key legislators.
  3. The completion of four Video on Demand Issue statements for distribution.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

  1. The experience of seniors who have become AGEnts for Change through SBSS. SBSS is in a strong position to initiate the enhancement of the AGEnts Initiative, not only because of its solid record of community engagement, but also as a direct result of the recent expansion of its service area to include the neighborhoods of Hollywood, Griffith Park, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village and Chevy Chase as served by the Hollywood Senior Multipurpose Center (HSMPC). This expansion has doubled SBSS’ geographic reach and increased the number of seniors served annually from 8,000 to nearly 18,000. This expansion has provided SBSS with the opportunity to reach an entirely new group of seniors who have the potential to become advocates for themselves and for the senior community. The diversity of this community will further strengthen the efforts of the AGEnts Initiative as SBSS is able to recruit and engage seniors who are representative of the cultural, linguistic and social richness of Los Angeles.

  2. Over the past several months, SBSS and a few of the AGEnts have remained active in their pursuit of preserving safety net services for seniors. In particular, these AGEnts have continued to support the efforts of the Los Angeles Aging Advocacy Coalition (LAAAC) by attending meetings, participating in conference calls and educating key legislators. During these interactions, it has become even more apparent that the impact of SBSS AGEnts can be improved through an enhanced recruitment, education and mobilization process that will engage additional AGEnts for Change.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

Our planning is complete, staffing is in place, our experience has been informative and we are ready to implement this project immediately. The only missing piece is sufficient funding.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

  1. Maintaining the knowledge level of Lead AGEnts for Change in a rapidly changing policy environment is a challenge. However, we have planned for this challenge by building in 3 periodic refresher sessions for the Lead AGEnts to keep them current on issues affecting Los Angeles Seniors.

  2. The changing environment of health, social, economic and policy issues that are currently impacting the lives of seniors and new unforeseen issues that may arise during the course of our work is a challenge. Our close working relationship with the Los Angeles Ageing Advocacy Coalition and its contact with the California Department of Aging leadership as well as local, state and national officials helps to keep SBSS and the AGEnts for Change Initiative program informed of recent and anticipated policy developments.

What resources does your project need?

  • Network/relationship support
  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Community outreach