Want to Recruit Younger People? Look Within

Want to Recruit Younger People? Look Within

For the past five years, I’ve been working as an advocate for the causes I believe in and for more intergenerational collaboration. Young people like me want more opportunities to work across generations for change, but we also want to be treated as equals.  To...

ASU Lodestar Center Wants Cogenerational Service to Become the Norm

Executive Director Robert Ashcraft says the idea of breaking down generational barriers “had an irresistible gravitational pull”

By Sarah McKinney Gibson | Jun 6, 2023

Members of the inaugural class of ASU Lodestar Center’s 2023 “Cogen Service Academy,” (left to right) - Chris Elliott, Jill Bernstein, Marie Sanyang discuss the power of cogenerational service as they identify topics for community issues of mutual interest that will serve as the focus of five paired teams.

Members of the inaugural class of ASU Lodestar Center’s 2023 “Cogen Service Academy,” (left to right) – Chris Elliott, Jill Bernstein, Marie Sanyang discuss the power of cogenerational service as they identify topics for community issues of mutual interest that will serve as the focus of five paired teams.

What is your program called, and how does it work?

The ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Innovation is focused on helping nonprofit leaders and philanthropists in our community realize their highest aspirations and accelerate their social impact.

The CoGenerational Service Academy at the Center engages older and younger community members of diverse backgrounds, allowing them to learn from each other and solve community problems through innovative, co-created solutions. During this pilot year, we have five age-diverse pairs working together to design and enact a community solution through service. 

Why did you want to be part of Generations Serving Together, bringing cogeneration into national service?

Our Center has a long history of advancing a variety of national service efforts. The idea of breaking down generational barriers to leverage the wisdom and innovation made possible when elders and youngers work together for the common good had an irresistible gravitational pull.

What problem is your program trying to solve?

The focus of our Academy isn’t on one specific community issue. We’re creating space for effective problem-solving and to change the social norm from generations apart to generations together. The five pairs are working on a variety of issues, including education, homelessness, environmental sustainability and mental health. 

For example, Jill Bernstein and Marie Sunyoung, a boomer and Gen Z pair who share a common interest in mental health, are co-creating a podcast to provide knowledge and tools to advance understanding, community wellness and mental health equity. 

What’s the value of a cogenerational approach?

The cogenerational approach is a perfect marriage of the smarts, energy and passion of young folks with the wisdom, expertise and experience of older folks. Fusing them together unlocks potential for profound, positive results.

What’s your big, audacious vision? If you succeed, what change will we see? 

Our big vision is that cogenerational approaches become the expected design principle for organizations looking to engage community members in solving their toughest and most identifiable community issues. We believe this will reduce ageism, polarization and social isolation for those involved. 

How can people get involved with your work?

Anyone interested in our CoGenerational Service Academy can learn more and declare interest in joining our efforts here

Favorite way to wind down and relax?

Spending time unplugged, in nature, helps me recalibrate all things physical and mental. Works every time!