How Archstone Changes Perceptions of Aging through Journalism in California

Grantmaking for the elderly is a rare and niche topic that gets overlooked by many funders in the Los Angeles area. With housing, homelessness and education at the forefront of so many local funders’ minds, many senior citizens are left without access to programs and resources to pursue a better quality of life.

The California Department of Aging has estimated that the elderly demographic will expand 112 percent between 1990 and 2020. A couple of years ago, a USC study predicted that Los Angeles County will gain 867,000 senior citizens and lose 630,000 people under 25, following an explosion of immigration and growth. In response, the City of Los Angeles Department of Aging built 16 multipurpose senior centers throughout the city to assist with things like transportation, home-delivered meals, legal issues and health screenings.

With those numbers in mind, we turn our attention to the Archstone Foundation, a Southern California funder that exclusively awards grants to programs and organizations that assist older adults. This foundation has emerged as a local, regional and national force experienced grantmaking for the aging population, and its staff members regularly speak at events and presentations on elder care topics.

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Senior Program Officer Laura Rath, for example, had this to say about elder abuse at a recent workshop: “So, I know we’re all here today because we all believe that an advanced society can and must find solutions to the large- and small-scale problems stemming from elder abuse and neglect. And this is unfortunately a disturbing part of the lives of far too many Americans, and too many of our fellow citizens here in Long Beach, as well.”

Because of the growing Latino population in the Los Angeles area and throughout California, services for Latino seniors is key issue for funders. The Archstone Foundation has sponsored the New American Media and Gerontological Society of America program, the Journalism in Aging Fellowship, to support voices that speak up for older adults from diverse backgrounds.

There’s a big campaign called Reframing Aging to change the public’s perception of what growing old looks like in America today. Not only is the goal to shift public perception of aging, but also to shift grantmakers' perception. Grantmakers in Aging CEO John Feather said that foundations and charities spend less than two percent of grantmaking dollars on services and research for aging. This very small percentage hasn’t shown signs of increasing anytime soon either. “Americans don’t want to think about aging,” Feather explained.

Yet the Archstone Foundation has been active in this advocacy effort, alongside other foundations like Atlantic Philanthropies, the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, the John A. Hartford Foundation, and the Rose Community Foundation. A big part of Archstone’s strategy here is to support publications and journalism on aging to reverse negative language and change perceptions through discussions and information. You can search for specific grants and cities that Archstone has supported in its grants database.

For more information on this funder, check out IP’s full profile, Archstone Foundation: Los Angeles Grants.