These theories and core concepts below serve as the foundation for PowerUP!
- Holistic Experience: PowerUP! is structured to be an integrated, holistic experience that engages and empowers the whole of everyone involved: collective mind, body, and spirit. Staff and volunteers are inter-dependent and must participate in all phases of activity (planning, development and implementation). The playing field must be level to all providing equal access and opportunity to contribute to achieve desired ends.
- Shared Vision: PowerUP! is founded on a community development model involving community-based study and research. The model requires a shared vision, commitment to the vision, and buy-in by all segments of the community including opinion leaders and influencers. The shared vision is maintained through teachable skills of collaboration, teamwork, and adherence to transparency and inclusiveness.
- Abundance: An attitude of abundance transforms our thinking about aging and ways to engage and lead volunteers. Valuing and investing in the asset age and smartly directing it toward the social good, produces a proven high rate of return.
- Evidence and Accountability: Documentation of successes and outcomes builds trust and serves as a powerful outreach and funding tool. Assessment and evaluation are necessary to be accountable to—and recognized by—participants, partners, supporters, and the community at large.
- Partnership: Partnerships provide a balance of exchange (each brings assets and recognizes each other’s contributions) and power (fostering collaboration rather than control). Defining this exchange strengthens the relationship bonds among partners, increases clarity of roles and expectations, smooths the path for mutually satisfying solutions, produces rapid progress toward goals, and leads to high satisfaction levels. Defining partnership through mutual exchange and benefit expands capacity to get more important work done.
When implemented with fidelity to the model’s core principles, PowerUP! is empowering and transformative for participants, organizations and communities and results in:
- Measurable Impact and Quantifiable Impact: The cohesiveness and unifying power of the model is its focus on a critical issue or insurmountable problem of such significance that suffering, disempowerment, disenfranchisement, or poverty may result. For organizations, the issue or problem may be lack of capacity to meet its mission or result in people being unserved, resources or goodwill lost, or capacity diminished. Impact can either be social or organizational
- Social Impact: Organizations identify unmet, mission-critical needs of the people they serve. They define the need and assesses its significance in meriting solution. Needs are stated in quantifiable, measurable terms and describe how it makes a real difference in providing solutions to real problems such as keeping people living independently, feeding the hungry, keeping people safe, preventing exploitation and abuse.
- Organizational Impact: Organizations define an organizational capacity need that limits their effectiveness or impedes progress toward fulfilling their mission. Such needs may be fund development, automation, staff development, business practices, etc. namely key organizational capacity issues that reduce effectiveness.
- Alignment: To effectively utilize adults 55+ as a resource to meet critical needs or expand organizational capacity, leading organizations must intentionally align participant interests, values, needs, and skills with the priority issues and needs of the organization and community served. Nonprofit leaders realize that for engaged adults to be instrumental in meeting organizational priorities and goals they must be fully integrated into the fabric of the organization where they become “counterparts” and extensions of staff. Aligning and integrating these distinct interests of participant and organizations establishes a framework for mutual exchange through which participants flourish and their effective engagement adds significant, demonstrable value to achieving tangible organizational results.
- Empowered Participation: When participation is defined by mutual interest, respect, and exchange, it sparks generativity personally and organizationally. Operating standards must reflect the experiences and expectations of the 55+ cohort such as acknowledging the personal and professional importance of engagement; professionalizing the management by collaborative, not authoritarian, leaders; providing opportunities to influence the direction and implementation of projects and the organization; offering personal and professional development; encouraging leadership engagement within the organization, and fostering collegiality and meaningful relationships. This sets an aspirational end similar to personal self-actualization that team and organization works toward, establishes an interdependent relationship between team and sponsor/cooperating organization and fosters collaboration.
- Capacity-building: Volunteer teams, working with increasing independence serving in capacity-building roles increase the organizations means to meet a critical, measurable service or organizational need. Working collectively (Teams/Task Forces add people and increase the skill and talent level of the organizations to do its job. Through the team experience, members become personally empowered and gain greater confidence. Organizations strive to identify and develop participants with the interest, commitment, and skills to assume sustaining or leadership roles. Increasing volunteer leadership capability, while requiring collaboration and oversight, enables program leaders and staff to work on organizational priorities and develop new programs and services which, in turn, attracts additional resources.
- Connectedness: Understanding the foundations of relationships (such as nurturing trust and positive, productive communications) as well as using formal and informal processes (such as sharing responsibility for project design and development, creating “engagement ladders”, skill development and training, and developing leadership among participants) builds strong, sustained involvement and increases commitment. Intentionally creating a “culture of connectedness” though which mutual trust and exchange increases satisfaction and produces tangible organizational results.
- Cultural Competency: Valuing and fostering inter-cultural understanding and building partnerships across diverse cultures results in more appropriate and effective services to minority populations. Groups working collaboratively must reflect the community it is working in and be representative of all segments of the community (public, business, non-profit) as well as the socio-economic strata of the community. In addition to skills, the team needs representative voices from all sides of the need or issues being address especially that low income, vulnerable, at risk elders being served. Teams also bridge various sectors and segments of the community by focusing on meeting a critical need.