Wisdom Works: Building Better Communities

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Phase:  

Building

Fostering Civic Engagement Among Older Adults

Use this to find best practices to help you build a volunteer program.

The Wisdom Works: Building Better Communities civic engagement program created new opportunities for older Americans to contribute to society and to educate the public about older adults’ vitality and potential. Wisdom Works funded eight programs to create self-directed, diverse teams of mature volunteers and, in the process, enhance senior volunteer leadership skills.

Senior volunteer teams identified critical problems in their community, selected the problem upon which they felt they could have the greatest impact, and developed strategies aimed at solving or minimizing it. The teams were encouraged to develop additional resources to address the community problem and create tangible results, thereby demonstrating the impact of the volunteer effort on the community.

The report describes pilot projects of eight Wisdom Works program awardees and overall recommendations.

Key findings across all programs addressed these:

  • Motivation for participation.
  • Project selection.
  • Team collaboration.
  • Team self-direction.

These critical factors common to successful programs were identified:

  • Needs-based program selection.
  • Realistic and feasible plans.
  • Training with volunteer improvement.
  • Intensive communications.
  • Teamwork values and empowerment.
  • Selective and limited staff involvement.

Also available, Wisdom Works Teams Continued Evaluation Results June 2010.

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