A caricature of how philanthropy stimulated social change in “the good old days,” derisively called Philanthropy 1.0, describes the process this way: first, private funding helped successfully develop an innovation; the innovation then gained recognition; and finally the government rushed in to adopt it and take it to scale. (If you build a better mouse-trap, the world will beat a path to your door.) In the cynical modern perspective, this process of adoption, if it ever really happened, stopped with the Great Society programs of the Johnson administration.

Today, in the supposedly more complicated age of Philanthropy 2.0, program sustainability is thought to derive from complex business plans (e.g., combining government support with earned revenue and public fundraising) or from political advocacy processes, including stakeholder capacity development, lobbying, and ultimately, legislative action.

But the world is wide, and every once in a while, if you do build a better mousetrap, work hard to polish it, connect it to stakeholders, and remain patient—the world will come to your door. This week we are celebrating a new partnership with the National Institute on Aging, our third, to sustain the Jahnigen and the Williams career development awards, two programs pioneered by the Hartford Foundation over the last 10 years through a new R03 award mechanism entitled GEMSSTAR—Grants for Early Medical/Surgical Subspecialists’ Transition to Aging Research.

Our theory of what we need to do in order to achieve our mission (improve the health of older Americans) includes advancing the competence of all physicians, nurses, and social workers as well as improving the delivery systems in which they work. To achieve increased physician competence, we pursue two main strategies: first, we support the development of academic geriatrics and geriatricians to produce a specialist cadre and platform for education, research, and service development in elder care; and second, we strive to promote leadership and training in aging in all of the other fields of medicine, which also have a critical role in caring for older Americans.

Given the complexity of the health problems that come with aging, it should come as no surprise that older adults are major beneficiaries of physician services across many specialty disciplines, including cardiology, oncology, emergency medicine, orthopedic surgery, ophthalmologic surgery, and others. However, all of these fields suffer from big knowledge gaps with regard to the care of older adults, and these gaps need to be filled. We also believe that every specialist physician should have some basic familiarity with geriatric principles so that he or she can deliver the highest quality care to older patients.

Central to our non-geriatrics strategy have been our twin initiatives in the surgically related disciplines and the specialties of internal medicine, as detailed in our 1999 Annual Report.  Since that time, these initiatives have grown from outreach efforts aimed at the professional societies, their members, and major stakeholders to comprehensive initiatives that include leadership development within the surgery-related and internal medicine specialties through the Jahnigen and Williams awards, respectively.

The GEMSSTAR program will be the cornerstone of the new partnership between the Foundation and the NIA, wherein the NIA provides the bulk of funding for research support and the Foundation, professional societies, and sponsoring institutions provide the mentoring, networking, protected time, and other training needed for career development. The resulting scholars will provide leadership through their research, educational efforts, and influence within their various specialty fields.

There are many people to thank from the long history that led to this partnership, and I’m sure to leave some out due to ignorance or inadvertence, but let me give it a shot:

From NIA: Marie Bernard, Robin Barr, Evan Hadley, Chyren Hunter, and Basil Eldadah;

From ASP/AAIM: Kevin High, Jeff Halter, Ken Schmader, Charlie Clayton, Erika Tarver, and Nancy Wollard;

From AGS/SEGUE: David Solomon, John Burton, Jeff Silverstein, George Drach, Nancy Lundeberg, and Janis Eisner;

And of course we achieve what measure of success we do thanks to the visionaries who began this work: Dennis Jahnigen, Laura Robbins, William Hazzard, and Donna Regenstreif.

Thank you all.