Three new grants totaling almost $950,000 have been approved by The John A. Hartford Foundation Board of Trustees to support partnerships that will accelerate improvements in our family caregiving program area, as well as strengthen aging-focused philanthropy more generally.

Our latest grants build on our work to improve care of older adults through partnerships with grantees in each our programmatic areas: creating age-friendly health systems, supporting family caregivers, and improving serious illness and end-of-life care. Partnerships with other funders are also critical to success and we work diligently to engage as many foundations as possible.

A New Resource to Support Family Caregivers of People with Dementia

Under a $498,635, two-and-a-half-year grant, The John A. Hartford Foundation will partner with the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, the Family Caregiving Alliance, and experts in dementia caregiving to develop a web-based resource that helps health and social service organizations compare and select evidence-based caregiver support programs for implementation.

This grant addresses a serious gap in current care for family caregivers. Many dementia caregiving support programs have been developed in the past two decades that can help minimize adverse effects on the physical and emotional health, finances, and family relationships of caregivers. However, the 2016 Families Caring for an Aging America report from the National Academies reveals that most health and social services organizations have not incorporated any of these programs into their offerings. The result is an unnecessary lack of access to desperately needed support for the estimated 8.5 million family members and friends in the United States who serve as caregivers for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

The online resource will provide detailed information on approximately 50 dementia caregiving programs. It will include information on key findings from research studies that established a program’s evidence base, and practical information from real-world experiences of organizations and providers that have implemented a program outside of a controlled research study. Organizations serving family caregivers need this information to select programs that best match their own particular context, resources, and target populations.

We are very proud to be working with our project leaders and their outstanding organizations on this grant, which evolved from our John A. Hartford Foundation Change AGEnts Initiative and its Dementia Caregiving Network. This includes David Bass, PhD, senior vice president of research and education, and his colleagues at the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging; Kathleen Kelley, executive director at the Family Caregiver Alliance, which will serve as the online home for the new resource to be developed over the next two years; and Katie Maslow, visiting scholar at the Gerontological Society of America, who also brings decades of deep expertise in dementia caregiving issues. 

Supporting Stronger Aging Philanthropy

In each of its areas of programmatic emphasis, The John A. Hartford Foundation works with other funders to share ideas and lessons about what works, as well as to generate additional investments. Instrumental to forming collaborations is Grantmakers In Aging (GIA), a membership organization of funders that The John A. Hartford Foundation helped establish in 1982.

The board approved a renewal grant of $265,750 over three years that will provide operational support to GIA to continue increasing the impact of aging-related philanthropy. This support will focus on strengthening GIA’s communications, outreach, education, and convening in order to foster collaboration among its more than 100 members.

Like other professional membership organizations, GIA is a “home” for us and other foundation staff who share a common passion for improving the lives of older people. Through its annual conference, educational webinars, issue briefs, and other programming, GIA conducts outreach to attract other foundations to the aging field. Through these activities GIA also strengthens the work of its existing members by providing a platform for learning and leveraging each other’s experiences and investments.

Over the next three years, GIA will update and revise its website, continue its highly rated topical webinar series, host its annual conference, and conduct other activities that support and educate its members and the broader field of aging organizations. The result will be a stronger and more effective network of funders investing in aging issues and improving the lives of older adults.

Assessing the Impact of The John A. Hartford Foundation’s Grantmaking

A $185,000, one-year grant approved by the Trustees will provide the Foundation with an assessment of the outcomes and impact that its past three decades of grantmaking have had on the field of aging and health. The goal is to share lessons learned with other funders and the aging field. This historical review will focus on the Foundation’s support of the development of evidence-based models of care for older adults and its programs to increase the number of faculty in the disciplines of geriatric medicine, social work and nursing. The firm of Isaacs/Jellinek, a division of Health Policy Associates, Inc., has been selected to conduct the evaluation.

With these grants, The John A. Hartford Foundation continues its work in partnership with others to improve the care of older adults and their families. Whether it’s a specific focus on the special needs of family caregivers of older adults with dementia, or by strengthening aging philanthropy more generally, we look forward to working with many others to create a world where we can all age well.