Letter: Grants for innovations in aging | PostIndependent.com

Letter: Grants for innovations in aging

It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention.

Innovation can spring from a wide variety of personal and social needs. Sometimes innovative products make life more fun; often innovative concepts make life easier; occasionally innovations become part of our social function. When it comes to the aging space, innovation can and should be specific to the lifestyle of those who are growing older. While there are shared physical and social needs among older adults, the ability of a person in an urban center to meet those needs may look quite different from the ability of a person living in a rural community.

At NextFifty Initiative, we recently opened our grant cycle to focus on funding organizations that are addressing aging needs. From technology to transportation, from social infrastructure to housing, the ever-growing population over age 50 has needs and desires that require creativity to be met. We want to make sure we are reaching seniors in rural Colorado by supporting the nonprofits and government entities that have presence in these communities. Aging isn’t limited to geography, and it’s important to us that our grants serve all areas of Colorado.

According to a report from the Housing Assistance Council in October 2014, “Rural America is ‘older’ than the nation as a whole and more than one-quarter of all seniors live in rural and small-town areas.” The report also states that, “Rural America accounts for a significant portion of the country’s elderly population. In 2010, 25.5 percent of the nation’s seniors lived in rural areas, comprising 15.5 percent of the rural population.”

These statistics are important to understand. The requirements of seniors in rural areas are unique. NextFifty Initiative was created to find and assist nonprofits and government entities that seek creative solutions to growing needs. Whether it is to assist in housing, bring new transportation options to market, or enhance social engagement, we want to hear about these organizations, vet them, offer funding, and help them succeed.

For those with an entrepreneurial spirit, this call for innovation is a ripe opportunity. Whether it is a business model that works well in urban areas that can be expanded into rural areas or a rural-centric concept, what needs are you seeing in your community? Do you know an organization positioned to apply for a grant? Visit http://www.next50initiative.org for funding guidelines and to apply for a grant.

Margaret Franckhauser

President & CEO, NextFifty Initiative