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By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

– Benjamin Franklin

Investing time and energy into planning a high-quality intergenerational shared site will greatly enhance the likelihood of success. Planning is an inclusive process that involves obtaining input from key stakeholders, including staff; older adults and caregivers; children and their parents or caregivers; your board; experts in aging, child development and education; funders; key local government agencies; community organizations; and a diverse group of community members. The information you gather can guide you in your decision-making and help you determine if a shared site is feasible.

Planning involves developing and implementing organizational and community assessments and based on that data, making key decisions about how to move forward. An organizational assessment is a planned systematic review of an organization’s processes, work environment, and organizational structure. A community assessment is a process of identifying the strengths, assets, needs and challenges of a specified community. Both are needed in order to move forward.

2.1 Getting Started

Before starting your assessment, it is important to increase your understanding of the benefits and challenges of intergenerational shared sites. You can find a number of excellent shared site reports on the Generations United website. If possible, try to visit several shared sites in your area or around the country to better understand the range of management/staffing, design, and programmatic options you might consider.

Once you decide you want to explore this concept further, it is time to develop a planning committee. Although the idea of bringing generations together in one place is often initiated by a strong champion such as the owner of a facility, a teacher, administrator, civic leader, or volunteer, turning this vision into a reality requires others who have the skills, experience, and determination to move the process forward.

A planning committee can be either an internal committee composed primarily of administrators, board members and staff, or a larger group that includes key staff and board members as well as representatives from social service agencies, media, foundations, the business community, educators, and community residents/leaders. Depending on the size and complexity of your endeavor, you may want to create sub-committees to address specific issues (e.g., assessment, marketing and fundraising, site selection and design).

The following are some questions the planning committee might discuss as they begin to think about developing an intergenerational shared site. Although some of the answers may change as you move through the planning process, it is important to begin by envisioning where you want to go.

Creating a clear vision statement that is aligned with your organizational mission and values will help guide your work. Here is a sample vision statement from Ebenezer Ridges, a shared site in Minnesota:

The vision of the program is to bridge the generation gap – forming bonds that transcend differences in age and ability. We strive to provide children and seniors on campus with an opportunity to foster meaningful relationships through participation in daily shared activities, including creative arts programs.