Give 5 Senior Civic Engagement Program

by the City of Springfield, MO for the TLG 2019 Innovation Showcase program

Dec 19, 2018

Theme: Authentic Community Relations

Following a listening tour in Springfield's most under-resourced area, the City Manager's Office and Department of Public Information & Civic Engagement created the Give 5 program to maximize civic engagement in addressing identified challenges.

Five macro-trends informed the program’s creation:

1. 10,000 Baby Boomers are turning 65 and retiring every day for 19 years. They’re loaded with talent – and, for the first time in their lives, time – and are looking to retain meaning and purpose in their lives. 

2. The biggest health risk to seniors is social isolation.

3. Reductions in federal and state funding is widening service gaps. Communities will increasingly rely on volunteers to help fill those gaps, and community non-profits are increasingly in need of a sustainable funding model to continue to offer their services to the community and our citizens most in need.

4. The United States will soon experience the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world.

5. Based upon social capital studies, our community (like many communities) has strong levels of “bonding” social capital, but weak levels of “bridging” social capital.

Given all of these macro-level trends and indicators, "Give 5" was designed to.... 

• match retirees and senior citizens with unfilled volunteer opportunities in our community; 

• address the issues of isolation, purpose, and relevance that senior citizens often confront by celebrating them and their contributions in a fun and social manner; 

• introduce seniors to new people and new ways of thinking via a shared experience and the bonding that occurs as a result, thus strengthening our community’s “bridging” social capital; and 

• potentially, as a by-product, link individuals with their true passions (which could also result in sustainable funding (endowments) for our community’s non-profit organizations?    

The program turns the idea of retirement and volunteerism upside down and serves as a civic matchmaking effort to create authentic community connections - explaining the "why" of dire community needs and providing a look behind the curtain of all local governmental processes and proves the importance of true civic engagement.

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