Eastern Michigan University’s Engage@EMU launches program to bridge the gap between old and young with Ypsilanti Intergenerational Community Solutions Institute

An older person of color's hands are gently held by a younger person's hands.

YPSILANTI – According to a 2017 Generations United and Eisner Foundation report, about 53% of American adults say that few people they regularly spend time with outside their family are much older or younger than they are. Age segregation has many negative impacts, like ageism and perpetuating racial, ethnic and political divides. To change this statistic, Eastern Michigan University’s Engage@EMU recently launched Ypsilanti Intergenerational Community Solutions Institute(YICSI) to reduce social isolation and improve health outcomes for all generations.

“We’re excited about the development and execution of YICSI because it creates a space for organizations and individuals to consider addressing social, cultural and economic challenges through an intergenerational lens.  Areas such as health and wellness, food and nutrition, climate change, gardening, literacy, mentoring, workforce development, technology, arts, and transmission of cultural traditions and knowledge may have a greater impact both individually and systemically when addressed intergenerational or co-generatively, with two or more generations working together in tandem” said, Decky Alexander, professor and director of academic engagement programs for Engage@EMU.

Engage@EMU, Generations United, and the Ypsilanti Senior Center are collaborating to facilitate the YICSI – an intergenerational training and design institute that will bring together key stakeholders in Washtenaw County for a series of gatherings to learn about intergenerational issues and plan intergenerational initiatives. The program will create a space for shared learning and collaboration in various capacities to advance intergenerational initiatives that will lead to more equitable health benefits. This project will help solidify the foundation for ongoing work in Washtenaw County with intergenerational and public health perspectives. 

Additionally, a $60,000 grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and partnerships with Generations United and Ypsilanti Senior Center will allow the institute to offer seed money to participants to pilot solutions to problems they've identified.

"With the funding we’ve received and the incentives provided by YICSI, older adults and young people can effectively collaborate to exchange what they do and don’t know,” said Alexander. "The theory is that if you put people of different 'bookends' of life together, they will hold up the rest of the world. There's such a great sense of hope and possibility."

For more information or to participate in a future information session, fill out the participation form here. Additional inquiries can be emailed to emu_engage@emich.edu.

About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 14,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

February 15, 2023

Written by:
Brittany Mobley

Media Contact:
Brittany Mobley