Spotlight on Innovation: Rise & Shine for Mini Grants and Crisis Funds

We're highlighting the cutting-edge programs and successful strategies used by the 2018 recipients of n4a's Aging Innovations Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week we're focusing on Senior Connection Center, Inc., winner in the Home & Community-Based Services category.

Since 2016, Senior Connection Center has hosted a Rise & Shine Awards Breakfast, combining a celebration of the accomplishments and contributions of older adults in the community with education on the services offered by Senior Connection Center. Funds collected at the event are used for two newly created programs—Mini Grants and a Crisis Fund.
Through its Mini Grants, Senior Connection Center awards a monetary amount to local organizations to help leverage their existing resources to support older adults in the community. With its Crisis Fund, Senior Connection Center provides one-time assistance to older adults and individuals living with disabilities who have encountered a crisis for which there are no other community resources available. Senior Connection Center's Elder Helpline staff is trained to identify and refer clients to apply for grant funding.
The Rise & Shine Awards Breakfast began after Senior Connection's Elder Helpline staff expressed concern after experiencing challenges in identifying resources to help the many older adults who need assistance, particularly those who have encountered an unexpected crisis. The annual event includes five awards that recognize local older adults and their achievements, an award presented to the Senior-Friendly Business of the Year, and a video about Senior Connection Center and how it helps older adults and people with disabilities live with independence and dignity. Over the past three years, the Senior Connection Center has been able to leverage crisis funds with support from the WellMed Charitable Foundation as well as other grants and donations. For agencies looking to implement a similar program, Senior Connection Center recommends business sponsorships, affordable ticket pricing, videos and a breakfast event.
Through the four Mini Grants, local nonprofits have leveraged volunteer support and donations to build 26 wheelchair ramps and seven sets of half-height stairs. In addition, 85 clients received emergency food supplies, 336 were given emergency food boxes, 500 received home-delivered meals after Hurricane Irma, 38 received utility bill payment assistance and 248 received SNAP application assistance. The Crisis Fund provided 20 older adults or adults with disabilities with one-time assistance for transportation, utility payments, pest control services and appliance repairs.
To learn more about this year's winners, read our press release and check out our book of winners to learn how your agency can implement this or similar programs in your community!



USAging Fact: Learn about your peers’ work—and how it can fit into your agency’s goals! The AIA Awards recognizes successful and innovative programs that USAging members have developed to serve older adults. Get inspiration from our 2023 winners!