Seniors in action

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Seniors in action

Warsaw, Poland
Project Stage:
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

“Seniors in action” is a nationwide grant competition which promotes intergenerational cooperation and volunteer work among senior citizens.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

People over 60 constitute 19% of the Polish population. Poles leave the labour market too early (at the age of 58 on average), which means that we have the youngest pensioners population in Europe. The research on the potential of elderly people in Poland demonstrates that they rarely become volunteers and are reluctant to join initiatives for local communities or sports and cultural activities. Their social involvement is usually limited to their close family. Only one in seven elderly people engage in any form of learning, according to the 2008 Report on Intellectual Capital of Poland. Since Polish society is getting older, the growing number of elderly is presented in public discourse as a problem and burden to society rather than an asset. Because of stereotypes, elderly people are perceived as disabled and in need of help, recipients of services rather than initiators and creators of interesting activities. This perception leads to self-discrimination and lower self-esteem among older generations. Applying for grants that support senior activities is complicated and requires complying with many procedures and formalities. It is a significant barrier for the elderly and their organisations. There is a clear shortage of micro-grants with simple grant-giving and reporting procedures available not just to big organisations, but mostly to small, grassroots initiatives for the elderly, both individuals and groups. Additionally, fewer and fewer people live in multigenerational families and it is becoming a challenge to create space and opportunity for contact between various generations in neighbourhoods and communities. Organisations that work with the youth or the elderly frequently become hermetical; they lack ideas and methods enabling them to work with various age groups. The distance between generations is growing (only 25% of the elderly perceive young people as friendly to them, according to a 2007 CBOS poll. Nowadays, the positions of “the Master” and “the Apprentice” are not based on age, but rather on skills and experience – qualities that people of all ages may have. This new situation requires openness to changing roles, as well as ability to listen and learn from each other. Both formal and informal education programs are missing any subjects related to building dialogue between generations - one of key competencies in aging societies.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The grant competition „Seniors in action” reinforces seniors' social activism, helps to put to use and strengthen the potential of those senior citizens who want to help others on the basis of their passions. The competition is carried out on a national level. Grants may be applied for by individuals aged 60 or over who want to launch socio-cultural projects for the benefit of local communities (initiatives promoting intergenerational cooperation, volunteer work among senior citizens and engaging elderly people into the life of local communities). Seniors may submit their projects alone or in cooperation with a younger person under 35. Every project should be implemented in cooperation with a selected local government institution or NGO. Our program is not an ordinary grant competition. Our work is based on the incubator model – during the workshops we help the participants develop and polish their ideas for activities, we stimulate the process of learning from each other and exchanging experiences between the program participants, we enable acquiring skills needed in work for local communities (intergenerational communication, working with a group, methods of promotion, creative workshops showing specific animation tools, e.g. graffiti workshops, guerrilla gardening, photography workshops etc.). The program's format is suited for the needs of senior citizens with little or no experience in writing grant applications and implementing social projects. Formalities are limited to the minimum. We award grants ranging from 5 000 – 12 000 PLN each to implement approx. 10-month-long projects. It is the only grant program in Poland focused on encouraging elderly leaders and introducing intergenerational cooperation already in the project management stage (submitting projects by seniors in cooperation with younger persons). The program's evaluation showed that the quality of supported projects is highly influenced by the program's friendly format and non-financial support. The participants take part in two several-day-long workshops, they may choose to go on a study visit allowing them to see the projects they are interested in. They may also invite experienced coaches from the network of Flying Cultural Animators and Sociologists ran by the Association of Creative Initiatives „ę”.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

- Zosia, a grandmother of three, opened Supergrandma School in Lublin to help grandparents in raising their grandchildren and to promote voluntary work of seniors for children. Based on the model created by Zosia and described in a published textbook, another schools were founded in 6 different cities and towns. - After retiring, Marta moved from Warsaw to Kaszuby region. Making use of her interest in fine arts, she launched a series of workshops for children from youth homes, engaging seniors and a local community. - Wanda, Seniors Club director and Magda, a choreographer (in private life: mother and daughter) created an intergenerational contemporary dance theater in Wałbrzych. Performances and outdoor dance happenings were presented at a festival in London and at the European Culture Congress in Wrocław. - Zdzisław worked as a miner. After he retired, he started riding a bicycle and decided to create a bicycle path connecting two historical districts of the city of Katowice. He involved elderly men and children into his project. There have been over 160 such stories in our program. Elderly and young leaders' actions start the process of change in local communities.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Poland has a very strong net of over 400 Universities of the Third Age (UTA) and these institutions focus on providing educational activities for seniors. We collaborate very closely with UTAs, we encourage these institutions to open up for cooperation with the community and promote voluntary work among their students. We encourage UTA students to submit their ideas to our grant competition and we organize special workshops for UTAs, presenting our working methods. In the last few years, municipal institutions called senior centers started emerging in large cities – they coordinate the flow of information on activities aimed at elderly citizens. We observe a huge potential of cooperation between senior centers and our program Alumni. Alumni may broaden the offer of the centers. In several Polish cities the Little Brothers of the Poor organization is active and successful – it develops an intergenerational voluntary work project aimed at lonely elderly individuals. In the future we would like to broaden our program to include activities carried out in elderly care homes and daily care institutions. We see the opportunity for learning from and cooperation with this organization.
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


Implementer(s) and cooperation partners

Association of Creative Initiatives ę


Non‐profit/NGO/citizen sector organization

Country where main implementer is located

, MZ, Warsaw

How long has the main implementer been operating?

More than 5 years

Please provide a short description of the main implementer.

Since 2002, we have been realizing socio-cultural project all over Poland. We train, give grants, publish books, create and promote new models of activity in the sphere of culture. Our goals are grouped in three themes: 1) Young Creatives Cooperative is an alternative production studio, in which we create good conditions for young creatives to develop. 2) Citizens In Action is a laboratory of socio-cultural projects. Within its framework, animateurs realize their own projects in their neighbourhoods, cities. 3) Open Cultural Sector is a think thank creating new solutions for culture.

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Cooperation partner

Institute of Applied Social Sciences, Warsaw University



How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? What competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?

The cooperation includes launching postgraduate studies „Organizing work with seniors” which will provide space for presenting the experience from our program „Seniors in action”. Support: contact with students who are interested in cooperation, a team of experts and theoretical knowledge.

Cooperation partner

The network of Flying Cultural Animators and Sociologists



How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?

This group of 30 coaches runs workshops that support projects awarded in our competition. They bring in their experience and practical skills in different areas, such as: culture animation, theater, working in public space, diagnosing the needs of communities, conflict solving, evaluation, etc...

Cooperation partner

Non-Governmental Organizations portal



How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative? provides media patronage, helps us promote the program and provides access to people representing organizations that are interested in working with seniors and intergenerational activities.

Cooperation partner

Please select

How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?

Approximately 50 words left (300 characters).

Problem and solution
Which of these fields of Active and Healthy Ageing are addressed by your initiative?

Social inclusion (intergenerational practice, work and volunteering).

If none of the above, answer here:
Please describe if and how your stakeholders (cooperation partners, funders, users, etc.) have been participating in defining the problem and developing the solution.

The program's format was worked out as the result of talks and consultations with the Polish-American Freedom Foundation which is funding the program. We meet regularly with the Foundation representatives to discuss the program's progress and negotiate necessary changes. In 2011, when our program was already in action for three years, we carried out a third-party evaluation that served as a basis for introducing changes in our methods. The participants of the program (elderly and young leaders and the organizations they cooperate with) expressed their opinions about the efficiency of the model of support that we proposed (through surveys, phone interviews, personal meetings). The analysis of the efficiency and stability of the projects that we support provided us with valuable information on the factors of success and difficulties faced while implementing the projects.
While carrying out the Program, we aim at gaining knowledge from the projects that we support. We invite program Alumni to take part in workshops in the form of a “Master Class”, aimed at deliberating together about different methods of work with local communities.

Has your solution been tested in trials, experimentations, or pilot projects? If yes, please describe the process and outcome.

The first edition of the program was carried out between 2008-2009 and was a pilot study. The Ę Association was already experienced in assisting young people in implementing their first social project. We were not sure, however, whether this formula would meet seniors' interest and whether we would be able to encourage young people to implement a project together with an elderly leader. Over 500 entries were submitted that year, which convinced us that we should focus our program on working with elderly and young leaders. After gaining experience from the first edition of the program, we also decided to invest more in know-how for the awarded projects. We broadened our program to include the ability to invite coaches from the network of Flying Cultural Animators and Flying Sociologists that we run, to cooperate. We also put a special note in the rules of the competition, encouraging projects submitted by elderly men in order to increase their number among the participants. The conclusion of our program's evaluation (2011) inspired us to develop activities aimed at the program Alumni to use more of their skills and experiences, as well as build a network of active leaders.

How long has your solution been in operation?

for more than 5 years

Please select the relationship between your solution and related solutions currently established in our society. Is your solution…

substitutive (your solutions is substituting existing solutions because they do not meet needs or solve the problem appropriately)

What barriers might hinder the success of your initiative? How do you plan to overcome them?

Participating in our program needs some effort (going through several recruitment stages, taking part in workshops) and grants that we award are not very high. Up to now, our Program has been the only nationwide grant program in Poland that is strictly concentrated on supporting senior activities and intergenerational cooperation. In 2012, big funds were put to work by the Government for this goal. It may result in lower interest in our competition. While promoting our competition, we plan to put more emphasis on non-financial support that we provide for the projects, the chance to develop and obtain new skills. So far, we have supported over 160 initiatives. Knowledge and experiences gained in the program are very valuable, but we need to arrange them and develop more ways of sharing our experience. Establishing cooperation with the Warsaw University in terms of launching post-graduate studies on organizing work with seniors seems a good course of action for arranging and presenting the experience gained through the program. We also currently work on launching a special website where all educational materials produced in the program will be collected.

Organization and funding
Regularly paid employees




External advisers and experts


Others (please specify)
What are the specific professional backgrounds and competencies your team brings to the initiative?

The program team uses methods, experience and assets that have been acquired by the Ę Association during its 10 years of experience, e.g. diagnosing and stimulating positive changes in cultural institutions. Our team consists of graduates of sociology, cultural animation and law. It includes people of various ages, including a person over 60. The coordinator, who initiated this program, was for many years running other projects related to overcoming ageism, senior voluntary work and intergenerational cooperation. All the team members have experience running their own social projects.

Please describe your management or coordination structure in the initiative.

The team is composed of 6 people: the coordinator, the consultant and 4 other employees, all based in Warsaw. It permanently cooperates with 2 volunteers. The program is repeated every year, we have the same timeframe. Every program employee works with about 8 project leaders in Poland through telephone and direct consultations, helping organize study visits, monitoring the assistance of flying animators and report analysis. We meets bimonthly and attends weekly all-staff meetings. We enhancing qualifications by participating in trainings on coaching, group processes and conflict resolution.

Please provide the total yearly budget in Euro that your initiative spends on implementing the solution.

240 000 EUR0

National public funding


European Union public funding


Economic return from own products/services


Foundations and philanthropy capital


Single donations from private individuals


Donations from private companies


Crowdfunding platforms


Participation fees


Other (please specify)


Target group, scale and impact
Which target group(s) do you want to reach with your solution?

- Active people 60+ with leadership potential who want to combine their passions with working for the benefit of the local community
- Youth under 35 who want to start a social project in cooperation with an elderly leader.
- Less active elderly people who are threatened with social exclusion, potential participants of projects initiated by the elderly and young leaders all over Poland.
- Organizations/institutions working with the elderly or those that want to develop that area of activity.
- The program is open to all, regardless of education, sex, nationality, and social status.

Please estimate the number of persons within your target group (users, clients, etc.) that you currently reach directly with your solution.

280 elderly and young leaders; circa 1300 participants of local projects (of different age groups) per year

In which local/regional/national area(s) is the solution currently implemented?

The contest is nationwide, each year we support 35 projects implemented in different communities.

What is the impact on your target group (users, clients) you want to generate?

-We give opportunity and space to people over 60 to implement social projects
-We teach elderly and young animators practical skills useful in working with local communities
-We encourage seniors to actively participate in community life through making use of their free time, skills and experience (e.g. volunteer work, intergeneration or neighbourhood projects, self-help initiatives, etc.)
-We create opportunities for intergenerational cooperation
-We offer inspiration to organizations and institutions that work with seniors and intergenerational groups; we present new working methods

What is the wider impact on society you want to generate?

-Promotion of creativity and initiative among the elderly
-Strengthening the presence and the voice of the elderly in solving local problems and responding to community needs
-Promotion of active aging as an answer to demographic problems
-Overcoming stereotypes related to old age; raising the status of elderly people among the general public
-Building integrated communities that use the potential of all generations and are sensitive to the needs of various age groups
-Educating animators who will be prepared to implement innovative intergenerational projects

What are the impacts on your target group you already achieved?

We supported the implementation of over 160 projects launched Poland-wide by elderly leaders or intergenerational pairs. 280 elderly and young leaders improved the skills that are useful in implementing social projects, 15 Alumni were trained to share their experience. We compiled, in written form, the experience gained from over 50 projects that we accomplished.
The program's evaluation showed that taking part in the competition strengthens elderly leaders' status in their families and local communities, it makes them cooperate with young people more easily and create local partnerships.

How has the impact of your initiative been assessed?

Experience-based self-assessment (you assessed the impacts based on your experiences with the target group), External evaluation of impacts based on qualitative methods (interviews, focus groups, etc.).

Public information and strategy
What information on your initiative is publicly available?

Mission and strategy, Information on team members, Evaluation report.

Please indicate webpage or contact for obtaining the respective information.
What are your milestones for further developing, implementing, and establishing your initiative in the next three years? Please describe 1-3 milestones.

We are building a network of 40 active program Alumni consisting of both elderly and young people who want to share their experience of working with seniors and intergenerational groups and other participants of programs for seniors run by various NGOs, businesses and local governments.
In partnership with Warsaw University, we intend to initiate a new post diploma studies focused on working with seniors.
We want to initiate regional editions of our “Seniors in Action” program in 2-3 locations in Poland. We are willing to pass our know-how on to interested local governments and NGOs.