Improving Social Connectedness Among Older Adults

AARP Foundation

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Anticipated deadline: Oct 18, 2020 8:59pm PDT

Grant amount: Unspecified amount

Fields of work: Social Isolation Senior Services

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Project / Program

Location of project: United States

Location of residency: United States

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About this funder:



AARP Foundation Overview

AARP Foundation works to end senior poverty by helping vulnerable older adults build economic opportunity and social connectedness. We are the charitable affiliate of AARP, serving AARP members and nonmembers alike. Through our grantmaking, we collaborate with partner organizations to identify evidence-based programs that can become sustainable — real-world solutions to the challenges facing low-income older adults.

We are seeking applicants with evidence-based, innovative solutions positioned for exponential growth to bring to scale proven approaches that increase social support and connectedness among hundreds of thousands of low-income older adults.

Advancing Effective Solutions

AARP Foundation is focused on creating and advancing effective solutions to help people 50 and older build economic opportunity and social connectedness. We have ambitious objectives for increasing the number of people we serve and achieving specific outcomes by 2020, including:

  • Sustained improvement in social connectedness for 12 months for 55% of 500,000 low-income 50+ older adults served in 2020 as measured by the Duke Social Support Index.

AARP Foundation launches new solutions that equip low-income older adults with the skills and resources to help them connect and stay connected—to each other and to their communities.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Investigating the viability of voice assisted technology to reduce or delay conditions of social isolation and its adverse health outcomes in adults aged 50+; and
  • Increasing capabilities for seniors to discover, develop, strengthen, and repair personal relationships.

In addition to developing our own solutions, AARP Foundation works with external organizations that are positioned to scale evidence-based programs to increase social connectedness in older adults.

Scaling for Impact

AARP Foundation seeks to fund bold projects with plans to scale proven, effective interventions via exponential growth (as opposed to linear growth), disrupting the current landscape for combating social isolation in low-income seniors.

Applicants should carefully consider the scalability of their evidence-based program and present a thoughtful scaling plan in their application, thinking through questions such as what exactly is being scaled (describe the program model), how it’s being scaled with fidelity, who is doing the scaling where the scaling will take place, and the replicability of the model.

We strongly recommend using Management Systems International’s Scaling Up Management Framework, Scalability Checklist, and Scaling Up Toolkit as a framework to assess the readiness of your organization to develop a concrete plan and the potential of your program to be scaled. We urge applicants to work through the Scalability Checklist to determine whether their proposed intervention is ready both for scaling and for submission to AARP Foundation. A written scaling plan for reaching older adults that works efficiently and makes resources go further, is required. A visual representation of the scaling plan is encouraged and may be uploaded as an attachment to the application.

AARP Foundation can assist a proposed scaling plan in multiple ways, such as investing in new technology to transform service delivery, utilizing the trusted AARP Foundation brand to enter new markets, or playing an intermediary role to connect the program with new customers and funders.

AARP Foundation anticipates collaborating with selected grantees to explore various models for growth, scalability and sustainability to ensure that programs demonstrating measurable social connectedness outcomes are positioned to serve hundreds of thousands of low-income seniors.


Depending on the stage of program development and experience with implementation, adaptation and evaluation, we expect proposed programs to have varying levels of evidence that demonstrate their effectiveness along a continuum. AARP Foundation has adapted its evidence descriptions based on the Corporation for National and Community Service’s evidence of effectiveness definitions as follows:

  • Preliminary Evidence. In addition to having a theory of change and logic model, the organization has a data management system in place, such that outputs and outcomes may be monitored and tracked consistently. A non-experimental evaluation may have been conducted on the program that was able to demonstrate improved outcomes among participants.
  • Moderate Evidence. An independent evaluation has been conducted that had a well-implemented design with findings that support program effectiveness, but with limited generalizability. There may have been a strong correlation between the program model and the outcomes produced, but no causal relationship could be established without a comparison group.
  • Strong Evidence. More than one evaluation was conducted that had a well-implemented design with findings that support the effectiveness of the program, OR one large well-implemented randomized controlled, multi-site study with findings that support the effectiveness of the program.

The purpose of this funding opportunity is to support programs that have been independently evaluated, with a preference for programs that demonstrated moderate to strong evidence of effectiveness.

AARP Foundation requires applicants to clearly describe their program’s level of evidence and provide supporting documentation in the form of a theory of change, a logic model, data management plan, references to the literature and reports that describe how the evaluation(s) was conducted and what the results were.

The final evaluation results report from all external evaluations of the proposed program is required. A thorough and complete report of the evaluation findings should also include the evaluation methodology. Guidance is provided for creating a Logic Model and Theory of Change. Please submit a logic model that reflects how the program is currently implemented.

Finally, a data management plan (DMP) for the proposed project must be submitted. A DMP is a formal document developed at the start of a project that outlines a systematic process for attaining specific performance goals. AARP Foundation requires applicants to complete a data management plan that addresses the applicant’s plan for data capture and management. A template is provided for the DMP.

Double Bottom Line: Social and Financial Return

AARP Foundation views grant-making as investments that seek a social return, particularly as it relates to increasing economic opportunity and social connectedness. The social return can be financial savings to the program beneficiary, the government, and/or the community at large as a result of a positive outcome.

AARP Foundation will require the submission of a business model canvas (BMC) with the funding application. Guidance on how to create a business model canvas is provided.

We seek interventions that have a compelling financial model, such as:

  • Self-sustaining financial model not reliant on donations or grants (social entrepreneurship); or
  • Break-even financial model reliant on existing and identified funders (social service).

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • This funding opportunity is intended for national or regional organizations with built-in distribution channels, such as affiliates, members, chapters or collaborative partnerships.
  • AARP Foundation is seeking organizations that seek to serve hundreds of thousands of individuals in a cost-effective manner. 


  • The following are not eligible for funding:
    • Individual affiliates or chapters of national organizations;
    • Grants for individuals;
    • Debt retirement or operating deficits;
    • Endowments or reserve funds;
    • Political organizations or campaigns;
    • Lobbying legislators or influencing elections;
    • Sponsorship of fundraising events;
    • Marketing endeavors and personal research;
    • Organizations located outside the United States or its territories; or
    • Indirect expenses unrelated to the project being funded.