Mini-Grants for Graduates of Aging Matters Program

Building on the success of Aging Matters, an education­al program launched in March 2011 to teach organi­zations serving older adults how to better connect with the media, the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) has approved up to $20,000 to fund a mini-grant program for Aging Matters graduates for continuing education and related resources.

The grant was made to the Senior Resource Alliance which will issue the mini-grants.

Under the new program, ap­proved through the founda­tion’s Older Adults Work Group, organizations that participated in Aging Matters can apply for up to $1,000 each for additional educa­tion as well as tools and re­sources like photo or video equipment; enrollment in webinars and classes; and production of press kit mate­rials.

“We believe this additional investment will build upon the solid foundation partici­pants received from this ed­ucational program and really help put into practice all that they learned,” said Diana Silvey, WPHF Program Director-Older Adults.

Aging Matters is an eight-month educational program developed by the Orange County Commission on Aging with financial support from WPHF. The program was de­signed for organizations serving older adults that wanted to learn how to com­municate effectively and de­velop relationships with the media.  It is hoped that by doing so, the media will cov­er more stories about aging and raise awareness in the community.

The inaugural program was launched in March 2011 with representatives from 32 organizations.  For one morning per month, partici­pants were instructed by lo­cal media and public rela­tions experts who volun­teered their time to cover a variety of topics.  Some of the sessions included an overview of the media land­scape and insights on how different types of media out­lets operate, writing for the media, crisis communication and tips for interviewing with the media.  In the final session, each participant had the chance to pitch a story to professionals from television, magazines, as well as local and regional newspapers.

During that final session, all participants were very nerv­ous as they made their pitch­es.  It was nice to see their tension subside as they heard constructive feedback from the media that truly fo­cused on how to tell a better story—one that would be more interesting and have a better chance of being cov­ered.  Likewise, the media people learned a lot about new programs in our com­munity and were pleased to be a part of the experience.  It was a win-win for everyone.” said Ms. Silvey.

In their evaluations, partici­pants affirmed the program was extremely beneficial.  One measurement of success being used by the Orange County Office on Aging is the number of stories covered by the media. It is also hoped the program has strength­ened the aging network as participants from a variety of organizations worked side by side over their eight months together.  Although the class has now graduated, many of these bonds will continue be­cause of the strong relationships that have developed, Ms. Silvey said.

Given the success of this first Aging Matters program, it is anticipated the Commission on Aging will offer it again in 2012.