These grandpas fill the gap and so much more
BY JIM ISENBERG
Gramps Not Grumps was the headline in the Journal News nearly five years ago about a newly formed intergenerational program called Grandpas UnitedTM. The program was created by the White Plains Youth Bureau Executive Director and the retired Executive Director of the North American Family Institute (NAFI), both of whom are grandpas. They wanted to connect grandfathers to a forum that addressed their needs while utilizing their experiences, talents, and commitment to the community through the positive development of youth, especially those in single-parent homes.
Grandpas UnitedTM started in 2018 with eight Grandpas. It has grown to over one hundred White Plains Grandpas from diverse socioeconomic and demographic backgrounds. Grandpas United also enjoys the ongoing solid support of NYS legislative leaders, the White Plains’ Mayor’s office, the local city council, and county leaders. The group has connected with White Plains Schools, White Plains Public Library, faith-based leaders, health, and other community organizations.
Grandpas UnitedTM has received local and national attention, including a feature on WCBS AM Radio, Encore Magazine, Forbes Magazine, and again in the Journal News. The group was selected as one of seventeen nationwide programs for Encore’s Gen2Gen 2020 Innovation Awards to replicate this unique intergenerational program in other communities. Grandpas UnitedTM was designated as a Program of Distinction by Generations United, meeting the criteria of a high-quality, effective intergenerational program.
Designer, use this video as image for page 2
Since its inception, Grandpas UnitedTM has had a significant positive impact on our community. Some of the successes and program highlights are:
- “Grandpas Goes to School” mentoring program for elementary students at Church Street School
- Juvenile justice diversion mentoring program with the White Plains Youth Court, where nearly 100 youth have been served without any recidivism
- Regular monthly “Coffee with Grandpas” meetings with speakers from sectors such as government, health, business, education, and other fields
- YPI (Youth Police Initiative), partnering with the WPPD, Grandpas continue the relationship with the youth served beyond the week-long training through various bonding activities
- “JumpStart for Dads” program coaching new fathers, especially teens, in parenting skills, using the Fathering-in-15 evidence-based program
- “Half Time with Grandpas” mentoring program for early middle school students
- Partnering with White Plains H.S. to support youth leadership programs through activities including vocational opportunities, entrepreneurship, college, and career readiness training
- “Sports Night” speaker events focusing on character building rather than sports talent
- Summer camps and after-school activities to foster positive and healthy growth and development
- Co-sponsor of the Annual New York State Fatherhood Conference, which addresses vital topics such as youth violence prevention and best practices for fathers
- Sponsor the annual Community Awards Breakfast program to recognize outstanding community partners and volunteers
- Established the annual Civic Engagement Scholarship Program, recognizing exceptional community service by graduating High School students
- Intergenerational Talent Showcase with Grandpas and White Plains students
Grandpas United™ was awarded a Program of Distinction designation by Generations United. The Program of Distinction designation denotes that the awarded program meets the highest standards of intergenerational effectiveness and provides greater confidence in the program’s sustainability and capacity to achieve targeted outcomes.
Generations United’s Intergenerational Program Certification designations are based on the criteria underpinning any intergenerational program’s effectiveness and are intended to recognize the rich diversity among programs that involve older and younger generations.