Experience Corps: design of an intergenerational program to boost social capital and promote the health of an aging society

J Urban Health. 2004 Mar;81(1):94-105. doi: 10.1093/jurban/jth096.


Population aging portends a crisis of resources and values. Desired solutions could include intergenerational strategies to harness the untapped potential of older adults to address societal needs and to generate health improvements for older adults. Despite the desire of many older adults to remain socially engaged and productive, the creation of productive roles has lagged. This report describes the conceptual framework and major design features of a new model of health promotion for older adults called Experience Corps. Experience Corps operates at, and leads to benefits across, multiple levels, including individuals, schools, and the larger community. At the individual level, we propose a model based on Erikson's concept of generativity to explain how and why Experience Corps works. At the level of schools, we propose a parallel model based on social capital. Experience Corps is a volunteer service program designed to improve the lives of urban children and to yield health improvement for older persons. It illustrates how population aging creates new opportunities to address difficult social problems. This article explores how the linkage of concepts at multiple levels motivates a potentially cost-effective, feasible, and high-impact program.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged / psychology*
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Baltimore
  • Child
  • Faculty*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Intergenerational Relations
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Pilot Projects
  • Research Design
  • Schools*
  • Social Support*
  • Volunteers / psychology*
  • Workforce