Today, San Francisco-based Metta Fund announced a significant strategic evolution, prioritizing older adults and aging across all of its grantmaking. The foundation’s board has resoundingly endorsed a new, second focus area of elder caregiving, adding to its existing focus of social isolation in older adults. While Metta Fund’s strategic shift—under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Janet Y. Spears— has been two years in the making, current events impacting older adults make the foundation’s refined approach even more relevant.
Every day, 10,000 Americans turn 65 years of age, and the number of older Americans is expected to double in the next several decades. “Families will be profoundly impacted because most of us will need care at some point. Yet, our society is unprepared for this extraordinary demographic shift and the accompanying demand for caregivers,” said Metta Fund’s Board Chair, Kimberly Brandon. “As the magnitude of the elder care crisis has become clearer, Metta Fund wanted to do more.”
The new focus emerged from an extensive period of research and reflection, starting with key informant interviews with dozens of diverse nonprofit, community, foundation, and advocacy leaders regionally and across the nation. The major takeaways: elder caregiving is one of the most overlooked issues facing our nation, and the caregiving crisis involves complex and siloed issues around family and professional caregiving, creating a need for family supports and a sustainable caring economy.
Metta Fund concluded that it would concentrate its efforts within the caregiving portfolio on a culture change movement that does not distinguish family care from paid caregivers, but rather views all caregivers as essential to the health and well-being of older adults. Moving forward, the foundation will seek to impact the needs and supports for both caregivers and care recipients who have been marginalized through inconsistent and impractical services and resources.
Grantmaking in this area will enable family and paid caregivers to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services; navigate complex health care systems; receive training and access resources; and educate the public and decision-makers about the value and rights of low-income and immigrant caregivers through advocacy, research, and storytelling. An initial round of six grants was made to: Caring Across Generations*; Diverse Elders Coalition*; Family Caregiver Alliance; Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network*; Homebridge; and Self-Help for the Elderly.
In recent years, Metta Fund partnered with grantees who are tackling critically important issues, like access to high-quality care and services, healthy eating and active living, and oral health in children. Changes to grantmaking as a result of the new focus occurred over the course of the past 18-24 months, and the foundation supported grants through to their planned conclusions. Metta Fund remains firmly committed to its current partners in the Aging and Older Adult grantmaking portfolio, many of whom are in the middle of multiyear work driving toward specific impacts in social isolation in older adults.
“Metta Fund has selected this new emphasis for our grantmaking program with care and deliberation. We are committed to elevating equity in caregiving so that all elders can age with health and dignity, and that family and paid caregivers can be supported, paid a living wage, and valued for their work,” said Janet Y. Spears, CEO of Metta Fund.
Anna Karrer Manley
Director of Communications