UMass Boston

Gerontology Institute Teams with CANALA on Project to Improve Economic Opportunities for Older People of Color

09/21/2020| Gerontology Institute

AARP Foundation has awarded a grant to the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston for a two-year project to increase access to economic opportunities for older people of color in the greater Boston area.

Boston skyline, with homes in the foreground

“ The question is, from a practical perspective, how do we build the capacity for authentic equity and inclusion? ”

The $288,000 grant will fund the project that builds on the institute’s age-friendly work across the state, particularly the Age Friendly Boston Initiative, and its expertise in economic security issues in later life.

“We’re very excited because this project addresses economic security, a crucial need facing older adults,” said Caitlin Coyle, a research fellow at the institute and lead researcher on the project. “It begins to answer a question we have encountered in a number of age friendly community initiatives. The question is, from a practical perspective, how do we build the capacity for authentic equity and inclusion?”

The project will be a joint effort by the institute’s Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging and CANALA, a research collaboration of UMass Boston’s Institute for Asian American Studies, the Institute for New England Native American Studies, The Mauricio Gaston Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy, and the William Monroe Trotter Institute for the Study of Black Culture.

“Furthering the full participation of Boston’s communities of color is a central mission of UMass Boston's four racial /ethnic institutes,” said Paul Watanabe, the director of the Institute of Asian American Studies and professor of political science at UMass Boston. “Addressing inequities that limit older residents will enhance their well-being and dignity and amplify their continuing economic contributions to themselves, their families and the city as a whole."

With this support from the AARP Foundation, the project team will develop materials and provide training to community organizations in 10 pilot communities. The project will focus on Boston neighborhoods as well as surrounding cities and towns including Saugus, Revere, and Quincy. In all communities, the project’s goal is to improve access to existing programs and resources that could reduce costs or generate new income for older people of color.

“We want to make sure everyone has access to both public and private-sector opportunities in their communities,” said Coyle. “That can mean a lot of things, from public programs that can help people lower expenses to benefits that can create additional income and even services like job training.”

UMass Boston gerontologists will develop the content for the program, while CANALA partners will help develop outreach and training materials that are responsive to populations the program is designed to serve, addressing cultural and language issues in individual communities.

Materials for conducting culturally responsive outreach for will be developed — and translated into at least seven languages — by the spring of 2021 and will be pilot-tested with aging service providers in 10 communities in the Boston metro area during the fall of 2021.