AgeWell Pittsburgh recognized as a model for collaboration

AgeWell Pittsburgh recognized as a model for collaboration

AgeWell Pittsburgh providers enjoy their time volunteering together at the Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry.	Photo by Kathy Poth
AgeWell Pittsburgh providers enjoy their time volunteering together at the Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry. Photo by Kathy Poth

AgeWell Pittsburgh, the central outreach umbrella for a myriad of services for senior citizens, has been chosen out of 350 applicants as one of eight finalists for the 2017 Collaboration Prize. If AgeWell Pittsburgh is selected as the winner — which will be announced in April — it will receive a grant of $150,000.

This Collaboration Prize is a project of the Lodestar Foundation, a Phoenix-based philanthropic organization.

“We made a commitment to do three rounds of this prize, and this is the third,” said Lois Savage, president of the Lodestar Foundation. The prize was first awarded in 2009, then again three years later.

The Lodestar Foundation created the prize to raise awareness of successful nonprofit collaborations and to provide a way to share best practices.

“We knew there were wonderful models of nonprofit collaboration, and no one knew about them,” said Savage. “We started the prize to tease out these models.”

The goal, she said, was to build a database of nonprofit collaboration, a resource to inspire collaboration to maximize impact. AgeWell Pittsburgh will be added to that database, which currently features more than 600 other models of nonprofit collaboration.

“It is the go-to place for nonprofits wanting to understand how other non-profits can work together,” Savage said.

As a finalist for the Collaboration Prize, AgeWell Pittsburgh, which is a collaboration between the Jewish Association on Aging, Jewish Family & Children’s Service and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, will receive a $10,000 award.

AgeWell Pittsburgh, which is facilitated by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, has long been recognized as a valuable model of community collaboration, said Ilene Rinn, the Federation’s senior manager of planning and allocations, noting that the model has been replicated both in Atlanta and in Rhode Island.

“The Federation’s role is pivotal,” said Alexis Mancuso, assistant executive director of the JCC. “The Federation is our convener and our funder—a silent partner that helps us with strategic planning and moving things forward.”

The United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania is another funder of AgeWell Pittsburgh.

AgeWell Pittsburgh was formed 14 years ago, propelled by a federal NORC (naturally occurring retirement community) grant. At that time, the Federation brought together the JCC, the JAA and JF&CS to form a collaboration to provide services for seniors, according to Rinn.

“AgeWell Pittsburgh has a long history of providing strong outcomes for seniors,” she said, adding that the organization’s primary target is those seniors who continue to live independently. “The collaboration works beautifully. We have strong leadership in all three agencies at all levels.”

Having services coordinated by a single umbrella agency gives seniors a central point of entry into the system whose staff and volunteers work to protect and maintain seniors’ independence.

“The AgeWell Pittsburgh collaboration has strengthened each of our agencies by helping us to focus on what we do best, and in turn our clients have clearly reaped the benefits through improved outcomes,” said Deborah Winn-Horvitz, president and CEO of the JAA, in a prepared statement. “As we collectively continue to refine our business strategy, we see similar collaborations starting across the country modeled on our Pittsburgh experience — what a great way to share our successes.”

Since the beginning of the AgeWell Pittsburgh collaboration, the three agencies have improved senior care while increasing referrals to existing services, improving their ability to secure funding for services and improving their ability to identify areas in which program changes are needed.

“AgeWell Pittsburgh is one of the best examples of why we have such a special community,” said Deborah Baron, chief operating officer of the Federation. “We have a culture here where we work together.”

AgeWell Pittsburgh was recognized for enhancing individual services by ensuring that the collective network of services for seniors are aligned to meet the needs of the community.

“Through this collaboration, AgeWell Pittsburgh has been able to turn Pittsburgh’s aging population into a vital asset by keeping our seniors healthy, independent and fully engaged in this great city,” said Jordan Golin, president and CEO of JF&CS, in a statement.

“We are really excited to highlight what AgeWell Pittsburgh does,” Rinn said. “It is the community’s flagship collaboration.”

For a full list of finalists, visit

Toby Tabachnick can be reached at