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Sponsor a Dream

Appealing to the importance of setting goals and a maintaining a sense of purpose as we age, this program would help elders achieve their dreams by providing financial assistance in the form of individual sponsorship.

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Written by DeletedUser

Plenty of the concepts presented in the inspiration phase highlighted the importance of setting goals and a maintaining a sense of purpose. However, as individuals approach and experience retirement, they may find that their finances are not equipped to support these endeavors. I started thinking about the existing systems in place to allow individuals to sponsor children who need financial assistance, or programs like the make-a-wish foundation that help children achieve their dreams. The Sponsor a Dream project would serve an analogous purpose for adults as they age: it would connect people to elders who need financial assistance to realize their goals, whether that entailed finally travelling to a new country, preparing for a marathon, continuing their education, opening a bakery, or simply paying for medical assistance needed to help them maintain their independence.

To make the process more interactive and promote the formation of meaningful connections, the program could include monthly in-person meetings to update the sponsors and allow the beneficiary to connect with the family supporting them. Depending on the desires of the sponsor and the recipient, the collaboration could encompass many fields. For instance, even if the specific project was related to physical wellbeing (if say, a family was sponsoring someone who wanted to climb a mountain and needed help with equipment and travel expenses), the team could work to incorporate check points related to mental wellbeing (for example, the beneficiary could present a new interesting article they had encountered each week, sort of like a book club concept).

By thoroughly developing the social aspect of this program,it would be possible to help seniors feel connected to a group of individuals who were genuinely concerned in their wellbeing, which would provide an added incentive for success and would simultaneously prevent isolation.

Furthermore, the program could be developed in a manner that would allow the elderly individuals to also serve as unofficial mentors for the sponsors or sponsoring family. Tracking the progress of a senior towards achieving their goals could serve as an excellent source of inspiration for younger individuals, and the personal interaction would allow sponsors to receive advice and learn from the expertise of the more experienced person.

Using this system we could have the chance to see more stories like this one : 73- year- old Sandy Palais started lifting weights in her 60s, and has since gone on to win numerous awards in the senior Olympics,challenging the notion that it is ever too late to achieve your dreams. 

How might your idea scale and spread to reach as many people as possible?

In designing this program, it would be crucial to leverage social media and internet fora to gain traction and garner support. Obviously the program could not operate without individuals willing to provide financial backing. However, once the program had been adequately publicized, there is no reason Sponsor a Dream could not be enacted on a global scale. The intention behind the initiative would be that any individual could post a request for sponsorship (and alternatively friends and family members could write-in to recommend other individuals for sponsorships) and that any individual could sign up to back individuals.

How might your idea attract and involve partners from health care, business, government, nonprofit or other sectors?

While Sponsor a Dream is intended to provide social support as well as financial support on a more intimate level, there could be numerous opportunities for outside partnerships from other sectors. For instance, if large organizations wanted to engage in corporate responsibility in the form of sponsorship, they could potentially work with teams of elderly individuals pursuing a set of similar goals, or they could help set up a facility to support elderly individuals requesting sponsorship (fund a gym tailored to senior individuals, promote a higher learning institution for seniors, providing job training for seniors who want to pursue a different career, etc.). Health care partners could be involved in similar ways – with many of the goals, seniors may face various health risks, and having a standing team of sponsors in the health sector (for instance having a relationship with a local hospital as part of the program) could be extremely beneficial. Furthermore, numerous external partners would inevitably become involved depending on the nature of the goal of the individual requesting sponsorship: for instance if a recent retiree had a childhood dream of working with Congress, that could provide an opportunity for government partners to become a part of the process.

How might you design an early experiment or prototype to further develop your idea?

This program could easily be implemented on the scale of a few individuals before being expanded. For instance, I could begin by approaching my local community center or talking to my local city council to gauge interest and connect with individuals willing to engage in both sides of the program (both an elder seeking support and a sponsor seeking a beneficiary). Based on these results I would rethink the process and expand. (I have not done this- if anyone has connections with their local community that could be leveraged for this process, please try it and let me know how it goes!).


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Hi Bianca, interesting post! Any chance you could find an image to go along with it? Images help grab attention and tell a story with higher impact. You should be able to use the Update Entry button on the right of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there. We know occasionally people have issues uploading images so let us know by hitting the Support tab on the left hand side of most pages of our site if you face any problems. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO.

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Sure thing!