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AARP Start Up Incubator (AARPubator)

I hear people say it all the time- “I don’t want to retire and do nothing, I want to retire and do what I want to do.” The “AARPubator” is a start-up incubator that pairs skills, funding and ideas acquired by AARP members with the technical, social media and coding skills of younger people to develop those dreams fostered by the AARP member. This concept works by leveraging the abilities of both the AARP members and the more junior people. It blurs the line between mentor and mentee (each would serve each role at different times) and make for a better relationship as things grow.

Photo of Kenneth Walton
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How would you describe your idea in one sentence?

A start-up incubator that pairs skills, funding and ideas acquired by AARP members with the technical, social media and coding skills of younger people.

AARPubator Principles
  1. Encourage mentoring relationships that foster growth for seniors and juniors
  2. Build on the existing network of AARP programs like Life Reimagined group, AARP Experience Corps and Encore.
  3. Create a flexible incubator structure that allows for AARP members to take full advantage of their experience, location and  resources.
  4. Develop relationships with mentoring programs that could offer the AARPubator as a service
  5. Partner with a variety of venture firms and institutions to assure a wide range successful startups.
Project Update 
Georgetown University, in partnership with the Department of Education co-hosted a Data Jam on Aug. 2 2014 to bring together developers, designers, entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, researchers, statisticians, policy makers, educators, and students to create data visualizations of current challenges and build new tools in order to create ladders of opportunity for all youth, including boys and young men of color. We were able to introduce the AARPubator concept in a breakout session related to preparing young people Successfully Enter the Workforce.  The project that resulted from the conversation “Navigators Network”, is a “Life Stairs Concept” that links mentors to young people to prepare them for the workforce on many levels. I am proposing the AARPubator as a Life Stairs component of the “Navigators Network”. The project is to be presented to a larger group of leaders at the Department of Education in September.

Mission 2- Design Tools for Connection

What is an Incubator?
An Incubator is an organization that shows the way for the startup companies to speed up their growth and success. Startups get access to a host of benefits from mentorship and expertise to networking. Finding a startup Incubator that is best suited for your business is addressed in the AARPubator by using the locations and local industries of an areas mentor population.
“Incubators are typically run by nonprofit organizations, such as government groups and economic development agencies. Some universities also offer incubation centers where entrepreneurs can tap into the research activities on campus or take existing research and turn it into a commercial business. Most incubators will provide various resources for member companies, including business facilities, office services, marketing assistance, legal advice, mentorship, and networking opportunities. One goal would be house many of these needs can be in regional AARP offices, to reduce cost and leverage existing networks. These programs essentially nurture the growth of startups and boast longer incubation periods, making them ideal for entrepreneurs who want to develop their company gradually.”
 “Incubators usually focus on a specific area in which its mentors have an expertise” OpenIDEOer / Teammate/ DC IDEO Meetup Logan Powell. The AARPubator will get its greatest strength from its flexibility, which comes from the variety of backgrounds and locations of AARP members/ mentors. Using their mentor experiences to work with an endless number of student interest.  

Building on Existing Platforms as a Basis for Development
We got great direction related to a few existing AARP groups in the ideas phase where the AARPubator could grow or spin off existing AARP groups. One place is with the AARP Life Reimagined group, 
This group looks at traditional retirement as passé, and works with people to find “what’s next” after retirement—opening a new business, volunteering for something you’re passionate about, doing part time work, etc.  Our idea aligns well with that work, and could work as a spin off.
The AARP Tek group is  with creating a more user friendly tech experience AARP members.  They have one program that is part of AARP Tek called Mentor Up.  Here they utilize youth to train older adults on smart phones and tablets, we can build on this as a training element within the AARPubator or use their existing training courses as a model.
Finally, Encore may have interest in your model.  Their founder Marc Freedman is particularly interested in tapping the talents of those in retirement to address many of society’s challenges.

AARPubator Mentor Archetypes
To create our prototypes we used empathy interviews and comments from teammates and the people around us (Archetypes) as suggested by OpenIDEOer / Teammate/ DC IDEO Meetup Beth McHugh.

The archetypes that we've used in our exapmles have been paired with different types of mentoring approaches. Anthony Hughes has identified five mentor types, and we have given a persons name to each of the mentor types using the  backgrounds, comments and empathy interviews to help define our archetypes. The Archetypes are as follows:

The Challenger- Colson: It's the Challenger's responsibility to confront assumptions and ask the tough questions that ultimately prevent an entrepreneur from making costly errors.
The Ideator- Jerry: Are you dreaming big enough? Are you being as creative as you can be?
The Educator- Antoinette: The Educator is someone who sees in an entrepreneur a desire to learn and is willing to sit down and teach him/her when needed.
The Connector- Sherry: Remember the old adage, "It's all about who you know?" Well, it's who you know -- along with who they know, and to whom they are willing to introduce you. Whether it's staking their credibility on helping find a first customer who's willing to take a risk on an unproven entity.
The Cheerleader- The AARP: The Cheerleader can give an entrepreneur the motivation and energy needed to persevere. That energy is also found in a supportive spouse, parent or in good friends, someone to say "You can do this."

Each of our AARP "Mentor Archetypes" is associated with an existing mentoring group, venture firm or both. The concept encourages the cross pollination of mentoring, by using the AARP member network and their member organizational communities to build start up opportunites. Here are a few examples of archetype mentors organizational communities that we’ve provided.

Mission 3- Imagine a Unifying Network
Provides select high school students with a comprehensive business curriculum, mentorships with corporate leaders and graduate students from top universities, and access to thought-leaders in the technology, venture capital, and social entrepreneurship industries.

The Hord Foundation was established in January 1993 by Noel and Cora E. Hord. The purpose of the foundation is to promote education and enhance career opportunities of young minority people by providing post secondary school scholarships or other financial assistance for educational purposes. The Foundation is a 501(c) (3) Non-Profit Organization.

Bull City Forward envisions Durham and the Triangle region as the best place in the world for people improving the world. Our mission is to increase the creation and scale of innovations for the greater good

Boy Scouts of America Mentoring through Scouting is an opportunity to help a person grow through discovery.

  The Incubator Students

Using the AARP Mentor Archtype as a model the next step is to make student (Mentee) connections. Their a several ways to reach out to students, and we will give several examples. But a first step could be to target a kind of student to reach out to. While all types of students should be welcomed to AARP incubator spaces, the concept opens the door to different types of learners.

“Kids learn differently and AP and other types of honors courses are not the best method to educate all kids. Common core does not emphasize creativity, but looks for standardization rather than application of ideas to improve curriculum.” The AARPubator will offer project based learning and growth. Kaylah High School Student

The program seems really beneficial for not only AARP members but also the kids.
Daa'Jah Wallace Student  OpenIDEOer / Teammate

Varieties of Incubators that fit the AARPubator model

As a starting point look for existing incubators as a model that can inform the AARPubator. Here are a few exapmles

All comers. Kick, is an incubator that accepts companies and nonprofits of all types. The summertime program is just 8-weeks, focusing on fast ramp-up, and applicants must create a crowdfunding campaign to pay for their course fee. There’s post-graduation assistance and coaching on pitching business-plan competitions, too.
Sports tech. Nike launched its Nike+ Accelerator program in December, aimed at encouraging startups to use the company’s Nike+ technology to create innovative sports apps. The first 10 companies to participate in the program were announced earlier this month, and in June they’ll present to investors. The Accelerator is powered by the established TechStars incubator program. We’ll see if Nike gets anything it wants to snap up out of this process.
Young. Go-celerator invites entrepreneurs born before 1983 to spend a year in St. Louis learning how to grow your innovative startup. You need sales — pre-revenue companies don’t qualify. To get involved, start prepping your 60-second audition video now.
Using these types of examples the AARPubator can be more clearly defined.

Mission 4- Capture the Value of Mentorship

Once the AARPubator model has been better defined, the value of mentoring can be captured by  Potential Partnerships and Venture Capital for the AARPubator Startups.

“That’s what ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ is all about. Helping more of our young people stay on track. Providing the support they need to think more broadly about their future. Building on what works – when it works, in those critical life-changing moments.”

The AARP should consider teaming with President Obama’s My Brothers Keeper program. This week he announced mentoring commitments from the following organizations. On July 21, 2014 President Obama announced
several new mentoring commitments for his My Brothers Keeper program.
The AARP could partner with some of these groups for both students and capital investment in a incubator program. These potential partners include:
The NBA, the National Basketball Players Association, and the National Basketball Retired Players Association announced a five-year commitment in partnership with MENTOR:
•AT&T announced an $18 million commitment to support mentoring and other education programs with a mentoring component.
•Becoming A Man (B.A.M.) and Match tutoring programs announced $10 million in new funding to expand to 3-5 new cities over the next three years and support a large-scale study on the programs’ long-term effects.
•Along with their partners from Silicon Valley and elsewhere, the Emerson Collective, founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, will collaborate with districts and educators to launch a competition to find and develop the best designs for next generation high schools. Together, they will contribute $50 million for this effort.
•Citi Foundation is making a three-year, $10 million commitment to create ServiceWorks, a national program to help 25,000 young people in ten cities across the U.S. develop skills they need to prepare for college and careers.
•Today, the leaders of 60 of the largest school systems in the country, which collectively educate nearly three million of America’s male students of color, have joined in an unprecedented pledge to change life outcomes of boys and young men of color by better serving these students at every stage of their education.
•The College Board is investing more than $1.5 million for “All In,” a national College Board program to ensure that 100 percent of African American, Latino, and Native American students with strong AP potential enroll in at least one matched AP class before graduation.
•Discovery Communications will invest more than $1 million to create an original independent special programming event to educate the public about issues related to boys and men of color and address negative public perceptions of them.

Mission 1- Create Roadmaps to Get Started

Social Innovation Venture Capital
“Ashoka sponsors competitions around social innovation and could be looked for venture capital for some startups” OpenIDEOer / Teammate/ DC IDEO Meetup Geronimo Ramos.

Ashoka is an international citizen-sector organization whose mission is to build an Everyone a Changemaker World. An Everyone a Changemaker World is one that responds quickly and effectively to social challenges to ensure that the leading ideas for social change are fully developed and sustained.
•. Ashoka identifies and invests in leading social entrepreneurs and helps them achieve maximum social impact.
•Promoting Group Entrepreneurship -Ashoka engages communities of entrepreneurs and develops patterns of effective collaborations that change entire fields.
•Ashoka creates needed infrastructure, such as access to social financing, bridges to business and academic sectors, and frameworks for partnerships that deliver social and financial value.

Youth Venture
Youth Venture thus inspires and invests in teams of young people to start and lead their own social ventures, and is building a powerful network of young change makers across the world. It is currently operating in the US, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, India, South Africa, Thailand, France, Germany, and Spain Into their adult future. Through this experience, young people will grow up practicing applied empathy, teamwork, and leadership—the underlying skills needed to make change.
Catapult, a program of Ashoka & Ashoka’s Youth Venture, provides select high school students with a comprehensive business curriculum, mentorships with corporate leaders and graduate students from top universities, and access to thought-leaders in the technology, venture capital, and social entrepreneurship industries.

The Research and Idea Phase Background info
In addition we think that the AARPubator fits as a tool that can further the goals of President Obama's My Brothers Keeper Initiative 
 “That’s what ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ is all about. Helping more of our young people stay on track. Providing the support they need to think more broadly about their future. Building on what works – when it works, in those critical life-changing moments.”
- President Barack Obama, February 27, 2014
President Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper initiative to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.
Through this initiative, the Administration is joining with cities and towns, businesses, and foundations who are taking important steps to connect young people to mentoring, support networks, and the skills they need to find a good job or go to college and work their way into the middle class. My Brother’s Keeper is focused on six milestones:

1.Getting a Healthy Start and Entering School Ready to Learn- All children should have a healthy start and enter school ready – cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally.
2.Reading at Grade Level by Third Grade- All children should be reading at grade level by age 8 – the age at which reading to learn becomes essential.
3.Graduating from High School Ready for College and Career- Every American child should have the option to attend postsecondary education and receive the education and training needed for quality jobs of today and tomorrow.
4.Successfully Entering the Workforce- Anyone who wants a job should be able to get a job that allows them to support themselves and their families.
5.Keeping Kids on Track and Giving Them Second Chances- All children should be safe from violent crime; and individuals who are confined should receive the education, training and treatment they need for a second chance.
The AARP addresses some of these focus areas in existing programs like AARP Experience Corps. This group  is a national leader in engaging older adult tutors to improve K-3 student literacy in disadvantaged schools, and clearly address focus area two “Reading at Grade Level by Third Grade”.
The AARPubator has the potential to address areas three, four and five depending on the flexibility of the implementation.

Previously we suggested AARP Experience Corps as a starting place, we were able to get feedback from Experience Corps DC
that lead us to the  recommendation above. The following text is the research that help to lead us in this new direction.

One potential strategy to get the program started would be to take advantage of existing AARP partnerships or programs operating with a similar organizational structure. The AARP Experience Corps is a national leader in engaging older adult tutors to improve K-3 student literacy in disadvantaged schools.
Building on the existing AARP Experience Corps network of 21 US cities, the incubator would have the ability to get up and running quickly. The Experience Corps is it is basically a mentoring group with an education focus, so they may have the ability to reach local universities in place. Project AARPubator could use this network as a starting point for building relationships with the local AARP members, and universities. The AARP Experience Corps could also serve as a template for organizing the Incubator, and building an education network.
AARP Experience Corps is also a part of the AmeriCorps national service network. AmeriCorps supports the engagement of nearly 75,000 Americans each year. We have reached out to the Experience Corps office here in Washington and hope to get some feedback from them soon. 

Who are the target users of your idea and how does your idea speak directly to their needs, life stages and goals?

“AARPubator” is a start-up incubator that pairs skills and ideas acquired by AARP members with the technical, social media and coding skills of younger people to develop those dreams fostered by the AARP member. The idea targets people willing to share their experience and skills in an effort to grow something new that could be of benefit to both at a mentoring, business and educational level.

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

The goals of the AARP Challenge ,and the My Brothers Keeper project align very well. I think the AARPubator could scale and spread to reach as many people as possible by working with this group. A great first step if you are in the Washington DC area is to respond the the invitation below. An Invitation Come join us for the first My Brother's Keeper Data Jam at Georgetown Downtown (640 Massachusetts Ave NW) on Saturday, August 2nd. Theyare bringing together a group of practitioners, experts, researchers, students, and educators to study the data and create inventive visualizations of the problems facing the young men and boys of color in our nation. We hope to convene a diverse group of stakeholders to the MBK Data Jam and would greatly appreciate your sharing this event with anyone you think might be able to provide a unique perspective or add value

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to test any assumptions you might have about your idea?

"An early incubator idea might be to speak with AARP regarding the existing relationships that they have with universities/colleges/tech schools... Then think through which 2-3 of these schools might be the BEST candidate for your idea ( carefully evaluate "best", as you want to set your idea up for success so very carefully screen the schools )." Teammate Jacqueline Morgan

What aspects of your idea could benefit from the input, skills or know-how of our OpenIDEO community?

I think the idea could use community support to develop: 1. Approaches to prototyping this kind of experience 2. Finding ways to bring venture capital opportunities to the idea. Follow Up: We had a successful local DC OpenIDEO Meetup that lead to the development of some approaches to solving the issues raised around input to the community

Evaluation results

15 evaluations so far

1. How well does this idea inspire and engage young people to support older adults through mentorship?

Really well – this idea clearly activates young people to support older adults - 53.3%

It’s getting there but could use a bit more work to flesh out exactly how - 40%

This idea doesn’t really address how to inspire and engage young people as mentors to older adults - 6.7%

2. How clearly does this idea outline a path to scale so that it can spread from one local community to around the world?

Crystal clear – I understand all the milestones that this idea would need to hit in order to spread beyond one local geography - 26.7%

It’s pretty clear that this idea has the potential to scale but the steps needed to grow aren’t detailed enough - 66.7%

Not very clear – I’m not sure this idea is designed to scale given how it’s explained here - 6.7%

3. How well does this idea define who its target users are and the ways that it can meet their needs and life stages?

Very well – I understand exactly who this idea is meant to engage and how it will support them - 66.7%

Ok – I’m not sure I could tell you exactly who the target user is but I might be able to guess - 33.3%

It’s hard to tell who this idea is actually meant to engage and support - 0%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

It rocked my world - 46.7%

I liked it but preferred others - 40%

It didn’t get me overly excited - 13.3%

View more

Team (13)

Kenneth's profile
Ben's profile
Ben Pepin

Role added on team:

"Ben, It would be great to have you on this team, maybe we could work together to prototype this idea. The building I work in has an AARP office in it, I can do a little research about how to create an incubator within AARP if you can think about match ideas with the skill needed on the tech end?"

Jacqueline's profile
Jacqueline Morgan

Role added on team:

"Great comment please join our team!"

Felipe's profile
Felipe Cabezas

Role added on team:

"Felipe, It would be great to have you on the team. I like the tech Meet Up idea. I attend a few meet ups here in DC, and think it would be another way to bring the two group together. I posted another submission dealing with the idea of meet ups; check it out if you get a minute. I am attending the Design Thinking Summer of Design Meetup on Tuesday July 1. Maybe we can meet there and talk about developing this idea more there. Ken"

Sherry's profile
Sherry Kolodziejczak

Role added on team:

"It would be great to have you on this team!"

Logan's profile
Logan Powell

Role added on team:

"Great meeting last night!"

Beth's profile
Geronimo Carlo's profile
Jerry's profile
Jerry Walton

Role added on team:

"Thanks Jerry, We could use your business savvy on this team"

Anthony's profile
Anthony Hughes

Role added on team:

"Anthony, This idea came out of our small breakout at the My Brothers keeper event. We could use more of your input in the thinking."

Deirdre's profile
Deirdre Gonsalves

Role added on team:

"Sorry It has taken me so long to respond Deirdre, but I agree We could surly target High School age students. They are about to make big decisions in their life, and having a Senior person to give them life advice while building a career opportunity at the same time could be great. I got a chance last night to meet with the DC IDEO group lead by Logan and Beth, and I found that there is much to gain by meeting with folks of a different generation and seeing what kind of knowledge and insight they can offer. All of the DC group is much younger than I, but I feel that I walked away with a great deal of new knowledge that I can apply right now. I don't know that they gained much from me but I think the mentoring can be a two way thing."

Kevin's profile
Kevin Clark

Role added on team:

"Kevin it would be great to have you as a member of this team."

Daa'Jah's profile
Daa'Jah Wallace

Role added on team:

"Daa'Jah, It would be great to get the student perspective from you on this team."


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kenneth Walton

Thanks for all the help team!! We made the winning group of submissions. I had a call today with a group from Georgetown University, and the US Department of Education, and I am planning right now to present the AARPUBATOR to a group there on Sept. 12th. This would be as a part of a larger team project that developed from the MBK Data Jam earlier this month. Maybe we can get Al Brown or someone from the AARP Foundation to attend in support of making the connection with the concept happen.
I will keep you informed if we are able to move this forward, and if you would like to stay involved.
Thanks Again Team!!

Photo of Logan Powell

Looks like we might have a good cause for our first 3PDC meetup group, eh?! :)

Photo of Kenneth Walton

Yep, I think so. Something to build on can drive energy and excitement.

Photo of Felipe Cabezas

fantastic news. glad to know that this idea is receiving support and has momentum to move forward.

Photo of Joanna Spoth

Congrats! This idea reminds me of a new business launching this summer that's focused on keeping seniors in their home, called Better Together. If it does get off the ground it seems there would be a natural mentorship and skill building opportunity in pairing young people with single seniors in their homes.

(sorry - ugly links!)

Photo of Alaine Newland

That's great news! Please keep us updated on your progress :)

Photo of Kenneth Walton

OK, Will Do!

Photo of Sherry Kolodziejczak

Great idea to work with the Navigators Network and the Life Stairs Concept. This project is a perfect fit.

Photo of Kenneth Walton

Thanks for the feedback Sherry

Photo of Leigh Cullen

Excellent work Kenneth! I love how you describe the idea as, "blurring the line between mentor and mentee (each would serve each role at different times) and make for a better relationship as things grow." Good luck to you!

Photo of Kenneth Walton

Thanks Leigh!!,
I appreciate the encouragement!! It was a fun challenge.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Loving the archetype additions, Kenneth!

Photo of Kenneth Walton

Thanks Meena!

Photo of Daa'Jah Wallace

The program seems really beneficial for not only AARP members but also the kids.

Photo of Ben Pepin

I love this idea! I've met many seniors who have big dreams of starting and running a business, but lack much of the tech know how to actually achieve their goals.

As a young person with a pretty basic understanding of web design, I am constantly bombarded by seniors with questions. Your idea could potentially give them a resource that isn't their kids or their kid's friends. I would constantly use this as a resource to point them to.

I'd love to hear some example stories of the incubator in action. Also, what are some of the challenges that this idea would face?

I look forward to seeing this idea become more developed!

Photo of Kenneth Walton

Thanks Ben,
I just added you to this team and sent you a note on what I think are the first hurdles to get over:
1. How to work with the AARP to get an incubator started, I am in DC and the AARP head quarters is only two blocks from my office, and they have an office in my building. I will do some research there.
2. How to get seniors comfortable working with younger people when their dream (and some savings) are at risk? What tools or skills can be developed by young people get everyone comfortable quickly.
I think these are good starting points. What do you think?

Photo of Ben Pepin

Thanks for adding me to the team! I think those are both great starting points. I will get to work on matching strategies and the other challenges on the tech end and will send over some updates when ready!

Photo of Kenneth Walton

Great Thanks Ben, as soon as I can I will get over to the AARP office and see if I can gain any new info, and share it with you too!

Photo of Aaryaman Singhal

Hi Kenneth,

I think this is a great idea. I read recently that people over the age of 55 start more businesses than any other age groups. It's hard to say how much that means when you don't know what the other age groups are, but this idea definitely has a lot of potential. As a young student learning some basic tech skills in his degree, I would consider the opportunity to work for a startup as great experience! I think there would be a lot of potential in partnering with college organizations. For example, I know there is a club called Management Information Systems Association at my school. Students in this club are looking for careers in Information Technology and join college clubs to gain "leadership experience," among other things. Students look for leadership experience to help them when they apply for jobs/internships but what better experience is there than working for a startup?

Have you heard from AARP about starting an incubator?

Photo of Jerry Walton

Kenny, I think it's a great idea. As a recent AARP enrollee, and one who definitely doesn't relate to the outdated term of "senior", I think it would be great to have access to younger, tech saavy individuals in my post retirement years to help bring some of my thoughts to fruition. Sounds promising.

Photo of Anthony Hughes

Hi Ken

The concept is wornderful and it is a great way for retirees to obtain new skills by and assist younger generations with achieving their full potential by sharing their skills with them as well. I think when individuals retire society believes that they have nothing left to offer and/or gain that is not the case. This is a wonderful idea the information provided on the site is stratight forward and easy to follow. I believe is this venture goes forward many people will definitely sign on and help shape the future by mentoring up and down. Thanks

Photo of Sherry Kolodziejczak

Love this idea, I have been toying around with matching you to seniors at Assisted Living facilities. The goal is to connect seniors to their grandchildren and children via social media. An example is my facility hosts a teen volunteer program. I've meet with two of those teens and ask them
their interest working with seniors to connect them to social media. Both were open and eager. So far we have had two meetings and have identified FB as the social media avenue of choice. Both teens and I are now reaching out to local assisted livings to offer this program. I will keep you posted.

Photo of Kenneth Walton

Thanks for the comments Sherry, I love the idea of using an Incubator in an Assisted Living facilities. My dad spent several years in assisted living, and he had years of both teaching and business experience that he wanted very much to share, he said it all the time. I know had the opportunity been there for him in the facility to work with young people it would have added greatly to his quality of life, and happiness.
I think the AARPubator idea is pretty flexible, and so Assisted Living facilities can be one type of prototype application. Would you be willing to be a part of the team and maybe outline how this could work in your facility as a prototype? Adding you to the team!
Thanks Sherry

Photo of Sherry Kolodziejczak

Count me in!

Photo of OpenIDEO

Congrats on your idea making it to the Top 20 shortlist, Kenneth! We really love how you’re already imagining how existing programs like AARP Experience Corps and the AmeriCorps national service network could serve as a launchpad for incubators. We agree that it may make sense for your team connect with someone at Mentor Up directly to gather insights. One of their partner organisations, Temple University, could also be an interesting resource to explore how your idea might fit nicely within existing programs.
We’d recommend reaching out to Al Browne (of AARP Foundation) or Deirdre Gonsalves (from Mentor Up partner org, 4H) for feedback. Both Al and Deirdre are active in the challenge and would be glad to connect with you! While you’ve listed your idea under the “Tools for Connection” opportunity area, we also think this is such a wonderful way to imagine “Unifying Networks” – something you’re already thinking about in connection with AARP Experience Corps. The next iteration might mean getting tangible. How might you envision prototyping your idea? How can it best be communicated visually? We’re excited to see such a supportive team come together and help this idea take flight! For more tips for this Refinement phase, check out and catch our Lowdown on Refinement at

Photo of Jacqueline Morgan

So Kenneth... how can we help you ? What do you need to move your idea forward? Sounds like Felipe, Ben and myself are all keen to help your idea take wings....

Photo of Kenneth Walton

I think brainstorming ideas is what I need most. Your comment about involving local universities was excellent, and the thing that really begins to make this concept a bit more believable. If you have the time and are willing, it would be great if you could to develop that idea in a more detailed way. Possibly look at some the “Opportunity Areas” for the challenge and see if we can begin to answer some of the questions posed there in your thinking.
Thanks a Lot

Photo of Felipe Cabezas

hey kenneth, how can i help out? my thought is to reach out to the tech community in dc to see if this is something people may be interested in. i focus on dc because you'd be able to meet up with people if need be to explain the idea and how it could be built and to help to do that. (perhaps dc's a pilot/prototype location ...) maybe jacqueline could also reach out colleges in the dc area, too. what are your thoughts? jacqueline and ben, how about you? wondering if narrowing energies to one geographic area might be more manageable to test out the idea initially ... don't know.

kenneth, would love to meet in person in dc but will be heading to jordan for a few months in a few days. definitely interested in helping out as much as i can, though.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Awesome, constructive suggestions, Felipe! We're excited about what might come of your suggestion.

And here's a friendly tip: update your OpenIDEO profile so folks can dig who they're collaborating with here. Think skills, experience, passions & wit! Looking forward to seeing more of you across conversations on this challenge...

Photo of Kenneth Walton

Sorry for the delay in responding, I had 3 back to back deadlines at work. Yes thanks for the suggestion; I think it is a great idea! If you know people in the tech community here go for it, and the same for Jacqueline. As far as I am concerned you can feel free to add to the concept as you see fit. I think of it as introducing a kernel but hoping that the team will grow it into something bigger and believable. So no ownership just go for it. If we are all local we could meet and add content together if you guys like.

Photo of Felipe Cabezas

kenneth, you mentioned earlier that you were considering meeting with aarp (and other similar organizations?) to gauge their reception to this idea. were you able to do that? how did it go? i'll try to get in touch with people in the tech scene in dc, but of course having some partners already lined up who would be interested in this would make the idea a much easier sell. let me know.

Photo of Kenneth Walton

I reached out to a group called the AARP Experience Corps. The group utilizes the time, skills and experience of adults over age 50 to help students in kindergarten through third grade develop the academic skills, self-confidence and personal skills needed to succeed in school and in life.
I have not had the bandwidth to follow up, but I think this may be a group that can offer help with our concept. While their focus is K-3rd education it is basically an mentoring group with an education focus, so they may have the ability to reach local universities.
I will try again early next week to see what I can get done.

Photo of Eliza Rosenbaum

Felipe and Kenneth - it might also be worth reaching out to our mighty meetup leader in DC, Logan. Check out the OpenIDEO Meetup page and email him directly here!

Photo of Kenneth Walton

Thanks Eliza, I sent a note to Logan! I will let you know what happens.

Photo of Eliza Rosenbaum

Awesome, Kenneth!

Photo of Kevin Clark
Team may be a good resource for this idea

Photo of Felipe Cabezas

hey kenneth, i like the idea - the way it flips the traditional direction of advising/expertise. jacqueline's idea of partnering with schools is solid. how about local tech or meet-up groups, too? some are super vibrant and may involve less red tape than schools. thoughts?

to me, the big question is ensuring that both groups are able to learn about each other's experiences, ideas and skills to see if they would like to partner or not. this could be done through a web platform and/or through in-person pitches (or whatever you want to call it). the platform could scale more easily, but the pitches have that invaluable meet-you-in-person quality. it'd probably be possible to prototype both ...

i'm in dc, too. i can totally see many people in the area wanting to support this. i myself would be happy to help in whatever way i could.

Photo of Paul Reader

All great suggestions Jacqueline, Ben and Felipe.
Do you have any thoughts on ways to engage the younger members of the youth cohort (those still in high school)?

Photo of Deirdre Gonsalves

Good question! This is exciting to think about the continuum for middle/high school youth through college level.
It appears as though there might be a couple of entry-points for youth engagement. Whether it is school-based, faith-based, university-sponsored, or part of a public-private initiative, there is opportunity to organize.
For example, there are most likely a number of school-affiliated clubs that youth participate in. And not all subjects need be technology-based to provide support for starting a business. Junior Achievement programs at middle and high schools focus on principals of business and finance. And there are mock stock-investment clubs, social activation groups, and robotics and coding clubs. These could be great settings to develop opportunities for youth and older adults partnering. The club leader/teacher could work with the older adult(s) to create informal focus groups, conduct community market research and implement simple tech projects that could give fledgling business concepts life. Higher education students/clubs/groups could participate as well, by acting as mentors to youth. They could provide subject matter focus and guidance, perhaps twice a quarter to youth and older adults, taking busy schedules into account. (And don't forget local community colleges with strong computer and health sciences programs). The end result for the older adults would be gaining new information (tech, resources, data research, youth perspective, etc. ) for developing a solid business plan. All of the youth would gain real-time knowledge acquisition of developing a business plan, giving back to community and strengthening their resume for future opportunities. And everyone would go deeper in establishing intergenerational connections and understanding.

Photo of Paul Reader

There might be some good provocation in Annie's Learning Chain
( )
which I prefer to think of as a Learning Pipeline that can be tapped at lots of points for both output and input.
Annie uses an example of improving adults creative writing and one of my thoughts in initiating the Mentoring Networks concept was around students with a year or two's foreign language skills partnering with adults taking on another language in later life. I realise these are not business examples but theprinciple is similar.

Photo of Jacqueline Morgan

Kenneth and Ben ! great idea ... love the leverage of Goggle Incubator idea... Is there a local college/university in the area with an strong business program? Association with this program (as an officially sanctioned program within the degree curriculum itself) might alleviate the very real concerns noted below about putting money at risk. I think in this engagement model, a strong "official" relationship would benefit both parties - again creating a relationship that is highly relevant to the actions and needs of both parties...


Photo of Kenneth Walton

Great idea! I love the thinking around being able to merge the AARP with "an officially sanctioned university program within the degree curriculum itself". Not only does it create a lot of mentoring possibilities , it also reinforces the concept that one should never stop educating themselves. That idea also build a direct link to an ocean of willing mentees to the AARP!

Photo of Jacqueline Morgan

Kenneth... perhaps an early incubator idea might be to speak with AARP regarding the existing relationships that they have with universities/colleges/tech schools... Then think through which 2-3 of these schools might be the BEST candidate for your idea ( carefully evaluate "best", as you want to set your idea up for success so very carefully screen the schools )....

Photo of Kenneth Walton

That just became our lightweight prototype!

Photo of Paul Reader

Lots of great thinking going on here .
I'm personally interested in undertaking tertiary study again even though I don't have the financial means to do so, which is why I take on MOOCs from time to time.
Bearing in mind the target age group of the mentors it does seem sensible to incorporate it into curriculum.

Photo of Kenneth Walton

Thanks for the comment Paul!,
I thought about MOOC's myself after seeing Jacqueline's comment. It extends the concept beyond a local area.

Photo of Paul Reader

Yes, actually, on reflection, I was certainly learning a lot from those younger than myself while participating in the MOOCs, as indeed I do here, but it doesn't quite fit my definition of mentoring. However, as someone who loves to pass on newly acquired knowledge and skills I am open to receiving that new knowledge from any generation. On the other hand if the mentoring could be incorporated into MOOC participation it might be mutually beneficial to both parties.