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A Path Forward for Older People in California: Inside the Master Plan for Aging

On June 10, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order to create a Master Plan for Aging, a blueprint to address current and future opportunities to produce age-friendly environments where all older people in California have the resources and opportunities to thrive.

By the year 2030, California’s 65-and-over population will grow to 8.6 million, meaning one in five residents will be a senior. Guided by a vision of “building an age-friendly state so that all Californians can age with dignity and independence,” the governor has mandated the completion of this framework so state and local government, the private sector and philanthropists can implement partnerships and strategies that promote healthy aging and prepare California for the impending demographic shift.

The Master Plan is currently under development, with a completion date of December 2020. Over the last year, four subcommittees have met regularly to hash out the details guided by four goals, which form the foundation of the plan. The committees also solicited input from the public to help shape their conclusions. As part of this process, San Diego Seniors Community Foundation (SDSCF) issued a formal policy recommendation to the Stakeholder Advisory Committee advocating for greater investment in our local senior centers.

Supporting Older Californians Now and Into the Future

As a stakeholder in the development of a more expansive and dynamic network of supports for older adults in our region, SDSCF submitted a policy recommendation to operationalize the Master Plan goals by investing in community senior centers.

SDSCF completed an assessment of the state of senior centers in San Diego County in August 2019. To build upon that work, SDSCF is now in the process of creating a comprehensive senior center master plan that will serve to guide policymakers, local stakeholders and the philanthropic community on the development of a modern, sophisticated network of senior centers to support today and tomorrow’s older adult.

We see a strong synergy between our senior center master plan and the State’s master plan goals. Senior centers provide tangible services that help realize the many abstract ideals stated in the primary goals. The Master Plan for Aging calls for a transformation of local communities to become age-friendly. We believe a 21st-century senior center equipped to deliver services along a holistic continuum is the natural model for an anchoring community entity to serve this noble endeavor.

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, senior centers needed a great deal of help to realize their potential in meeting this moment. The current environment consists of senior centers that are underfunded, under-staffed and under-utilized. Most facilities are old and outdated, with limited equipment, inadequate technology, and very little aesthetic appeal. It is difficult for under-resourced senior center directors to pursue innovative ideas that might attract new users when their focus is simply to survive from day to day.

As the goals of the state’s Master Plan provide the needed vision, SDSCF’s policy proposal calling for increased funding to create more vibrant senior centers is the tangible vehicle to realize that vision and help older Californians to flourish.

For more information on the California Master Plan for Aging, please visit

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