Innovation Programs Grants

The I’m Still Here Foundation is launching its 2022 Innovation Programs Grants competition. We will be offering seed money for community programs that engage and support persons living with dementia. Please let us know your idea and interest in funding by completing this form and sending it to grant@imstillhere.org by December 31, 2021. Those selected will be invited to submit full applications no later than February 28, 2022.

For further information, contact Mary Anne Grant, Executive Director, by emailing grant@imstillhere.org.

The I’m Still Here Foundation, with generous support from the Cummings Foundation and other donors, established its Innovation Programs grants to provide seed funding for new and exciting community programs that engage and involve Persons Living With Dementia and their caregivers. The aims of this program are to promote the implementation of the ‘I’m Still Here’ principles and to encourage inventiveness and innovation in engaging PLWD in their community and the arts.

In addition to seed funding, grantees may also receive advice for implementing their programs and support to gather data for assessing the program’s impact on beneficiaries’ quality of life.

In 2021, care partners, families, private and community groups, and organizations were invited to submit innovative ideas in a Letter of Interest. Of the 18 letters received, seven were selected by the Innovation Grants Committee and asked to submit a full proposal. Each application was assessed to ensure that it:

  • Meets ISH principles,
  • Creates a close link between program content and cognitive abilities of Persons Living with Dementia,
  • Is well planned and clearly targeted to needy populations, and
  • Optimizes funding for direct impact.

Program successes and positive innovations are shared and celebrated on this page, to ensure maximum impact and lessons learned.

AWARDS – The following programs and activities for Persons Living with Dementia were successfully implemented with support from the I’m Still Here Foundation’s Innovative Programs grant funds:

2020 Award

  • Equine Therapy Program, at Windrush Farm, Andover, MA.
    Staff and family members accompany persons living with dementia to this small friendly horse farm to meet, get to know, groom and pet their horses. Everyone relaxes around the horses, new relationships are formed, and former silent individuals are inspired to speak – a fun time is had by all.

2021 Awards

  • Man’s Best Friend Innovative Community Engagement Program by Poydras Home in New Orleans, LA
    Poydras is creating a partnership with a local animal rescue organization to enhance the lives of persons living with dementia through animal companionship and enduring social, emotional, and tactile experiences.
  • Virtual Exercise Classes by the Town of Arlington, MA
    This project creates and offers specialized virtual exercise classes for persons with dementia living at home, engaging with care partners. They are taught by a trained Dementia Friend fitness instructor.
  • Community Social Connections Program by Martha’s Vineyard Center For Living, MA
    This program is designed to offer social events in the community for persons living with dementia, their care partners and the community at large to promote dignity, reduce stigma, support independence and foster community engagement. Events will include music, a social with horses, museum visits, films and more.
  • Art Is…In Program for professional curated art kits by The Memory Center of the University of Chicago Medicine and GoldMind Arts and Aging
    Art kits will be provided for 400 individuals living with dementia so they can engage in meaningful art projects in their own homes.

2022 Awards

Do you have an idea you’d love to have some seed money for? Do you know of others committed to engagement and community involvement for PLWD? Send us your Letter of Interest for the 2022 awards (dates to be announced)!

Caulfield Community Programs Grants

“Art has the ability to transcend the limitations of conventional communication and language, leading to rich emotional connections and enabling people with Alzheimer’s to break out of their shells, to become awakened.” – Sean Caulfield

The I’m Still Here Foundation has created the Caulfield Community Programs grants to fund implementation of Arts programs for PLWD (see list below). Each of these community arts programs was created by Sean Caulfield more than ten years ago when he served as Director of the I’m Still Here Foundation between 1998 and 2017. Many of these programs are still active in communities across this country and abroad.

The Foundation supports organizations in the recruitment and training of volunteer artists to perform and work side by side with people living with Alzheimer’s. These hands-on programs bring artists of all kinds, such as painters, singers, actors, comedians, and belly dancers, into small group contact with people living with Alzheimer’s enabling strong emotional connections to take place.

Those interested in offering a Caulfield Community Program may receive more detailed information from the Foundation. Grants up to $5,000 are expected to be available in 2022 to help organizations set up a program.

Artists for Alzheimer’s (ARTZ)

ARTZ was established to enhance the cultural and creative life of people living with dementia, enable them to express their inner selves, and lessen the stigma that often accompanies a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. ARTZ has sponsored programs in museums, theaters, and communities in the United States and Europe to bring the arts into the lives of persons living with dementia and their caregivers. Most importantly, ARTZ established a network of amateur and professional artists who volunteer to work with or perform for people with dementia in care facilities or in day settings in the community. Activities include

  • Providing guided tours in museums and art galleries using specially trained staff and volunteers to create successful visits with people with dementia engaging their interest and creating memories.
  • Developing programs in local cultural institutions that support access and welcome people with dementia.
  • Building a network of cultural institutions, including sports clubs, cafés, cinemas and theaters in every locality in order to offer a weekly program of events for people with dementia and their caregivers.

ARTZ programs have been offered at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington (Massachusetts), the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Tribeca Cinemas in New York, in Sacramento California, Paris (France) and Oxford (United Kingdom).

Meet Me at the Movies

Meet Me at the Movies is an enjoyable theater experience designed to stimulate and engage individuals experiencing memory loss. It promotes meaningful interactions and a deep understanding between those diagnosed with dementia, their care partners, family members and the communities in which they live. Launched with funding by the National Endowment for the Arts, “Meet Me at the Movies’ is a uniquely interactive film experience. Short clips from classic films and TV shows are shown, followed by audience discussion and reminiscence, guided by a trained moderator.

From classic Hollywood hits to foreign films, action-adventure movies to cult classics, people with memory loss are treated to showings of some of their favorite movies. Popcorn and drinks are complimentary! In follow-up clinical research, program participants have demonstrated higher levels of engagement than a separate matched control group.

Care partners learn to lead question-and-answer sessions that engage both patients and family members, providing joy to both. Meet Me at the Movies demonstrates how film can be an effective form of treatment for people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias when used as a participatory programmed activity.

Meet Me at the Museum

Meet Me at the Museum is a program specifically designed for people with memory challenges. This innovate program draws on the support and collaboration of artists and cultural institutions as resources to share with, educate and inspire seniors with memory loss. The I’m Still Here Foundation has developed Alzheimer’s-specific cultural access programs with some of the world’s most renowned cultural institutions, including the Louvre in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the National Gallery of Australia, and the Big Apple Circus.

Artistic experiences can significantly reduce certain psycho-behavioral symptoms often associated with dementia – anxiety, aggression, agitation and apathy. It also contributes to maintaining cognitive functioning, optimizing remaining capacities and utilizing areas of the brain that, without any effective form of artistic/emotional stimulation, have often gone unused for years. Observations and evaluations have shown improvement in verbal expression, ability to focus attention for longer periods, heightened mood, more engaging social interactions and a greater sense of self.

It Takes a Village

It Takes a Village embraces the local community as a powerful way to help individuals facing Alzheimer’s and dementia – both care partners and persons on the dementia journey. Every community offers a rich variety of “engagement” opportunities often underused by the general public. How many museums are full of visitors on weekdays at 10:00 AM? How many symphony orchestras perform to sold-out audiences at every show? Every community cultural institution has excess capacity which, with carefully designed dementia-friendly programs, can easily serve their citizens living with dementia as well as their care partners. Through the It Takes a Village program, fear of dementia and related stigmas can be reduced or alleviated.

Every week, a community venue, such as a bookshop, museum, or theatre, hosts an ITAV event in which volunteers and staff members plan and facilitate programs aimed to meaningfully engage PLWD and their caregivers.

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Feedback and Measurement

The ISH Foundation studies the impact of all I’m Still Here programs. Feedback and measurement provide information on how much the behavioral effects of memory loss – agitation, aggression, apathy, anxiety, social withdrawal, and depression – are reduced by programs based on the I’m Still Here principles. In addition, we measure improvements to the quality of life of participants.

All new programs supported by the Foundation are asked to collect and provide appropriate data to contribute to this essential research. The data will be collected throughout the program’s implementation and analyzed by professional researchers or by the organization in accordance with an approved data analysis plan. The Foundation provides advice and formats for data collection. Feedback from these analyses will be shared with the program operators, who will be invited to work with Dr. John Zeisel to devise recommendations for program improvements, if needed. No program-specific data will be made public without written permission of grantees.