What happens when you take kids at an elementary school in South Los Angeles and pair them with older adults in their community? Everybody wins.
Welcome to the Generation Xchange (GenX) Program, a partnership between the UCLA Department of Medicine (Divisions of Geriatrics and General Internal Medicine in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the L.A. Unified School District). The mission is to promote greater health and wellness outcomes in at-risk older adults, while simultaneously supporting greater academic and behavioral outcomes for children in grades kindergarten through 3rd grade.
The GenX Program places older community volunteers into grades K-3 elementary school classrooms to help students improve reading and math skills. Designed as a truly intergenerational program, GenX contributes to each generation it serves.The program promotes health in the older adult volunteers by appealing to their interest in children, drawing these adults participants into a structured program that provides social, physical, and cognitive activities. In turn, GenX seeks to improve academic and behavioral outcomes for children, with particular attention to support for reading proficiency. Successful educational trajectories have been shown to depend on learning to read by third grade (e.g., children who fail to achieve such proficiency are significantly more likely to drop out of school before they graduate from high school).
S. Banks Zakariya. "Learning to read, reading to learn." The Center for Public Education, 2015.
L. Fiester. "Early warning confirmed: a research update on third-grade reading." The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2013.
D. J. Hernandez. "Double jeopardy: how third-grade reading skills and poverty influence high school graduation." The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2012.
Gen-X in the News
Gen-X has been featured in a number of local Los Angeles news articles including this feature in the Bonne Boswell Reports on PBS SoCal.
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Interested in volunteering to help the Generation Xchange program?
- Studies have shown that mentored youth are 52% more likely to stay in school and also complete more homework assignments than youth without mentors
- Nearly 25% of chronically underperforming schools are located in South Los Angeles – our programs target area
- On average 40% of youth attending schools in our target area are in foster care or kinship care and need positive adult role models.
- 1 in 6 children who are not reading proficiently by 3rd grade fail to graduate from high school on time.
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- GenX is an excellent program. It's a win-win: the school wins because it gets more adults in the schools that can support teachers' efforts, the children win because they get more caring adults in the classroom and more personal attention, and the volunteers win because they get to help in their local community and improve their health in the process.
- Linda Ricks, Generation Xchange volunteer, retired office manager, and longtime community advocate