April 2010. Four organizations that later help found the Diverse Elders Coalition meet with the Administration on Aging to discuss the issues facing diverse older people nationwide, including older adults who are poor and low-income; people of color; American Indian and Alaska Native; and lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender.

The meeting includes the National Caucus & Center on Black Aged (NCBA), the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) and Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC).

September 2010. As part of the National Hispanic Council on Aging’s national conference in Washington, DC, NCBA, NHCOA, SAGE and SEARAC hold a joint legislative briefing to discuss how reauthorization of the Older Americans Act can help improve supports for older people in our communities.

The four organizations officially announce the formation of a Diverse Elders Coalition that will focus its advocacy on policy improvements and program models that engage elders of color, American Indian and Alaska Native elders, and LGBT elders.

October 2010. NHCOA, SEARAC and SAGE launch a joint community education and engagement project on Social Security, helping ensure an often marginalized voice in the public debate on Social Security.

Funded by the National Academy for Social Insurance, this yearlong project support these three organizations in developing original media resources that educate policy makers about the importance of Social Security to vulnerable older people nationwide. In addition, the three groups host a series of town halls around the country for older people and help raise the profile of these issues in racial and ethnic media, and in LGBT media.

November 2010. In the midst of President Obama’s Bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and the looming release of a controversial plan that could jeopardize the future of Social Security, the Diverse Elders Coalition issues a series of media releases about the program’s importance to diverse older people.

The ensuing news coverage helps to educate diverse older people about the Social Security debate and urges Congress to strengthen, not cut, benefits.

December 2010. The members of the Diverse Elders Coalition meet for the first time as a coalition, at the headquarters of the National Caucus & Center on Black Aged in Washington, DC. At this historic meeting, the Coalition discusses the urgency of the political moment, as well as the common issues and key differences among our various communities. The coalition continues to meet on a regular basis.

In response, the coalition forms three separate working groups to focus on reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, Social Security, and health care reform implementation. The coalition also agrees on a purpose statement: “To win policy gains that improve the lives of low-income people of color, American Indian, Native Alaskan, and LGBT elders, and to educate and engage our communities on policies that impact our lives.

April 2011. Members of the Diverse Elders Coalition work with the Leadership Council of Aging Organization on its official “Consensus Recommendations for the 2011 Older Americans Act Reauthorization,” to include eight recommendations specific to LGBT elders, as well as racially and ethnically diverse elders, and older adults with HIV/AIDS.

The eight historic recommendations span issues such as definitions of “greatest social need,” “minority” and “family,” to proposals for improving data collection and reporting requirements from state and area agencies on aging.

“As the backbone of our nation’s support system for older adults, it is essential that a reauthorized Older Americans Act recognizes and addresses the needs of all elders. The Leadership Council of Aging Organizations’ consensus document brings to the forefront the unique and special needs of an elder population that is growing in both numbers and diversity.” —Sandra Markwood, CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), in response to the 2011 consensus document from LCAO

June 2011. In June, the National Prevention Council releases its National Prevention Strategy, integrating various recommendations offered by the DEC to make the strategy more age-inclusive, eliminate health disparities and integrate cultural competent approaches to improve the health of our aging communities.

Earlier in the year, the Diverse Elders Coalition submitted official recommendations to the National Prevention Council on how the National Prevention Strategy could better improve the health and quality of life of our country’s diverse elders. In this guidance, the DEC noted: “A national effort to prevent disease and promote wellness should leave no community behind,” including LGBT elders, racially and ethnically diverse elders, and American Indian and Alaska Native elders.

October 2011. The Diverse Elders Coalition leads a panel on diversity and aging at the Grantmakers in Aging Annual Conference in McLean, Virginia.

Representatives from the DEC describe how private philanthropic support can improve the health, economic security and social support of some of our country’s most vulnerable elders. Grantmakers in Aging is a national organization that engages the country’s leading funders from private, family, and community foundations, as well as corporate philanthropy.

June 2012. The Diverse Elders Coalition and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development release a historic report, “Securing Our Future: Advancing Economic Security for Elders of Color, American Indian and Native Alaskan Elders, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Elders.” As part of the report release, members of the DEC work with Grantmakers in Aging to host a special webinar for U.S. foundations interested in these issues.

The policy report describes the challenges facing these communities and offers concise policy recommendations in areas such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, senior employment programs, and more. The report also describes various models that can successfully improve economic security for millions of diverse older people nationwide.

July 2012. The Diverse Elders Coalition launches its official website, which also serves as a news and commentary blog on the social, political and economic issues affecting older people who are poor and low-income, people of color, American Indian and Alaska Native, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender.

The website will also house a digital storytelling booth that allows elders nationwide to share their personal stories about what it means to age in this country—and what policy makers can do to better support our aging communities.