Since our founding in 2010, the Diverse Elders Coalition has worked to unite, support, and engage diverse communities across the United States.
Our member organizations have headquarters in New York City, Washington D.C., Washington State and New Mexico. Together, we have 107 partners in every region across the country.
Through this partner network, our members are working on the ground to seed change. As examples, through SAGENet — SAGE’s network of local affiliates around the country — SAGE is building a movement to reduce isolation, improve financial security and enhance the quality of life for LGBT older adults. NHCOA’s Hispanic Aging Network — a group of Latino and senior-serving community-based organizations and non-profits—is implementing culturally, linguistically, and age-sensitive programs; conducting targeted research projects, and mobilizing Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers around policy issues that impact their wellbeing.
As a coalition, this robust partner network allows us to have an unusual degree of access to diverse elders across the nation. This translates into advocacy on the state level that is informed by authentic expertise on the challenges faced by diverse elders and the credibility to mobilize diverse elder communities on the issues that affect them.
As part of a series on “Rebuilding Wealth and Economic Opportunity in Communities of Color” sponsored by the National Consumer Law Center’s initiative on Racial Justice & Equal Economic Opportunity, the DEC presented on a webinar entitled, “AGING INTO POVERTY: Economic Insecurity among Older Adults of Color & LGBT Elders,” in May 2014. This webinar highlighted the economic and social challenges adults of color and LGBT elders face—from a history of low earning, to low rates of home ownership, and more— as they age, focusing on programs and policy solutions that can help ameliorate the dire economic challenges they face. Additional presenters included: Odette Williamson, staff attorney, National Consumer Law Center; and Fay Gordon, staff attorney, National Senior Citizens Law Center.
NHCOA, representing the Diverse Elders Coalition, testified before the House Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training in February 2014. NHCOA discussed the success of the Older Americans Act (OAA) in helping older adults age independently and in good health. NHCOA also highlighted the devastating effect that budget cuts have had on the ability of OAA programs to serve diverse elders and recommended that the OAA be updated to prioritize the delivery of services in a culturally and linguistically competent manner.
For National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day 2013, representatives from DEC member organizations SAGE and NHCOA presented on Capitol Hill for a Congressional briefing, reception and hearing that highlighted the challenges facing older adults with HIV and what policymakers can do, such as improving data collection and reporting for early detection to assure prompt treatment and increasing funding of the Ryan White Care Act.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asked the DEC, as the leader on diverse aging issues, to author an article on why open enrollment, through the state marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is important to elders of color. The article list five reasons why open enrollment matters to elders of color and was featured and promoted by HHS during their ACA communities of color week in October 2013.
The DEC also released Why the ACA Matters to Our Communities, a resource that offers step-by-step instructions for enrolling in the Marketplace, as well as for the importance of the ACA for diverse older people. The resource was made available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. Additionally, the DEC launched an original website portal to accompany this resource.
In 2012, Congress introduced two legislative proposals: the Improving Services and Activities for Diverse Elders and the LGBT Elder Americans Act. Policy staffers within the DEC network educated key policy makers in DC about the importance of funding cultural and linguistic competence in aging programs, securing support from the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Among the LGBT Elder Americans Act proposals for the OAA is an amendment that would specify LGBT older adults as a population in “greatest social need,” as well as an amendment that would permanently establish SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, which provides LGBT cultural competence training to aging providers around the country.
The DEC and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development released 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.” The policy report describes the challenges facing these communities and offers concise policy recommendations such as, preserving and protecting Medicare and Medicaid, expanding and strengthening senior employment programs, raising the minimum benefit in the SNAP program for elders, and more. The report also describes various models that can successfully improve economic security for millions of diverse older people nationwide.
To discuss the findings, The DEC held a Congressional briefing on July 25 2012 in Washington D.C.
In 2013, we saw a tremendous opportunity to improve the health of our communities through the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Millions of older people continue to be affected by the health coverage expansions under the ACA. These expansions include the Health Insurance Marketplace, Medicaid expansion, new benefits for elders 65+ on Medicare, and a range of protections that make health care more accessible for LGBT older people and older people of color.
The Diverse Elders Coalition, joined by Community Catalyst, launched new partnerships on the ground in New Mexico and Georgia to facilitate the ongoing education and enrollment of Native American, Bhutanese and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) elders in these two states. These new relationships will help mainstream consumer advocates add new voices to the call for increased coverage for their state’s low income and diverse communities.
Learn more about our state advocacy and education program in New Mexico and Georgia—and why we started in those states:
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 issued a series of media releases about the program’s importance to diverse older people. Additionally, the DEC launched 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 (NASI), this yearlong project supported the development of original media resources that educated policy makers about the importance of Social Security to vulnerable older people nationwide. In addition, DEC member organizations SEARAC, NHCOA and SAGE hosted a series of town halls around the country for older people and helped raise the profile of these issues in racial and ethnic media, and in LGBT media.
To learn more about our highlights and history, visit ‘Our History’ page.
To learn more about the DEC’s federal advocacy efforts, please contact us.