The NYC Elder Abuse Center at Weill Cornell Medicine is highlighting organizations that are making advancements in the field of racial equity. This month we feature the National Caucus and Center on Black Aging (NCBA).
The National Caucus and Center on Black Aging is the country’s oldest advocacy organization dedicated to aging issues and the only national organization devoted to minority and low-income aging. NCBA works to protect and improve the quality of life for older adults making certain that legislators, policymakers, philanthropists, advocacy groups, service organizations, thought leaders, and the public at large include minority seniors in their programs, policy- and law-making, and giving. Cornerstone programs include health and wellness programming, gerontological research, safe and affordable housing, job training, and employment opportunities.
Established in 1977, NCBA Housing Management Corporation (NCBA-HMC) is the organization’s largest program and service to older adults. NCBA-HMC provides senior housing to older adults with operations in Washington, DC and Silver Spring, MD.
NCBA also administers the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) to over 3,500 older adults, age 60+ in various cities. SCSEP is a community service and work-based job training program for older Americans. Priority is given to Veterans and their qualified spouses, then to individuals who: are over age 65; have a disability; have low literacy skills or limited English proficiency; reside in a rural area; may be homeless or at risk for homelessness; have low employment prospects; failed to find employment after using services through the American Job Center system.
Likewise, NCBA administers the Environmental Employment (SEE) Program. This program provides older adults, age 55+, with professional backgrounds in engineering, public information, chemistry, writing, and administration, the opportunity to remain active in the workforce while sharing their talents with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, DC, and at EPA Regional Offices and Environmental Laboratories in North Carolina, Oklahoma, Florida, and Georgia.
Angie Boddie directs NCBA’s health and wellness program. The health and wellness program works to advance the principles of activity and vitality at a mature age; works to decrease access barriers to healthcare, and reduce or eliminates health disparities among older adults. The program also offers continual education, resources, and technical assistance either in-person, online, or through self-paced learning opportunities. With a professional background in public relations and health communications, Angie joined NCBA in 2004. Angie said, “she learns something new every day”.
Angie shared her thoughts on some of the ways that the NCBA has continued to thrive and be successful in its mission.
Your organization/group set up a Coronavirus Task Force. What was the impetus for that, and what are some of the goals and objectives of the Task Force?
“In 2020, NCBA set up a Coronavirus Task Force. The impetus for setting up the Task Force was to assure older adults, their families, and caregivers received real-time, credible information and resources about COVID-19, especially at the onset of the pandemic when information was sometimes misconstrued. Many of the older adults that we serve do not use or have access to technology, including the television, telephone, personal computer, or the Internet. Realizing the severity of the digital divide, our external newsletter helps us to update our readers on the latest news and information about COVID-19.
In addition to our COVID-19 task force, NCBA also co-convened the Vaccine and Equity Education project, along with the Alliance for Aging Research and Healthy Women. This project aims to provide education and advocate for adherence to a gold-standard process for vaccinations; promote the impact of vaccination uptake in protecting individuals, families, and communities; raise awareness of COVID-19 vaccination for public health, the economy, and broader society; lead a conversation that helps ensure equitable access to vaccines through equitable access to information and dialogue’.
How are NCBA’s programs rooted in racial justice and equity, and in your opinion why are these programs successful?
“Racial justice and equity are at the heart of NCBA’s mission and everything we do. At NCBA, we work to ensure the stated purpose of the Older Americans Act of 1965 which is to “ensure equal opportunity to the fair and free enjoyment of: adequate income in retirement; the best possible physical and mental health services without regard to economic status; suitable housing; restorative and long-term care; opportunities for employment; retirement in health, honor, and dignity; civic, cultural, educational and recreational participation and contribution; efficient community services; immediate benefit from proven research knowledge; freedom, independence, and the exercise of self-determination; and protection against abuse neglect and exploitation”.
In my opinion, NCBA programs are successful because my colleagues and I are committed to making sure everyone, including older adults from all communities have what they need to enjoy full and healthy lives. Through consulting, education, advocacy, and solution-based action plans, we stand ready as ever to create, support, and sustain equitable opportunities and outcomes for seniors today and for generations to come”.
My wish for all elder justice professionals as we further racial equity is…
“As we further racial equity, I hope all elder justice professionals continue to listen, engage, be slow to act, and respond with heart”.
Read more about the NCBA at https://ncba-aging.org.