Project Update: Elder Voices on Ferguson

September 6, 2016

Bettie Bofinger Brown Distinguished Professor of Social Policy, Brown School, and Director of the Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging

The first phase of the Elder Voices on Ferguson project was recently completed and the team, led by Nancy Morrow-Howell, MSW, PhD, has begun to disseminate findings and work on next steps.

The team includes partners from Washington University, University of Missouri-St. Louis, St. Louis County Department of Planning, Mid-East Area Agency on Aging, and Better Family Life.

The project is supported by Washington University’s Ferguson Academic Seed Fund. The aim of the first phase of the project was to learn how older adults experienced the civil unrest following the death of Michael Brown Jr., how they are currently engaged in their communities, and how might they become more involved.

Between September 2015 and February 2016, 10 focus groups were conducted with 73 adults, age 60 years and older who resided in Ferguson and nearby communities.

Focus groups discussed issues around several themes, including: safety, intergenerational communications, youth identity, race relations, the role of media, and support for older adults. The team also compiled a list of suggestions made by participants, which they plan to share with public officials and other relevant stakeholder groups.

“Older adults expressed an interest in being more involved with youth, with their neighborhoods, and with the wider community,” concludes the report, and proceeds to advocate for additional efforts to be made to include elderly St. Louis county residents in social activism and community engagement activities.

For more information on the project and the phase one findings, read the focus group summary here. If you have questions or desire additional information, contact the Institute’s Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging at at or 314-747-9192.

Click here to read an UMSL Daily blog post about the project.

About the Ferguson Academic Seed Fund Program

Washington University’s Ferguson Academic Seed Fund was established to “help fund efforts that facilitate intellectual discourse, support curricular innovation, promote new research, pilot programs for larger intellectual undertakings, or invite academic residencies on issues and topics that underscore root causes for recent events in our region and around the country.” The Institute for Public Health is also offering a matching grant for projects that address a problem related to some aspect of public health. Learn more.