Naturally occurring retirement communities, or NORCs, are age-integrated communities in which significant numbers of seniors have chosen to age in place. Over the past 20 years, an innovative model has been developed in inner-city, suburban, and rural locations to engage older adults living in NORCs. Blending the principles of community organizing with strategic approaches to providing services, this model’s goal is to shift the traditional paradigm from an exclusive emphasis on service provision for individuals to one that also promotes community change.
These supportive service programs, more generally called NORC programs, promote multi-partner, multidisciplinary partnerships that bring together familiar—but often dysfunctionally siloed— health care and social service providers, community organizers, government, philanthropy, and the community’s residents, especially its seniors.NORC programs are designed to empower older adults, foster connections within the community, and maximize the health and well-being of all older adults in the NORC.
In many communities, philanthropy has been instrumental in developing and promoting the NORC program model, often catalyzing new relationships among the disparate stakeholders who must work together. Philanthropy has provided seed money to launch programs, operational support for existing programs, and targeted funding for innovative responses to unique community issues.
The NORC program model is complex. At any stage of development, funders can expect applicants to address these key questions:
- Is this community a NORC? What are the density and proximity criteria that define
- What are the challenges in this community to aging in place? Whose perspectives are being considered? Those of providers? Residents? Community stakeholders?
- Who are the partners, and do they represent the community? Does the applicant have the capacity to run a partnership?
- What will change as a result of this NORC program?
The NORC Blueprint can help position funders to work with others in related fields of interest, as well as set reasonable expectations and criteria for evaluating applications that seek NORC program support. As you evaluate NORC program proposals through your own organization’s lens, you may find the following tables helpful:
Reviewing NORC Program Planning Proposals (PDF File, 20KB)
Reviewing NORC Program Operational Proposals (PDF FIle, 22KB)
Reviewing NORC Program Targeted Intervention Proposals (PDF File, 21KB)