In 1996, EngAGE’s Founder and Executive Director Tim Carpenter was a marketing professional in the healthcare industry. Visiting senior facilities, Tim noticed residents sitting idly in chairs—not engaged in activities or connecting with one another—and he envisioned what it would look like to turn senior housing into an arts school.
With John Husky, CEO of Meta Housing Corporation (Meta), a Los Angeles-based property developer then focused on affordable senior housing, Carpenter re-imagined the programming that fills the physical building of senior communities. In 1998 Carpenter founded EngAGE, a nonprofit that turns affordable senior apartment communities into vibrant centers of learning, wellness, and creativity.
Today EngAGE works in 39 buildings in 26 cities in California, Minnesota, and Oregon. The business model offers developers a solution to programming at a fixed cost of $15 per unit per month. With an annual budget of over $2 million, EngAGE has found strong demand for its services. EngAGE programs help reduce the number of residents requiring assistance with activities of daily living or regular nursing care by 25%1, generating a monthly savings of $3,000 for 500 sample residents or an annual savings of over $18 million.
In 2005, EngAGE and Meta collaborated to build the Burbank Senior Artists Colony, a 141-unit senior housing facility with a theater, arts studios, digital filmmaking lab, music studio, and an intergenerational program that connects residents with students of the local public school district. Since then, EngAGE and Meta have built seven more arts communities at a cost of $1.5 billion (primarily funded by government tax credits and subsidies). They have expanded into multi-generational artist housing with three facilities targeting artist families and another for veterans.
Over the next five years, Meta and EngAGE anticipate building another ten artist communities that could use $30 million of impact debt.