The Illinois Intergenerational Initiative was founded by Jane Angelis in cooperation with the Illinois Board of Higher Education in 1986 to involve older adults in education as tutors, mentors, and sharers of their life experiences. Individuals from 40 organizations came together for a retreat at Allerton Park in central Illinois to discuss the potential for a statewide coalition that would target intergenerational development. Representatives from universities, community colleges, aging organizations, elementary and secondary groups, service organizations, and state agencies discussed the roles their organizations could play in this new initiative.
Participants said that one of the retreat's greatest benefits was that it brought together people who were working parallel and had much in common. Also considered valuable was the time spent analyzing organizations to determine the potential for promoting intergenerational programs. Everyone made commitments on how they could work together. As a follow-up and to promote communication within the fledgling network, a quarterly newsletter named Continuance was established.
The original steering committee included the Illinois Board of Higher Education, Illinois Community College Board, the Illinois Department on Aging, the Board of Regents, the Board of Governors, the Illinois State Board of Education, and the Intergenerational Initiative. A central focus in the early years was the creation of awareness and interest among leaders and decision makers, through publications, meetings, and advocacy for intergenerational approaches. More than 25 years have passed since the first retreat and work continues to enrich education through intergenerational programs, service initiatives, and communication across generations. Most recently, UNESCO featured an article about Generations Serving Generations called “We’re in this Together.”