Seniors community foundation packs a punch

Bob Kelly, founder, CEO and president of San Diego Seniors Community Foundation/SDCF

A new, well-funded and ultra-connected non-profit called San Diego Seniors Community Foundation entered the local arena with a splashy new “senior center assessment,” finding “San Diego’s senior population is rising, but the community is not ready for change.”

The 11-page report got a lot of play in the media following its Aug. 20 release, and why not. Bob Kelly, former president and CEO of The San Diego Foundation, is the group’s founder. For those perhaps unfamiliar, The San Diego Foundation is the biggest player in the competitive local charity market. This group handles mega-dollar grants and the creme de la creme of well-heeled philanthropy funds.

Prior to joining The San Diego Foundation, Kelly served as executive director of the American Cancer Society San Diego and vice president for Southern California. He also previously served as assistant to the president and senior vice president of Sharp HealthCare and chief operating officer for Sharp HealthCare Foundation. He also was senior vice president for CCP and Associates, a comprehensive cancer center consulting firm.

“Bob’s commitment to his community is clearly reflected in his many volunteer roles and services activities, including time spent as a board member of the San Diego Symphony Foundation, the San Diego Real Estate Foundation, Beauchamp Charities, the Children’s Initiative, and Hubbs Seaworld Research Institute,” he says on his new San Diego Seniors Community Foundation web site.

“He is a past president of the UCSD Alumni Association and a former chair of the Sharp HealthCare board, League of California Community Foundations, Youth for Progress, and San Diego Grantmakers. Bob has also served on the boards of the San Diego Chamber Foundation, the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, the Elsinore Cattle Co., the International Community Foundation, and the De Anza Country Club. He is a member of the Downtown Rotary and a graduate of UC San Diego.

His current positions include:

  • Chairman, Borrego Valley Endowment Fund
  • Board member, Mingei International Museum
  • Board member, San Diego Hunger Coalition
  • Board member, Legler Benbough Foundation
  • Board member, Voice of San Diego
  • One of nine committee members, Rotary International ($1.5 billion assets under management).”

Funding for the seniors, or rather the Seniors Community Foundation

As befits the pedigree, and San Diego Foundation affiliation — along with other partners Gary and Mary West Foundation, Domanica Foundation, and the Roland and Ramona Sahm Foundation — the seniors community group appears to be highly funded and ready to roll with a 6-person professional management staff and prestigious board of directors consisting of high-powered medicine, health, academic and business partners.

The new group is a grantmaking vehicle with the ability to distribute funds from grants to selected projects. Want to apply. Please contact Kimberly Cunningham at

Giving is easy if you got it. Membership is open to all who give $100 or more. Even better, people can open a donor-advised fund to support seniors.

“Opening a fund allows you and your family to decide which nonprofits you would like to support. We can assist with research and tours to help make your gift strategic and meaningful. We strive to inspire and connect donors to organizations that serve seniors in SD County. To learn more about opening a fund, contact Bob Kelly at”

The top rung on the ladder is leaving a legacy.

“Create an enduring legacy in support of seniors in our region by establishing a fund that will be in place to ensure your estate is used to provide for the well-being and vitality of seniors, now and forever…By opening a legacy fund, you will join fellow San Diegans who are committed to supporting senior issues in our region. You can establish a legacy fund today in conjunction with establishing a planned gift.”

Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities, said the group received its non-profit status in April 2017, but could not be rated due to not providing the necessary financial information to the evaluator from its IRS Form 990 N, used for income less than $50,000 a year.

“A lack of a rating does not indicate a positive or negative assessment by Charity Navigator,” the charity group said.

Likewise, the GuideStar nonprofit data base of 2.7 million nonprofits includes San Diego Seniors Community Foundation basic information, but not its IRS Form 990-N details.

The IRS listed the foundation as saying it had income less than $50,000 for the 2017 Tax Period running from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 and the 2016 Tax Period from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.

However, the foundation would appear to have far in excess of $50,000 in income due to its staffing requirements alone. The full Form 990-N report will be posted and available Nov. 1, 2019, Kelly said.

Back to considering the state of the seniors

San Diego County senior center locations/San Diego Seniors Community Foundation

While the senior population is growing exponentially, costs are rising and a significant number of seniors are left with few alternatives for help, according to the foundation

“Many seniors struggle to take care of themselves, to accomplish activities of daily living (ADLs) due to mobility issues or worsening dementia. Stairs, rugs, and bathing and cooking hazards can render many homes potential danger zones. As a result, 31 percent of people age 65 and older suffer a fall that permanently affects their mobility—whether it involves adding a cane, walker or wheelchair to their lives.”

Private home care is one of the 10 fastest-growing job categories in the United States, according to th group. Recently, care of the aging population has risen to $20 per hour, and has already begun to migrate from nursing homes to assisted living and increasingly to home-based care.

“It’s is clear from age-related trends that there will not be enough caregivers to help seniors age at home if they need substantial assistance. This gap in care results from the convergence of senior population growth, increase in life expectancy, looming health-care issues, and flat growth among younger women—still the primary source for home care, assisted living and nursing home aides.”

The group is focusing its efforts on growing senior centers, assisting those who are called senior orphans lacking nearby relatives and support, bettering the safety net, incrasing civic participation, dealing with senior homelessness, engaging in public policy outreach, coducting rsearch and providing educational resources.

San Diego Senior Center Assessment

The first research project is an 11-page report, a first-ever study of San Diego County senior centers. The study identified significant challenges and opportunities for improvement. As the senior population in San Diego continues to grow, SDSCF believes that investment in senior centers will play a major role in improving the wellbeing of older adults.

Key findings included:

  • The majority of facilities countywide are older and in need of renovation, repair, and additional or newer equipment.
  • Across the board, lack of resources limits the ability of senior centers to expand available services and programs and increase qualified staffing.
  • Funding for senior centers is limited by tight municipal budgets, a lack of fundraising infrastructure, and no culture of philanthropy.
  • Outreach programs to identify and serve socially isolated seniors are minimal.
  • Many seniors are unable to access transportation to and from senior centers.
  • The size and number of existing senior centers are inadequate to serve the senior population—a problem that will be exacerbated in coming years.
  • We believe philanthropy is the solution to many of these issues

There are almost half a million people in San Diego County over the age of 65 and the number will hit 1 million by 2030, the study said.

Currently, San Diego County has 28 senior centers that serve only 8% of the area’s total senior population, according to the study. Nearly a quarter of the centers have no full-time employees and 21 were built more than 30 years ago.

Kelly, the foundation’s president, said to KPBS, more must be done.

“If society doesn’t deal with it on the front end by keeping people mentally healthy, physically healthy, socially healthy and financially healthy … we’re going to end up taking care of them in other facilities,” Kelly said.

According to Priya Sridhar of KPBS, Leslie found the Ed Brown Senior Center at Rancho Bernardo three years ago and has been a loyal member ever since. She takes tap dancing and fitness classes every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

“When you’re a senior, you have to keep moving, moving, moving,” she said. “You can’t just sit on the sofa and eat bonbons. You have to be around people.”

For $190 a year, Leslie has access to more than 30 classes and activities available at the senior center. The center’s $80,000 annual operating budget comes mostly from membership fees of their approximately 300 members and fundraising events, said Lynn Wolsey who volunteers as the executive director of the center.

She said the center plays a vital role for keeping seniors connected with one another.

“Isolation is a big problem. It’s not just a mental health problem, it’s a physical health problem as well because people who are lonely get depressed and people who are depressed don’t eat properly, they get sick,” Wolsey said. “We serve that need.”

On to the report

If you want to read the report, you can view the summary….

Or take in the full report:

Demographics and Resources

This information is provided by the San Diego Seniors Community Foundation:

Facts & Figures



As those in the baby boom generation age, the San Diego senior population continues to grow at a faster pace than the total population in the county. Between 2000 and 2030 it is projected that:

  • the 60+ population will increase from 404,025 to 929,766; a 130 percent increase;
  • the 65+ population will increase from 313,750 to 722,545; a 130 percent increase;
  • the 75+ population will increase from 153,691 to 324,855; a 111 percent increase;
  • the general population will increase from 2,813,833 to 3,870,000; a 38 percent increase.

By the year 2030, 1 in 4 San Diegans will be age 60 or older.

Source: San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency Aging and Independent Services:


  • Of the older adults who were living outside nursing homes or hospitals in 2010, nearly one third (11.3 million) lived alone.
  • Older women are twice as likely as older men to live alone (37 percent and 19 percent, respectively). In 2010, 72 percent of older men lived with a spouse, only 42 percent of older women did.
  • Living arrangements differ by race and ethnicity. Older non-Hispanic White women and Black women are more likely than women of other races to live alone (39 percent each, compared with about 21 percent of older Asian women and 23 percent of older Hispanic women).
  • The likelihood of living alone increases with age. Among women age 75+, almost half (47 percent) lived alone in 2010.

Source: The Institute on Aging:


Elder abuse includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. Perpetrators include children, other family members, and spouses—as well as staff at nursing homes, assisted living, and other facilities.

Approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse. It is estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities.

Source: National Council on Aging: 


42% of the San Diego senior population (ages 65+) does not have enough income to meet basic needs, as measured by the California Elder Economic Security Standard Index.

Source: Insight:

According to County of San Diego data:

  • 17.4% of San Diego County seniors (age 65+) are still in the labor force (2016)

  • 9.1% of San Diego County seniors live at or below the federal poverty level (2016)

  • 26.1% of San Diego County seniors live between 100% and 200% of the federal poverty level (2016)

    • So roughly 35% of the San Diego senior population lives below 200% of the federal poverty level

Source: Live Well San Diego:


Aging-related websites:

Live Well San Diego data portal: 

San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency Community Health Statistics reports:

— Courtesy San Diego Seniors Community Foundation

Be the first to comment on "Seniors community foundation packs a punch"

Leave a comment