Chicago Innovation Blog

Chicago Innovation Launches New Program in Partnership with The Village Chicago: Ageless Innovators

by | Dec 17, 2018

Ageless Innovators: Intergenerational Co-Mentoring

When it comes to building and managing an organization, everyone, no matter how old or young, has something to teach and something to learn

 CHICAGO – December 17, 2018 – In a partnership with The Village Chicago, Chicago Innovation is launching a new program called Ageless Innovators, an intergenerational co-mentoring program for older innovators in the Chicago region and their younger counterparts.

Call for participants is underway, with the first cohort to be formed in February 2019.  

Ageless Innovators is the first intergenerational co-mentoring program in the Chicago region connecting innovators across businesses.  At its heart will be pairs of innovators—one older and one younger, each with something to teach the other. Each pair of participants will be separated by at least one generation. These older and younger adults will be matched based on their interests, goals and work history with the objective of learning about specific topics from one another.

“In today’s economy, we are seeing huge numbers of highly creative young people launching and managing new businesses, and they, of course, can benefit from the wisdom of those who are older,” said Tom Kuczmarski, Co-Founder of Chicago Innovation, “But at the same time, senior workers, often in very senior positions, can learn an enormous amount from those who are younger.  Whether it is learning how to use the latest technology, growing your network, or understanding how to scale a startup, you’re never too old—or young– to grow and learn from others.”

The program will be comprised of three major elements:

  • Each old/young pair will be matched based upon a particular skill, perspective, or topic they want to explore in depth.
  • All will participate in group workshops designed to explore key topics relating to how embracing the values of age and wisdom—both old and young—bring value to an organization.
  • Each participant will become part of an alumni group that will meet regularly over time and all will participate in the educational activities hosted by Chicago Innovation.

Over the course of the next month, Chicago Innovation will reach out to the community of innovators in the Chicago region with an invitation to participate in Ageless Innovators. While the first two cohorts will be small, each with 20 participants, those with an interest will be considered for future cohorts and will be kept informed. Each older person involved will be seeking information or skills that a younger innovator can provide, and the younger member will be seeking specific guidance from the more senior of the pair.

“Our goal for year one is to create an intergenerational community of innovators where there are 40 mentors and 40 mentees – but only 40 participants,” said Avery Stone Fish, Ageless Innovators Program Manager. “Every mentor is also a mentee.  We believe that cultivating this community of intergenerational innovators will help build organizational and technical skills, while addressing social issues such as ageism in the workplace.”

Grant support for Ageless Innovators has been provided by The Retirement Research Foundation, a national philanthropy which has its headquarters in Chicago. “We are honored to be a funding partner for Ageless Innovators,” said Mary O’Donnell, senior program officer for The Retirement Research Foundation. “We look forward to learning about the meaningful intergenerational connections that will be sparked by this innovative, collaborative effort between Chicago Innovation and The Village Chicago.

“We are grateful for The Retirement Research Foundation’s support of The Village Chicago and Chicago Innovation’s Ageless Innovators Program,” said Kathie Kolodgy, President of The Village Chicago.  “All of us are enriched by living and participating in a diverse community not siloed by age.  We are excited that the Ageless Innovators program will spark learning, friendships, and innovation across generations.”

Applications are now open for the inaugural February-July Cohort.  Participants receive one-on-one mentoring based on their needs/goals, access to unique events, and more. If interested in getting involved, apply here.


About Chicago Innovation

Chicago Innovation, established in 2002 as the Chicago Innovation Awards, have grown from a single awards ceremony to a year-long series of events and activities designed to educate, connect and celebrate innovation in the Chicago region.  The organization’s expansion has included formation of the Chicago Innovation Women’s Mentoring Co-op to support female innovators, the Chicago Student Invention Convention to teach the innovation process to students in K-8th grade, Corporate Start-up Matchmaking to connect large corporations with emerging start-ups, and an Innovation MBA in partnership with IIT that offers graduate students with experiential learning and $10,000 scholarships.  For more information, visit To follow on social media, visit Twitter (@Chi_Innovation) and Facebook sites.


About The Village Chicago

The Village Chicago is a leader in the nationwide Village movement. An innovative, nonprofit organization leveraging the talents, wisdom and skills of its members to enhance the quality of life and the well-being of individuals as we live longer, so that we remain integral, vibrant and contributing members of our communities. For more information, visit To follow on social media, visit Twitter (@Villagechi) and Facebook sites.


About The Retirement Research Foundation

The Retirement Research Foundation (RRF) is devoted to improving the quality of life for older people in America. RRF is one of the nation’s first private foundations devoted exclusively to aging and retirement issues.



Chicago Innovation

Kelly Wyman

Communications and Grant-writing Coordinator



Chicago Innovation

Avery Stone Fish

Program Manager of Ageless Innovators



The Village Chicago

Kathleen Kolodgy



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