Gilbert Awards 2017: Recipients

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The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation and Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) are pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Rosalinde Gilbert Innovations in Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiving Legacy Awards.

Each organization is awarded $20,000 for their program that addresses the needs Alzheimer’s disease caregivers in the following three areas: Creative Expression, Diverse/Multicultural Communities, and Policy and Advocacy. General information about the Awards program is available here.

The following award recipients were honored—and their programs presented—at a reception during the 2018 Aging in America Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, March 27, 2018.

Creative Expression


Jewish Family & Children’s Service
Waltham, Massachusetts

Percolator Memory Café Network


The Percolator Memory Café Network (“Percolator”) reduces social isolation and increases meaningful activity and creative expression among people living with dementia and their caregivers by scaling access to high quality memory cafés throughout Massachusetts. The Percolator has enabled dementia support providers to share knowledge and resources rather than competing, thereby making Massachusetts home to the largest number of memory cafés in the nation. Accomplishments include supporting the launch of over 70 new memory cafés, including two Spanish speaking cafés and 13 cafés designed to include people who have both dementia and a developmental disability. The teaching artists—who lead dance, singing, drumming, theater games, poetry writing, art making, and more—share their expertise among the cafés.

JF&CS opened the second memory café in Massachusetts in spring 2014. Guests immediately asked for more hours and locations. JF&CS responded by starting the Percolator to help other organizations launch cafés, a sustainable approach that would foster cafés to fit each unique neighborhood. The Percolator has grown to 418 participants; 62 teaching artists participate in the guest artist directory; over 2,500 caregivers and persons with dementia participate in a café activity annually. The Memory Café Toolkit (also in Spanish) has been downloaded over 450 times since its release in August 2016. New community sectors, including two libraries and several houses of worship, have used the Toolkit for help in starting their own café.

Diverse / Multicultural Communities

Florida State University Department of Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine
Tallahassee, Florida

ACTS 2 Project: African-American Alzheimer’s Caregiver Training and Support


The ACTS 2 Project meets the needs of distressed African American caregivers of older adults with dementia. The Florida-based program provides culturally-sensitive, no-fee, skills-training and support (also known as cognitive-behavioral intervention) to dementia caregivers over toll-free telephone. The project also conducts a robust outreach effort to raise awareness about dementia through community presentations (reaching 4,000 annually) while also giving telephone consultations and community referrals.  
Research has found many African American adults do not participate in social service programs outside their culture and community. In addition, financial challenges and limited transportation options to get to appointments prevent caregivers from accessing help. To overcome these barriers, ACTS 2 has successfully trained 17 faith community workers (lay pastoral care facilitators) to deliver faith-based, skills-building and support sessions (a 12-part series ranging from relaxation training integrated with prayer and meditation to problem-solving through goal setting). Over 50 family caregivers enroll in the program each year. Caregivers report improvements in emotional functioning, caregiving skills, and self-care, stating that the ACTS 2 groups led to:

  • significant relief in depression.
  • significant improvement of caregiving problems.
  • strong bond between caregivers and lay facilitators who offer on-going support.

One participant said, “The responsibility of caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s was very scary for me. I was a wife, mother of two children, and working full-time when I became responsible for the daily needs of my mother with Alzheimer’s. ACTS 2 allowed me to communicate, from the comfort of my own home, with other caregivers experiencing many of the same situations, feelings, and challenges. The telephone counseling sessions were conveniently conducted around my busy schedule and focused on dealing with difficult behaviors. This helped me to keep close to, and respect the dignity of, my dear mother. ACTS 2 was truly a blessing!”

Policy and Advocacy

ARTZ Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

ARTZ @ Jeff: An Arts and Dementia Mentoring Initiative



ARTZ @ Jeff is a collaboration initiated by ARTZ Philadelphia with Thomas Jefferson University’s medical and health professions schools. ARTZ @ Jeff is a first-of-its kind program, interweaving individuals living with dementia, their family caregivers, and health professions students through arts-based interactions. Due to the symptoms associated with dementia—memory loss, difficulty communicating, and confusion—patients often become voiceless and marginalized by society, specifically in health care settings. ARTZ @ Jeff works to reverse the traditional provider-patient hierarchy and enlists people with dementia as the teachers and mentors to health professions students, teaching them empathy and the “real” story about living with dementia .  

The program pairs students with mentors (those living with a dementia-related disease and/or caregivers) for six to eight weeks. Together they participate in conversations about art, using these initial encounters with each other to spur more intimate discussions about life and living with dementia. Most mentors return to mentor a second or third time, saying the work gives them a sense of purpose and offers a meaningful avenue to help improve the healthcare experience for others living with dementia. Many of the students reflect on the strong positive influence the mentor/mentee relationship offers them. Mentors’ and students’ responses to the program are documented in a series of YouTube videos. The arts advocacy program and medical school collaborators recently secured a significant grant from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. The newly funded project draws on ARTZ Philadelphia’s high quality arts and dementia programming while also building on Jefferson’s nationally recognized humanities curriculum and creating a new arts-based collaboration with another Philadelphia organization, Theater of Witness; but it stays true to its core emphasis on the power of the mentor/student interactions.

“The focus on the program’s mentor-student relationship is completely unique in this context of arts-centered engagement, growing into an extended relationship between health professionals and people living with dementia over time,” said Susan Shifrin, founding director of ARTZ @ Jeff. For students, the program serves as an “inoculation” against the future loss of empathy that sometimes occurs when they enter the clinical setting.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018