SALSA Initiative

Successfully Aging and Living in San Antonio (SALSA) is the Area Foundation's newest initiative to create a community where seniors thrive and are prized as vital citizens.

Using the collective impact model, we will engage key community partners who will drive the agenda, strategy and metrics for this initiative. We are committed to commissioning further in-depth research on the issue of senior welfare and providing leadership and support for the future success of this collaborative effort.

Please check this page continuously for future updates. For more information on this initiative, or to get involved, please contact, Michelle Lugalia-Hollon, 210.242.4775. 

Our vision

To create a stronger community where seniors thrive and are prized as vital citizens. 

Our goals

  • The San Antonio area has a comprehensive, efficient and effective system of services and programs, which helps seniors to thrive and has the capacity to scale over time to meet the needs of the growing senior population.
  • Vulnerable seniors will have access to essential services and benefits that meet their basic needs and promote their physical, mental and financial health and well being.
  • Seniors are able to maintain their independence and autonomy, avoiding premature or unnecessary institutionalization.
  • Seniors are more connected to and engaged with each other, their neighborhoods and community resources.

Download our Year 1 Report

Elders' Summit

In 2016, the San Antonio Area Foundation partnered with the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, University of Incarnate Word, CI: Now, Moriarty Consulting Group and SA2020 to bring together over 100 older adults from across the city. Together they imagined and shared what an age-friendly San Antonio could be. We intend to incorporate their voices into our SALSA initiative and ground our goals in their experiences. Read about their visions in the following report: 

Download the Elders' Summit Report

The Case for Change

Senior population is growing dramatically

The senior population in the San Antonio area is growing dramatically and vulnerable subgroups within it are falling through the cracks.

Currently, there are approximately 315,000 seniors (65 and older) across Bexar and surrounding counties. Two-thirds of this population lives in Bexar County. Bexar County is expecting dramatic growth in its senior population—almost doubling in size in the next 20 years, followed by similar growth rates through at least the year 2050.

Propelling this “silver tsunami” are not only aging local baby boomers with expanding life spans, but also the fact that San Antonio is becoming a desired retirement destination for veterans and others who enjoy its economic prosperity, low-cost of living, cultural amenities and warm climate.

Certain subgroups of seniors face particularly difficult hardships in aging while lacking access to needed resources. They include:

  • Seniors in poverty, especially Hispanic, African-American and immigrant seniors, who are statistically more likely to have low incomes.
  • Seniors age 85+, whose health and financial well being is most at peril.
  • Veteran seniors, who have retired and make up a significant proportion of “Military City USA” and whose health and mental needs may be more complicated due to their service.
  • Rural seniors, who are even more isolated and disconnected than their urban counterparts.

Seniors lack access to necessary services to age successfully

The following is a summary of the pressing needs of seniors in the San Antonio area that surfaced from the San Antonio Area Foundation's in-depth interviews and research.

  1. The medical issues of seniors--including chronic diseases, nutritional deficiencies and falls--are much greater in incidence and more severe than the general population’s.
  2. Seniors are particularly vulnerable to mental health problems—especially depression, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and suicide.
  3. Seniors need to get to medical appointments, stores and socials, but lack transportation to get there.
  4. While desiring financial independence, many seniors fear and face economic insecurity; and with spiraling medical costs and inadequate insurances, they run out of money.
  5. Seniors are targets and victims of elder abuse and fraud.
  6. Seniors need companionship. Social isolation hurts, and can lead to depression and safety risks.
  7. Seniors wish to “age in place,” but many lack adequate housing: low and fixed income seniors in particular struggle with mortgages/rents as well as home maintenance or needed modifications; and when not able to live at home, long-term care options can be cost-prohibitive.
  8. Seniors have caregivers who suffer from burnout-- they are overworked, over-stressed, and make great sacrifices—and they need greater levels of support and respite.  

These needs are not unique to San Antonio—they are problems of many American older adults—yet we found many gaps locally in responding to them:

  • We heard a dire need for more public awareness and education for seniors on how to prevent medical, mental and financial problems.
  • While some direct services do exist, too many seniors are unaware that help is out there or they do not access them due to cost, long wait times, lack of transportation, or lack of motivation or mobility.
  • In terms of isolation, there are also gaps in the provision of community engagement services and senior companionship programs as there are not enough volunteers.
  • Finally, both the public and political will to bring affordable housing options to seniors are beginning to surface in San Antonio.

System-level gaps in leadership, collaboration and funding

There are few organized efforts to draw attention to, to plan for, or to prepare for the impending stress on the systems of health and human services, housing and transportation due to the impending growth of the senior population in the San Antonio area. In almost every interview, we heard that there needs to be more system leadership, coordination and convening in this sector. Our research into philanthropic giving showed a significant funding gap as well: over the last decade, a small amount of funders have engaged in responsive grant making for senior welfare.

What is Collective Impact?

Collective Impact brings people together, in a structured way, to achieve sustainable social change.  First, community partners come together to collectively define the problem and create a shared vision to solve it.  Partners then agree on shared measurement -- how to track progress in the same way -- which allows for continuous improvement.  Based on the solutions identified, partners then align and coordinate their collective activities or programs so that they mutually reinforce each other and contribute towards realizing the shared vision. Throughout the process, partners communicate continuously, building trust and relationships among each other.  In order to be organized, there must be a team of staff dedicated to providing backbone support by coordinating, tracking and reporting the progress of the collective of partners.


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