ADS Receives National Recognition for Innovation and Achievement

person with both arms extended up in victory, the left hand holding a first place medal, with a bright sky in the background

As you probably know by now, Aging and Disability Services (ADS), a division of the Seattle Human Services Department, is the Area Agency on Aging for Seattle and King County. As such, ADS is one of 13 Area Agencies on Aging in Washington state and one of more than 600 members of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a).

On July 20, ADS received two awards during n4a’s virtual national conference—one of them the top Innovation Award winner for 2021. The 2021 n4a Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards recognize AAAs and Title VI Native American Aging Programs that develop and implement cutting-edge approaches to support older adults, people with disabilities and their family caregivers. Among the selection criteria was the ease with which other agencies could replicate the program in their communities.

Unique Collaborative Funding Process recognized for innovation

The 2021 n4a Innovation and Achievement Awards were announced by n4a CEO Sandy Markwood.

The 2021 n4a Innovation and Achievement Awards were announced by n4a CEO Sandy Markwood.

Community Living Connections is the telephonic and local provider network that ADS funds to provide Seattle-King County residents with access to Aging Network services where and when they need it. We introduced AgeWise readers to Community Living Connections in 2015. We also let you know when Community Living Connections launched its Collaborative Funding Process in 2018. In 2019, we let you know how the process turned out in “Community Living Connections: Creating a New Way of Doing Business.” I think a major learning was this: Change isn’t easy, but it can result in something really great!

At the 2021 national conference, Collaborative Funding Process received one of 15 n4a Aging Innovations Awards—n4a’s highest award category. During the conference general session that followed, HSD/ADS was announced as the top Innovation Award winner for 2021 and the recipient of a $2,500 prize.

n4A screenshot

N4a published program descriptions in its 2021 Awards Book. Click on the image to view the entire publication.

Per the n4a media release, “With service gaps, no additional money to bring new providers on board and a need for an even stronger focus on meeting the Seattle Human Services Department, Aging and Disability Services’ (ADS) racial equity goals, ADS devised the Collaborative Funding Process. The Collaborative Funding Process is a new approach that enables community-based agencies to determine how they will collectively deliver services. Unlike a traditional funding process where the AAA or, in this agency’s case, a panel, makes funding recommendations, collaborative funding means agencies work together to decide funding allocations and service expectations. Over seven months, participating agencies met with a racial equity consultant as they identified funding and service delivery levels for each network provider agency.”

“The 2018–2019 Collaborative Funding Process resulted in over $3.7 million in 19 provider contracts that began in January 2020, including contracts with five new providers,” Mary Mitchell, interim Aging and Disability Services division director, added in a local media release. “Collaboration enabled the network to support new agencies serving LGBTQ and south Asian elders and African American caregivers without adding more money. The network also gained greater capacity to serve south county residents, where needs are greatest; offered improved access to transportation services; and improved network communication overall.”

Age Friendly Live recognized for outstanding achievement

You may be familiar with Age Friendly Live programs, which include Age Friendly Seattle’s popular Civic Coffee Hours and Close to Home, a series created last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders, as well as other events. Every issue of AgeWise includes links to upcoming Age Friendly Live programs (see the bottom of this page for a current example).

Age Friendly Live online events—whether one of programs in the two series or special webinars or conferences—are designed to reduce social isolation and increase opportunities for civic participation among older people. According to the Age Friendly Seattle 2020 Annual Report, more than 6,400 people participated in Age Friendly Live events or viewed them later on the ADS YouTube channel last year. Recent AgeWise articles about Age Friendly Live events include “Age Friendly Seattle Offers Virtual Events During COVID-19” (June 2020) and “Exciting Changes to ‘Age Friendly Live’ Virtual Events” (January 2021).

Age Friendly Live received one of 21 n4a Aging Achievement Awards on July 20. Earlier this year, Age Friendly Seattle received an American Society on Aging Award for Excellence in Multicultural Aging in recognition of their intentional outreach to immigrant elders. Learn more at “Age-Friendly Outreach to Immigrants Lands a National Award” (May 2021).

A record of achievements

ADS was honored to receive n4a Innovation & Achievement Awards in previous years, too, and that excellent work continues. For information just from the past three years, read “Chair’s Corner: A Shout-out to Aging Network Professionals” (in 2018, n4a recognized the Northwest Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Center, in which we participate), “Committed to Accessibility” (in 2019, n4a recognized Age Friendly Seattle’s Accessible Events and Meetings) and “City of Seattle’s Mobile Integrated Health Partnership Wins National Award” (in 2020, n4a recognized our partnership with Seattle Fire that includes Health One). In 2017, ADS won an n4a Achievement Award for its Senior Drug Education program, and in 2011, ADS won an n4a Innovations Award for its King County Care Partners, a Medicaid care management demonstration program operated in collaboration with local health care providers.

Congratulations and kudos to everyone on the ADS team, each of our Community Living Connections partners, our partners throughout City and County departments, and age-friendly advocates in the community. These successes speak volumes about the community in which we live!

Dick WooContributor Dick Woo chairs the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services. He welcomes input from readers via e-mail ( as well as applicants for open positions on the council. For more information, visit

This article originally appeared in the August 2021 issue of AgeWise King County.