Older woman reading to a child while a dog looks on
A resident of Pillars of Prospect Park reads to a child who participates in the child care program. (Photo courtesy of Pillars of Prospect Park)

College students and older adults interacting daily may seem out of place — but not at a senior living community in Minnesota. That’s because, at The Pillars of Prospect Park, they live together. 

The Pillars of Prospect Park, located in Minneapolis, is an uncommon senior living community that houses both older adults and college students while also providing child care.

Thursday, the community announced that it is expanding its student residence housing program by 50%. The program, which launched in 2022, allows college students to rent apartments within the community. In exchange, the students commit to interacting with senior residents and to participate in planned activities. 

Some of those activities have included leading an art class, music class or travel program, according to a Pillars of Prospect Park press release, and have been tailored around students’ interests. Students also engage with older adult residents during meals or social hours.

As a result of the program’s expansion, 15 students now will be able to rent apartments at the community. 

The Pillars of Prospect Park also offers child care. As a part of the community’s Pillars Child Care program, more than 100 children spend time engaging with residents, who are deemed “grandfriends.”

The community’s student housing and child care programs are part of the internationally recognized Intergenerational Connections program offered by Ebenezer Management Services, the state’s largest senior housing operator. Ebenezer operates five other intergenerational senior living communities, too.

“Through our signature cornerstone, Intergenerational Connections, people of all ages share their talents and resources, supporting each other in relationships that benefit both the individuals and the community,” Michelle Blankenship, corporate director of marketing and communications at Ebenezer, said in the press release. “Ebenezer is committed to fostering these relationships to help bridge generational gaps and enrich lives.”

Intergenerational programming provides numerous benefits, according to a 2017 study from Generations United and LeadingAge. Such benefits include increased feeling of worth, decreased isolation and a better understanding of issues facing other generations.