3 MN Co. Foundations Give Grants for PBS 50+ Website

Foundations run by General Mills, Medtronic, and Land O'Lakes collectively granted PBS $1.7 million to develop a website centered around the aging Baby Boomers.

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) said Tuesday that it launched a new website called Next Avenue that's geared toward the booming 50-plus age group-and three local company foundations granted funds for its development.

Next Avenue-conceived and developed by Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., (TPT) in St. Paul-has received more than $6 million for its development, including grants of $1 million from the General Mills Foundation, $500,000 from the Medtronic Foundation, and $200,000 from the Land O'Lakes Foundation.

The website targets the growing demographic that has surpassed young adulthood but hasn't yet become elderly. The 50-plus population in America has grown from 74 million people in 1999 to more than 99 million today, and it's projected to grow to 127 million by 2030. According to PBS, the growth can be attributed to both the size of the Baby Boomer population and the increase in average lifespan, which today tops 80 years.

Next Avenue aims to engage and inform these middle-aged citizens, and its tagline is “where grown-ups keep growing.”

PBS said that it hopes to make the website a daily stop that will help members of the 50-plus population plan for their “bonus years.”

“We are literally seeing a new life stage emerge in America, and like with any transition, people need trustworthy information and perspective to plan for and navigate it,” TPT President and CEO Jim Pagliarini said in a statement. “This initiative will help those of us in our 50-plus years shape the most meaningful and vibrant life possible.”

Categories that Next Avenue covers include health, finances, work, leisure, and caregiving, as they apply to a later stage in life. Content for the site will be compiled by numerous broadcast and print journalists, as well as experts in various fields.

A recent Star Tribune report questioned whether Next Avenue duplicates resources already offered by the AARP, and Next Avenue President Judy Diaz responded by saying: “They're a membership and advocacy organization. We're media, and media is where people turn when they're going through massive transition.”

According to the Star Tribune, the idea for Next Avenue came out of a combination of professional and personal experiences that Pagliarini had in the mid-2000s. First, a TPT-produced Alzheimer's documentary got him thinking about the age boom.

“I was also going through caregiving issues with my own parents, and in my mid-50s, and I wondered: What will my next 30 years be like?” he told the Minneapolis newspaper.