Aroha Philanthropies is now E.A. Michelson Philanthropy

Dear Friends,

After eight years, Aroha Philanthropies is changing its name to E.A. Michelson Philanthropy. While the Māori word “aroha” can convey ideas of selflessness, tolerance, kindness and compassion, which are values embedded in our founder’s philanthropic work, “aroha” is not a commonly known or used word in English. Going forward, we feel we need a name that better aligns with our identity as a small private foundation founded and led by Ellen A. Michelson.

The mission of E.A. Michelson Philanthropy will remain the same: Through funding and advocacy, we champion programs that break barriers, build community and spark creativity. We are proud to have made grants totaling more than $47 million since 2006, actively supporting nonprofit organizations across the United States through direct financial support, advocacy, partnerships, informal alliances, convenings, trainings and more – work that we will continue to do.

Our refreshed website includes a sneak preview of an exciting new creative aging initiative for art museums that will launch in spring 2022. Many of the images on our site showcase creative aging participants from our Vitality Arts grantees. To learn more about Vitality Arts programs, click here.


Ellen A. Michelson                              Teresa Bonner
Founder and President                      Executive Director

Creative Aging featured on AAM blog

A blog post written by the Smithsonian Associates, a Seeding Vitality Arts in Museums grantee, was recently featured on the American Alliance of MuseumsMuseums and Aging blog. Learn how they reimagined their music program for older adults during the pandemic by clicking here.

Talk About #CreativeAging

Aroha’s Executive Director, Teresa Bonner, has been busy with several speaking opportunities to share about the field of creative aging and its importance in combating social isolation. She discussed creative aging with our partners at the American Alliance of Museums and The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies at the Grantmakers in Aging conference in October, shared at the Engaging Ageing 21 conference sponsored by the Age-Friendly University Global Network at Dublin City University in early November and was recently featured on an episode of the This is Getting Old podcast. You can listen to the full episode here.

PrimeLife Arts Learning Launches Creative Aging Courses

We are proud to support PrimeLife Arts Learning and the launch of their new online creative aging courses for those 55 and better. Their website lists the current creative aging visual arts offerings. You can read more about the photography, poetry, jewelry-making and drama virtual creative aging classes offered by Next Avenue in partnership with PrimeLife Arts Learning by clicking the links above. If you're 55+ and interested in joining a class, register here.

New Grant Awards

We’re pleased to announce more than $700,000 in new grant awards by Aroha Philanthropies to the organizations listed below. You can also see the full list of our extraordinary grantees here.

Discovery Arts
East Side Arts Council
Northern Clay Center
Pillsbury House + Theatre
TU Dance

Humanity Arts
Mateo Lodge
People Incorporated

Vitality Arts
CommonBond Communities
National Guild for Community Arts Education
Twin Cities Public Television

Philanthropy Women Article

Philanthropy Women recently interviewed Aroha’s Teresa Bonner as part of their Feminist Giving IRL series. In the interview, Teresa tackles ageism, othering and ending broken systems. Click here to read the full interview.

AAM and NASAA Host Creative Aging Conferences

Two partner organizations recently hosted virtual creative aging conferences to advance creative aging across the United States:

The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) hosted a national Museum Summit on Creative Aging, a free, highly interactive virtual summit that provided museum professionals with inspiration, tools and connections to help them serve the growing and underserved population of people who are 55 and better. The half-day program included keynote discussions, interactive workshops and panels that include Seeding Vitality Arts in Museums grantees.

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) hosted a Creative Aging Institute for all state and jurisdictional arts agencies and regional arts organization staff and council members. The institute included case studies of creative aging programs from state arts agencies participating in NASAA's Leveraging State Investments in Creative Aging grant program and included communication strategies designed to move the needle on healthy aging policies.

Next Avenue Features Louisiana State Museum Program

The Louisiana State Museum, a Seeding Vitality Arts in Museums grantee, was recently featured in an article by Next Avenue. The article shares information on the online dance class offered at the museum this Spring titled "African dance in New Orleans." The free, six-week class was hosted by the Louisiana State Museum in conjunction with its exhibit, Mystery in Motion: African American Masking and Spirituality in Mardi Gras. Mystery in Motion honored Black masking Indians, also known as Mardi Gras Indians, and celebrated their sartorial creations. You can view the article here to read more about this incredible program.

Creative Aging Featured in Stanford Social Innovation Review

Stanford Social Innovation Review recently highlighted the impact of creative aging in an article written by Aroha’s Executive Director, Teresa Bonner. The article shares how arts programming specially designed to help older adults access and benefit from quality lifelong learning can foster connection with others and restore a sense of purpose and joy to their lives. You can read the full article here.

Remembering Michael Matthew Ferrell

Photo credit: Bethany Jackson, Twin Cities Headshots

Aroha mourns the passing of arts and aging leader Michael Matthew Ferrell. Michael made extraordinary contributions to the Twin Cities arts scene and was a pioneer of the creative aging movement. Michael’s outstanding commitment to older adults included his role as the Executive/Artistic Director and Founder of Alive & Kickin, the Twin Cities’ premier senior rock ensemble. Michael’s passion for fostering creativity in older adults, his ability to nurture and create community and his incredibly joyful spirit completely align with Aroha’s mission and we are proud to have supported Alive & Kickin. You can read more about Michael’s incredible life here.