Exhale Memory Café Collective

The Exhale Memory Café Collective, funded by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and Health Foundation for Western and Central New York, is an opportunity for greater Buffalo-area arts and culture organizations to learn about memory cafés and receive financial support to launch a memory café in their communities. In a 27-month program (October 2023-December 2025), the Collective will provide training and support for participating organizations to plan, implement, and sustain vibrant and successful memory cafés. The Exhale Memory Café Collective will begin with a nine-month Discovery Phase culminating in a grant application opportunity, followed by an 18-month Implementation Phase for invited grantee partners.

The Exhale Memory Café Collective is a program of Exhale – The Family Caregiver Initiative.

What is a memory café?

A memory café is a gathering place offering social support and connection, socialization opportunities, better health, and wellbeing to older adult participants and their caregivers in a welcoming environment. Occurring in a wide range of settings with a wide range of programming, memory cafés provide essential support to caregivers and their loved ones. Cafés have been shown to be particularly helpful for those living with memory loss and other cognitive challenges. Cafés focus not on illness but on engagement in activities to improve memory and brain health, keeping older adult attendees mentally and socially active while at the same time providing a positive, supportive, bonding, and rejuvenating experience for caregivers of all ages. Memory cafés also provide caregivers with information, resources, referrals, and a network of support. Memory cafés are expanding across the United States, mirroring the dramatic increase in Americans who have or are expected to have Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in the coming years.

Program Information

Project Team

  • The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI) – program management and direction and grants management
  • Beth Soltzberg, Director, National Memory Cafe Percolator Network – expert training and technical assistance on memory cafés
  • Crowley Webb – communications, survey design, and administration
  • Teresa Lawrence, International Deliverables, Inc. – training in creative problem solving
  • West Falls Center for the Arts, I’m Still Here Foundation, and TimeSlips – memory café technical assistance providers
  • New York Academy of Medicine – evaluation team

Discovery Phase

Intended as a low-risk, low-commitment learning opportunity, the Discovery Phase (October 2023-July 2024) is an opportunity for participants to learn about memory café operations, explore potential partnerships with other organizations to enhance café offerings, and decide if becoming a memory café operator makes sense for their organization. At the end of the Discovery Phase, participating organizations will be eligible to apply for memory café grant funding. Participants who attend at least four workshops will also be eligible for a one-per-organization stipend of $1,000.

Caregiver Survey

Administered by Crowley Webb, a caregiver survey will provide participating organizations with direct input from their caregiver and older adult constituents on memory café programming preferences, scheduling and logistical needs, and other interests that could help inform memory café design, planning, partnership formation, programming, and operations. The caregiver survey will function both as a data gathering tool and outreach mechanism for participating organizations.

Aggregate survey findings will be shared at Workshop #1 in January 2024 (described below). Following the survey, interviews will be conducted with caregivers from each organization’s contact list. The goal of the caregiver survey and interviews is to help inform participating organizations’ memory café planning and design efforts.

Training Workshop Series

Through the five workshops detailed below, the Collective will offer training in memory café operations, including how to plan, budget for, and implement a memory café.

Workshop #1

January 26, 2024 | 1:00-4:30pm | In person in Buffalo, NY
Participants will meet one another and the Collective project team; review program goals, timeline, and key activities; discuss results of the caregiver survey; and learn about memory café basics, best practices, budgeting strategies, and resources for getting started from Beth Soltzberg, a national memory café expert.

Workshop #2

February 26, 2024 | 9:00am-12:00pm | Virtual by Zoom
Participants will receive training from the Alzheimer’s Association of WNY on understanding dementia and working with persons with Alzheimer’s and dementia; continued training on memory café operations from Beth Soltzberg; and an overview of the grant application process and timeline (grant applications will be due in June 2024).

Workshop #3

April 3, 2024 | 9:00am-12:00pm | Virtual by Zoom
Beth Soltzberg will continue building organizational capacity for memory café implementation, including in volunteer recruitment and deployment. In addition, representatives from West Falls Center for the Arts, I’m Still Here Foundation, and TimeSlips will explain their memory café models/approaches and how they support organizations interested in adopting their approach.

Workshop #4

April 22, 2024 | 12:00-3:00pm | Virtual by ZOOM
Teresa Lawrence will provide an overview of creative problem solving and its potential applications in the Collective. Insights on future café funding sources and potential sustainability strategies for memory cafés will also be discussed.

Workshop #5

May 16, 2024 | 1:00-4:30pm | In person in Buffalo, NY
Participants will have the opportunity to work on their grant applications with real-time technical assistance and support from Beth Soltzberg, TPI, Teresa Lawrence, and other technical assistance providers (as requested).

Discovery Phase Workshop Series Resources

Memory Cafe Workshop #1 – January 26, 2024

Memory Cafe Workshop #2 – February 26, 2024

Memory Cafe Workshop #3 – April 3, 2024

Memory Cafe Workshop #4 – April 22, 2024

Memory Cafe Workshop #5 – May 15, 2024

Additional Resources

Implementation Phase

Discovery Phase participants selected through the application process will be invited to join an 18-month Implementation Phase from July 2024-December 2025. During this phase, invited partners will receive grant funding, have access to ongoing technical assistance from the project team, and participate in a peer learning community that will meet three times. Grantee partners will be asked to participate in a Collective network evaluation conducted by the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM).