Lead the Way with Innovation

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CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions is a nonprofit committed to serving the needs of older adults, people with disabilities and family caregivers. We are working to build a healthier, flourishing community for all, with the help of our supporters. This blog is part of a four-part series highlighting each of the CICOA Foundation’s strategic initiatives to support our mission.

Wrinkle (NOUN): a slight line or fold in something, especially fabric or skin; a clever innovation; a different or unexpected development, action or idea.

The global market for “anti-wrinkle” skin care products is on the rise. Projected to grow from $191.5 billion in 2019 to $421.4 billion by 2030, the U.S. population of aging baby boomers is the leading driver for this market, although Generation X is the largest consumer of anti-aging products, according to psmarketresearch.com.

To avoid being considered ageist, the industry has rebranded itself from “anti-aging” to “pro-skin,” but the metamessage remains the same: Wrinkles are bad.

Today, I am advocating for wrinkles.

Wrinkle Innovation

Wrinkle Innovation, formerly CICOA’s Venture Studio, was founded in 2019 by the CICOA Foundation. That year, two CICOA employees, Chad Bales and Jonathan Haag, brainstormed how to connect vulnerable clients with needed home healthcare services in a more timely, efficient manner.

CICOA had a list of more than 700 care providers at the time, and it was not unusual for care managers  to spend hours or days on the phone to find providers with the capacity to fill client service plan needs for in-home care, aides to help with bathing or other personal care tasks, or specialized nursing care for a child with disabilities.

They knew the solution was technology.

Strategic initiatives to guide the way forward

The CICOA Foundation recently launched four strategic initiatives to serve as pillars for our philanthropic efforts. The four initiatives to guide us forward are:


Lead the Way with Innovation


Strengthen the Safety Net

How does CICOA lead the way with innovation?

As Bales and Haag worked on a prototype for their web app, they realized this was an opportunity not just for CICOA, but also for other organizations that connect clients or patients with home healthcare. A new company and award-winning software solution were built: Duett. In 2021, Duett received an Aging Achievement Award from USAging.

Duett also became the catalyst for nurturing a culture of innovation at CICOA. Haag, now CICOA’s vice president of strategy and innovation, works alongside colleagues and partners to stimulate continual process improvement and test whether other ideas might develop into new business ventures.

In 2022, CICOA launched Postbook, an intergenerational postcard exchange and keepsake journal designed to kindle connections and reduce loneliness for seniors.

This year, we’ll be launching two more companies from staff-generated ideas, as well as an online resource tool for caregivers in collaboration with Joy’s House.

Innovation and philanthropy combine for social impact

In today’s era of unpredictable funding, public policy changes and inflation, diversifying CICOA’s revenue with innovation and venture philanthropy is critical. That’s why we are looking for investors to help us bring innovative solutions to market that improve quality of life for vulnerable older adults, people with disabilities and their caregivers, while also building sustainability for CICOA and Indiana’s economy.

You can, in a very real way, make your own wrinkles! You can make a difference! Your support would allow us to accomplish innovation and bring social impacting wrinkles to life! All you need to do is start giving to Innovation at CICOA and watch your gift flourish in the lives of so many deserving people over and over and over!

Want to make some wrinkles with us?


Give to Innovation at CICOA

Stephen Gerber
Stephen Gerber

Stephen Gerber brings experience in pastoral ministry, nonprofit management and fundraising team leadership to his role as CICOA’s chief development officer. Stephen is responsible for the agency’s overall fundraising strategy, leading annual campaigns, major gifts, planned giving, grants and special events.

He holds designations for Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® (CAP®), and the executive certificate in religious fundraising. Stephen earned a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Temple University, a master’s degree from Grace Theological Seminary and a master’s in business administration from the University of Phoenix.

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