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Press Release: Gary and Mary West Foundation Celebrates Decade of Grantmaking to Improve the Lives of Vulnerable Seniors

Foundation has granted $175 million in support of enabling successful aging for our nation’s seniors

SAN DIEGO – Nov. 10, 2016 – Today, the Gary and Mary West Foundation celebrates its 10-year anniversary, marking a decade of pioneering philanthropists Gary and Mary West’s ongoing efforts to help vulnerable seniors successfully age in place with dignity, independence and a better quality of life. Since 2006, the foundation has awarded more than 400 grants to 181 aging-related nonprofit organizations in San Diego, Omaha, Neb. and across the country, totaling more than $175 million, making it one of the nation’s leaders in philanthropy for seniors.

Following successful entrepreneurial careers, Gary and Mary West decided to dedicate their philanthropic efforts to make life better for vulnerable seniors. Based on their personal experience working with and caring for seniors, Gary and Mary know first-hand the challenges of aging and understand that most low-income seniors do not have the resources to do so successfully. Ten years ago, they founded the Gary and Mary West Foundation, a 501(c)(3) private, non-operating organization to provide much needed outcomes-based grants to support healthcare and social support services for vulnerable seniors who live at or below the federal poverty level. Through their efforts, the foundation has provided grants to nonprofits committed to making successful aging a reality for America’s seniors.

“Mary and I are very proud of the foundation and the difference it is making in the lives of seniors, especially those living on fixed incomes. Far too many seniors are forced to choose among basic human needs such as food, medicine and housing, and have difficulty navigating a complex health system that is simply not currently structured to meet their needs,” said Gary West, co-founder and co-chair of the Gary and Mary West Foundation. “Poor seniors deserve better solutions and our deep support. They desperately need it and we are going to make sure they receive it and are not forgotten.”

With more than 10,000 baby boomers a day turning 65 and people living longer than ever before, the need for improved healthcare delivery and social services for seniors has never been greater. Of 105,000 private foundations in the United States, only six are solely focused on aging, making the Gary and Mary West Foundation one of the key supporters of seniors.

“Gary and Mary’s passion for supporting the needs of seniors has been the driving force of our successful aging efforts. Nationwide, less than two percent of all philanthropic dollars are directed at our nation’s seniors – it is a travesty that such a small portion goes to helping our fastest growing age group,” said Shelley Lyford, president and CEO of the Gary and Mary West Foundation and West Health. “Seniors are our parents, grandparents, teachers, friends, neighbors and our veterans. They deserve our best thinking, our utmost respect and greater attention from our nation’s philanthropists.”


The foundation has a mission to enable seniors to successfully age in place, with access to high-quality, affordable health and support services that preserve and protect their dignity, quality of life and independence. Examples of the foundation’s major initiatives and grantees include:

  • The Gary and Mary West Health Institute (San Diego), a nonprofit applied medical research organization and the Gary and Mary West Health Policy Center (Washington, D.C.), a nonpartisan policy research and education organization, are focused on advancing successful aging by developing or advancing acute and chronic care models and supportive services designed specifically for seniors. The goal is to demonstrate and document the value and effectiveness of senior-specific care models to encourage their greater availability, adoption and access across the country.
  • The Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center (San Diego) is a nonprofit community dental center linking high-quality and affordable oral healthcare with a suite of nutrition, case management and wellness services offered at Serving Seniors’ flagship Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center in downtown San Diego, creating a one-of-a-kind, integrated community-based system of care for older adults. The West Senior Wellness Center is a unique community-based care model providing low-income seniors two meals a day and access to more than 25 nonprofit organizations and support services.
  • Challenge Center (San Diego) restores health, hope and lives through skilled physical therapy, specialized fitness and wellness programs to rehabilitate, increase independence and improve the quality of life of individuals with severe physical disabilities.
  • The Consumer Center for Health Education and Advocacy (San Diego) provides entitlement assistance to low-income seniors, including education and assistance with access to health insurance such as Medi-Cal and Medicare, as well as other assistance programs including supplemental security income, food stamps, utility assistance and in-home supportive services.
  • Meals-on-Wheels (San Diego and national) provides programs designed to specifically address food insecurity, declining health and social isolation, and helps to keep seniors at home and out of more costly healthcare settings.
  • Rebuilding Together Omaha (Omaha) operates several programs to serve older low-income homeowners with emergency repairs, home modifications and general maintenance.

To learn more about the foundation, please visit

About the Gary and Mary West Foundation and West Health

The Gary and Mary West Foundation is a private non-operating foundation solely funded by Gary and Mary West that is dedicated to helping make successful aging a reality for America’s seniors. The foundation, in collaboration with the Gary and Mary West Health Institute and Gary and Mary West Health Policy Center, is working together toward a singular West Health mission dedicated to enabling seniors to successfully age in place with access to high-quality, affordable health and support services that preserve and protect their dignity, quality of life and independence. The foundation, which accepts grant proposals by invitation only, is based in San Diego and is celebrating its 10-year anniversary in 2016. Learn more at