Developing Empathy through the Power of Conversation

Providing opportunities for teens and older adults to connect in meaningful ways.


Sages & Seekers brings two marginalized age groups together to share their unique gifts through authentic conversation. Our intergenerational programs are designed to develop empathy and diminish social isolation and ageism, while meeting the universal and compelling need of both young adults and elders to find meaning and purpose in their lives. Among the youth who participate, we seek to promote their development of empathy and social-emotional skills while also enhancing their interviewing, listening, writing, conversation, and public-speaking competencies. Among the elders who participate, we seek to promote their sense of purpose and value as members of a community.

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In our technological world today, we are constantly communicating, yet we have sacrificed meaningful conversation for simple connection. But to grow, to empathize, to love, to fully understand and engage in the world around us, we must be in conversation. It is the most human and humanizing thing we do. Sages & Seekers’ evidence-based SEL programs provide essential life skills such as the ability to maintain eye contact, read facial cues, develop empathy, engage in meaningful conversations and reflect on life lessons,

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The University of Southern California has studied the Sages & Seekers 8-Week Program through two different grant opportunities. The first study was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2017, reporting the number one outcome of “a greater sense of purpose” for both the Sage and the Seeker. The second study in 2019 was funded by The Templeton Foundation, with quantitative findings showing increases in purpose-in-life and wisdom among participating adolescents. Participants also reported feeling more grateful and hopeful after the intervention.