About History

About GHDC

History & Timeline

Grounded in research

Brenda Krause Eheart, a University of Illinois professor of sociology, together with her colleague Martha Bauman Power, spent much of the 1980s researching what happened to “unadoptable” children and adolescents who spend their entire youth being bounced from one foster home to another.

Eheart and Power found that adopting parents were often not equipped to deal with such deeply troubled or chronically ill young people. It wasn’t because these families didn’t want to do the right thing, but they lacked the necessary knowledge and support to succeed.

A different angle

For nearly two years, Eheart and a group of like-minded friends developed a vision for an entire community built around these children. Their dream was to create a place where ‘unadoptable’ children would be adopted by caring parents who would themselves be supported by a small staff, as well as backup adult guardians to provide relief from the stress of dealing with extremely troubled or ill children.

Their research was the driving force behind Generations of Hope (a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation) and Hope Meadows, its first program site, which opened in 1994. Hope’s mission is deceptively simple: to create a diverse intergenerational neighborhood to support families of adopted foster children. In direct contrast with traditional foster-care programs, Generations of Hope has created a place where adoptive families can get the support and information they need, children can finally find a place to call home, and elders find real purpose and meaning in their everyday lives.

A new departure for social services

Hope Meadows was the first example of what we now refer to as an “intentional neighboring” initiative. This approach puts into action the belief that ordinary people of all ages and abilities can be assets in addressing the difficult challenges facing various vulnerable groups. It is specifically designed to bring people together to form bonds of friendship and, over time, a culture of neighborliness — of kindness, helpfulness, generosity, and consideration.


In 2006, with support from The W. K. Kellogg Foundation, Generations of Hope began working to accelerate the nationwide development of neighborhoods based on the intentional neighboring concept. In addition to the challenge of supporting families who adopt children from the foster care system, the model is being adapted to other groups such as Wounded Warriors, vulnerable young mothers and their children, and adults with developmental disabilities.

Our vision is to enhance the lives of vulnerable populations by tapping the transformative power of intergenerational community living. We do not fund or build new communities. Instead, we encourage the widespread adoption of innovative models of intergenerational living through an open exchange of ideas, and the adaptation and replication of intentional neighboring.


1982 Research by Dr. Brenda Krause Eheart and Dr. Martha Bauman Power begins that leads to the conceptualization of Hope Meadows, the first Generations of Hope Community.
1994 Hope Meadows is established by Generations of Hope with a million dollar grant from the Illinois legislature to support families adopting children from foster care.
1995 Eheart begins eleven years as CEO and Executive Director of Hope Meadows.
1996 Chicago Tribune publishes the first national front-page news story on Hope Meadows, followed two months later by a front-page story in The New York Times.
2006 The W. K. Kellogg Foundation provides support to begin planning for national expansion of the intentional neighboring model. Treehouse Foundation establishes the first new community inspired by Hope Meadows in Easthampton, MA.
2009 In collaboration with McKinsey & Company, Generations of Hope begins strategic planning and extends the model to diverse vulnerable populations.
2011 Bridge Meadows opens in Portland, OR, becoming the fourth Hope Meadows-inspired community. Generations of Hope continues to work with a growing list of emerging new local initiatives.
2014 Model is extended to several new “vulnerable populations” including Wounded Warriors and survivor families, older youth with developmental differences, and older youth with autism.
2015 Genesis opens in Washington, DC, with 27 affordable apartments for seniors, for young families transitioning out of foster care, and for other families.
2016 Tom Berkshire, former Chief of Staff of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, is appointed President and Executive Director of Generations of Hope, upon the retirement of Brenda Krause Eheart.