New York City must act now to care for older adults and all New Yorkers as we age.

One in five New Yorkers is over 65 years old, the fastest-growing age group in the city, and the population is only expected to boom. However, many older adults are facing their golden years with little support. A long history of housing segregation and disinvestment has left older adults with few options for dignified, affordable, and accessible housing.

In 2022, the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development released Housing Our Neighbors: A Blueprint for Housing and Homelessness, identifying older adult housing as an urgent priority. Last year, City Council passed #AgeInPlaceNYC, expanding the rights and improving the lives of older New Yorkers. With these priorities to guide us, we must do more to create affordable and accessible housing opportunities that allow older adults to experience stronger social connections, greater independence and autonomy, and better health benefits. We also need to design spaces, policies and programs that equip older adults to move accessibly through the city, build multigenerational connections, and navigate the climate crisis.

How can we reimagine housing for older adults that facilitates stronger communities? And how can we creatively design and program other spaces to provide holistic care and support the agency of older adults?

We invite you to join the 2024 Forefront Fellowship, Lifelong, to imagine a New York City where older adults can thrive with support and dignity.

How to Apply

Apply Now

Applications are now open for the 2024-25 Forefront Fellowship!

Apply here through Monday, July 15, 2024 at 11:59pm

Apply Now

Join the Information Session

Interested applicants are welcome to attend our information session:

June 27, 2024

12:00 – 1:00 pm ET

Attend the Information Session


Phase I: City Agency Partnership

Fellows will partner with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to develop recommendations that support aging in place at HPD-funded developments. They will also investigate design and programming best practices that support aging in place citywide. 

Over three months, Fellows will gather every two weeks for daylong workshops to conduct site visits across the five boroughs; interview policymakers, developers, service providers and care workers; engage directly with older adults; and analyze research findings.

  • Fellows will produce case studies that synthesize best practices, areas for improvement and qualitative data.
  • Fellows will develop design and programming recommendations for HPD, other city agencies and nongovernmental partners that advance principles for successful aging in place.

Phase II: Independent Team Projects

Fellows will transition to working in independent, interdisciplinary teams to explore how New York City can foster spaces of multigenerational care and wellness for all, particularly for older adults. Teams explore local solutions to systemic issues, producing culminating projects that envision a better city for New Yorkers as we age.

Over six months, teams will conduct community-engaged research and interview stakeholders, lead an evening event and develop creative, change-making projects.

  • Fellows will develop original projects ranging from educational exhibits to place-based pilot programs to creative policy briefs. Fellows are encouraged to partner with a community-based organization for their project.
  • Teams will showcase their projects at a capstone event, an evening celebration for teams to present their work and galvanize continued partnership from stakeholders and invited guests.

Who Should Apply

Interests & Experience

Forefront Fellows are architects, landscape architects, advocates, planners, engineers, developers, public officials, technologists, data scientists, lawyers, scholars and journalists. Fellows are typically mid-career professionals with five to ten years of working experience.

This year, we welcome candidates with an interest in older adult advocacy, public health and community engagement. We particularly encourage candidates with expertise in housing design and programming, caregiving, health promotion, policy, community planning, qualitative research or data analysis. We also highly encourage multilingual candidates to apply, particularly those with fluency in Spanish, Chinese and Russian.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Forefront seeks to promote the achievements of traditionally underrepresented groups in planning and design. Women and gender-expansive people, people of color, LGBTQIA2S+ people, people with disabilities, and professionals with experience in diverse community settings are strongly encouraged to apply.

Additional Criteria

Fellows must live or work in the five boroughs of New York City for the duration of the Fellowship to be considered.

About Forefront

Forefront is an annual leadership development fellowship dedicated to cultivating emerging leaders in urban design, development, policy and advocacy.

Each year, an interdisciplinary cohort of 25 Forefront Fellows investigates how design can address a social or political challenge facing New York City. Over the course of 10 months, Fellows explore wide-ranging approaches to the program topic in partnership with a city agency and through independent projects. Fellows build new skills and knowledge, expand their professional community and develop meaningful projects with impact beyond the fellowship.

Forefront is grounded in an equity-based approach to urban design, which shapes the composition of each cohort, the selection of the program theme and the program’s ethos.


We are pleased to partner with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development for the first phase of the Forefront Fellowship.

Support Our Work

Forefront is supported by the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation. This program is also supported by our Board of Directors, Director’s Circle, and company and individual members. Our programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

To learn more about supporting Lifelong, please contact Miranda Bellizia, miranda@urbandesignforum.org.