On October 11-13, 2022, the Foundation for Social Connection (F4SC), with support from the Coalition to End Social Isolation & Loneliness (CESIL), hosted its annual End Social Isolation and Loneliness Action Forum. This international three-day event convened individuals to promote real evidence- and system-based change. It featured mental health advocates, key voices in research, academia, and philanthropy, and administration and state leaders. We invite you to keep reading to hear some reflections on the 2022 Action Forum from our team.

As I reflect on the incredible voices we heard during our 2022 Action Forum, I’m nothing if not inspired – and truly energized – by current efforts to end social isolation and loneliness and foster meaningful social connection. Over these three days, we heard from speakers ranging from the Surgeon General, Democratic and Republican congressional members, mayors, tech innovators, community advocates, youth activists, global leaders, and many more. I’m also reminded of how much extraordinary work there is to do, but I’m hopeful for the progress we will continue to make together as a diverse, bipartisan coalition. 

In that spirit, the Coalition and Foundation are again committing to action. First, we commit to completing the remaining SOCIAL Framework sector reports – Labor, Housing, Transportation, Nutrition, and Leisure. We will continue to produce these reports, make them available for public comment, and disseminate them broadly. We also commit to continuing to help local leaders and officials such as mayors, community members, local businesses, and more with toolkits and resources to help them deploy policy, systems, and environmental strategies to foster social connectedness. Finally, and with much excitement, we are thrilled to commit to hosting an in-person 2023 Action Forum! We will be announcing the location and dates for the event early next year, and can’t wait to see all of you there.

Andrew MacPherson, Founder and Board Chair

The Coalition to End Social Isolation and Loneliness

Reflecting on our 2022 Action Forum, I am truly amazed by the diversity of voices represented, personal experiences with social isolation and loneliness shared, progress in innovation and awareness we have achieved – but equally important – the meaningful connections we continue to develop with one another. Just as we strive to do with our SOCIAL Framework, our speakers showed their commitment to addressing social isolation and loneliness across the lifespan through a multitude of innovative solutions that prioritize inclusion, diversity, equity, and access. Emerging from these three days, I am even more grateful for the leaders that we at the Foundation are in community with and immensely hopeful for what progress lies ahead.

On behalf of the Foundation for Social Connection, we commit to further expand the award for community leadership in honor of our dear, late colleague Marcia Slater Johnston, which will allow change-makers to foster connection and build resilient, healthy  communities.  Through the Foundation’s Innovation Accelerator, we commit to catalyze evidence-based innovative solutions that particularly focus on places of belonging, including schools and workplaces. Finally, we commit to pilot-test social isolation and loneliness interventions in high-risk populations and geographies over the coming year and share those learnings widely. We have our work cut out for us, but we are up to the challenge!

Eddie Garcia, Founder and Board Chair

The Foundation for Social Connection

I loved hearing from the youth leaders at Beyond Differences, Ruth and Sofie. It brought me joy and inspiration to hear these incredible young minds discuss why they volunteer their time to make their school a better place – a place where all students can feel like they belong. Their commitment to this cause shines a light on the social connection benefits of volunteering, peer-to-peer support, and community coalition building. It was fitting to highlight this segment of the population along with the release of our Education Sector Report last month, which dives into the intersection of education and social connection.

It also filled my heart to see so many faces and names in the forum chat, sharing their work and how they are tackling loneliness and/or social isolation in their own way. These individual narratives keep me motivated to continue this work and commit to collaborate across disciplines, populations, nations, etc. Thank you for tuning in!

Jillian Racoosin, Deputy Executive Director

The Foundation for Social Connection

The Action Forum is our annual opportunity to showcase a diverse, collective voice from partners across the world who share the same goal: to create a more socially connected world. I was humbled and inspired by the diversity of voices we heard over these three days – and it is a true testament to the continued dedication and perseverance of so many who are facing the crisis of social isolation and loneliness head-on. Hearing the varied and diverse perspectives from thought leaders, change-makers, and advocates dedicated to connection across sectors and populations, motivates us at the Coalition to End Social Isolation and Loneliness and Foundation for Social Connection to continue to move the needle on this issue to help not only the most vulnerable, but all people to live more meaningfully connected lives.

Meg Wallace, Partnerships Manager

The Coalition to End Social Isolation and Loneliness

Goldie Hawn’s life hack to write three things that we are grateful for five times a day resonated with me because one of my closest friends is currently dealing with sadness and feelings of loneliness. I immediately text my friend this “life hack” for two reasons. 1) I wanted her to know that she is loved and that someone is thinking of her and 2) Doing that task for herself, if only a few times a day, can help improve her outlook on her situation right now. I believe that gratitude awakens the thanksgiving and appreciation of our circumstances that we may take for granted. Gratitude can become an afterthought because it is buried underneath all the noise society throws at us, particularly FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), feelings of anxiety or not being enough. I wanted my friend to know that she is not alone, and I am grateful that I was able to hear and share Goldie’s simple yet encouraging message.

Daneen Sekoni, Policy and Advocacy Lead

The Coalition to End Social Isolation and Loneliness

The sheer number of participants from around the globe, the expertise and candor of speakers, and the kindness of individuals exchanging hellos and information in the chat throughout the 3-day 2022 Action Forum was a true testament to the work my colleagues and others in the space are championing. The aim of the Action Forum is to urge individuals and organizations to commit to doing their part to end the social isolation and loneliness crisis, and each year it is inspiring to see how this message continues to grow and take form. Findings that revealed, “Gen Z desires to be the most connected,” as Eunice Lin Nichols of Encore.org shared during Day 1, confirmed what we know in our hearts to be true: Human beings have an innate urge to connect. In reflecting on this statement, and the overall value of meaningful social connection, I am motivated to keep doing my part!

Rachel Jordan, Communications Manager

The Coalition to End Social Isolation and Loneliness

During our Spotlight on Community Action, Katie Wade from Front Porch discussed how Indigenous Peoples approach community-building and connection, saying, “The circle is complete when an elder is present, an adult is present, and a child is present.” Hearing this on the last day of our Action Forum, the quote resonated with me because our event really did attract, spotlight, and honor people from across all generations – all with different experiences of social isolation, loneliness, and connection. So many of our speakers and attendees were engaged in work to help socially isolated and lonely older adults, many of whom become forgotten or ignored as they age. In our Lived Experiences session, Simone Heng recounted her story of social isolation and loneliness as a highly extroverted, busy person at the peak of her career. In our forum chat, we saw many attendees also identified with these experiences of social isolation and loneliness in adulthood. And lastly, we heard not only from organizations dedicated to helping youth who struggle with social isolation and loneliness but also from Gen Z activists themselves who have taken charge and become insightful, powerful leaders addressing this issue. Overall, seeing this complete circle and witnessing how we all show up for one another was incredibly inspiring and makes me hopeful for a more connected future.

Shannon Vyvijal, Social Connection Fellow

The Foundation for Social Connection

To view recordings of all Action Forum sessions and organizations’ 2022-2023 commitments to action, check out the Foundation for Social Connection website, linked here.