Key Takeaways

  • Learn more about the standards that NCOA's National Institute of Senior Centers developed to improve their senior center operations today—and position themselves for the future.

NCOA’s National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC) offers the nation’s only National Senior Center Accreditation Program. To advance the quality of senior centers nationwide, NISC developed the program with nine standards of excellence for senior center operations. These standards serve as a guide for all senior centers to improve their operations today—and position themselves for the future. Read the introduction to our Standards & Accreditation manual for more insights on what it takes to achieve accreditation. NOTE: This is not the full manual for accreditation. NISC members can download the manual from NISC Crossroads.

Steps to Beginning Accreditation

  1. Make sure your center has a NISC membership, and join NISC if it doesn't.
  2. Download the Building Excellence: National Senior Center Standards and Accreditation Manual from NISC Crossroads by going to the Members Library. Only primary membership contacts (the individual noted on membership invoices) can download the manual. Please contact if you have any issues with downloading the manual.
  3. Submit an Intent to Self-Assess form, which can be filled out online or found in the Building Excellence manual. Note: A $500 deposit is due upon submission of this form.  
  4. Consult the Building Excellence Manual to begin the Self-Assessment Process, and email if you have any questions!

List of Nationally Accredited Centers

More than 200 senior centers have been accredited, and many more are in the process. Use the resources below to learn more about these centers:

Why Should Your Senior Center Accredited?

Improve your organization

The accreditation process improves and strengthens overall senior center operations. It results in official recognition that a senior center is meeting its mission in a nationally accepted, professional fashion.

Connect to the community

During the self-assessment process, staff, participants, board members, aging service agency representatives, and the community come together to look at the senior center and compare it to the standards that have been established by NISC. Together, the center and the community identify strengths and areas that need improvement and develop a strategy. Many centers report that this has led to funding opportunities, new collaborative partners, and an increase in programs or participation.

Develop a plan for the future

Throughout the process, centers have access to a specially designated accreditation hotline to get the information and guidance they need to develop a vision for the future. They are provided with a written strategic plan, and receive technical assistance in determining outcome measurements to improve overall senior center operations.

Enhance your center’s image

Accreditation creates an opportunity to establish your senior center’s position as a leader in positive aging. You can use this national recognition strategically to heighten awareness of the importance of your center and showcase your excellence to funders, participants, families, and other key people in your community. Collectively, accreditation raises the bar for all of us. It legitimizes senior centers as professionally managed, relevant, and vital resources for older adults.

What senior centers are saying ...

The most rewarding benefit of accreditation is the process and an action plan for achieving a bright future.
Christine Beatty, Madison, WI
It portrays the senior center in a positive light in terms of being a viable, fundable, and qualified provider of services within the community.
Dr. A. Eugene Smiley, NISC past-chair
I love being able to say that we are nationally accredited and first in the state. Our organization’s accountability and quality of services was proven.
Pat Branson, Executive Director, Senior Citizens of Kodiak, Inc.


Contact the NISC Accreditation Office at 1-800-373-4906 or