The National Institute of Senior Centers, NCOA’s network of more than 2,500 senior centers, offers a framework of core standards across nine areas of operations. NISC has also developed a self-assessment process to guide senior centers as they engage with the standards. The standards and self-assessment process was previously offered only as part of the accreditation program. By discontinuing the Accreditation Program, NCOA can now make Building Excellence available to all senior centers and at no cost.  

These standards serve as a guide for all senior centers to improve their operations today—and  position themselves for the future.  Learn about the Standards of Excellence and the self-assessment process by requesting Building ExcellenceThis manual provides a wealth of information to review and strengthen key operations and programs at your center. NISC Affiliates can email us at, and we will send you a digital copy.

Why should your senior center engage in the Standards of Excellence?

Improve your organization

The Standards of Excellence provide a quality improvement process that strengthens your overall senior center operations. It results in official recognition that tells your community you are meeting your mission in a nationally accepted, professional fashion. 

Connect to the community

During the self-assessment process, you have an opportunity to engage stakeholders including staff, participants, governing bodies, business, and aging services partners, current and potential funders, and the community to come together. Together you will 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, senior centers have access to content and the support to get the inspiration and the information and guidance they need to develop a vision for the future. Through the self-assessment process, centers develop a written strategic plan, with broad community engagement, and develop the skills to measure and communicate their value to their community.  

Enhance your center’s image

The self-assessment process creates an opportunity to establish your senior center’s position as the center of expertise in aging in the community. You can use this process 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, leveraging NCOA's Standards of Excellence raises the bar for all of us. It legitimizes senior centers as professionally managed, relevant, and vital resources for older adults. 

Nationally accredited centers

From 1998 to 2023, NISC’s Building Excellence program included a peer review and accreditation process, successfully completed by almost 300 senior centers. These accredited centers established and set the standard for what senior centers can achieve: