Key Takeaways

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

  • The standards, self-assessment, and material submission are all online, with digital files and an online submission portal.

  • It is free and easy to become a NISC Affiliate.

NCOA’s National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC) offers the nation’s only National Senior Center Standards of Excellence Program. To advance the quality of senior centers nationwide, NISC developed the Standards of Excellence across nine areas of senior center operations and provides a self-assessment process.

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 Accreditation 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: