The John A. Hartford Foundation (JAHF) created the Centers of Excellence in Geriatric Medicine and Geriatric Psychiatry in 1988 with the goal of establishing academic training environments to increase geriatrics-trained faculty. The initiative identified medical schools with the necessary components for training academic geriatricians. JAHF grants provided the resources to create a cadre of physicians whose research, teaching and practice leads to substantial contributions in geriatrics. Results from two evaluations show that the program has successfully increased geriatrics-prepared faculty who have achieved promotion and institutional retention, success in winning competitive research grants, and positions of leadership. The initiative strengthened the national network of geriatrics programs and served as a major driver of increased prestige for the fields of geriatric medicine and psychiatry.