Purpose Prizes Honor Innovators
Civic Ventures announced winners of the 2011 Purpose Prizes today, awarding $100,000 each to five social entrepreneurs over 60 who founded projects to aid orphans, refugees, impoverished families, the unemployed and the environment.
"This year's Purpose Prize winners saw systemic problems -- like institutional care for orphans and global warming -- and used their experience to come up with big, systemic solutions," says Alexandra Céspedes Kent, who directs the Purpose Prize program. "Like so many other encore entrepreneurs, they want first and foremost to make a difference."
The encore careers movement's biggest awards of the year recognize trendsetters among the growing ranks of people trading in corporate jobs or traditional retirement to pursue meaningful work later in life.
Here are the 2011 Purpose Prize winners:
- Jenny Bowen, Berkeley, Calif., Half the Sky
- Nancy Hughes, Eugene, Ore., StoveTeam International
- Randal Charlton, Detroit, Mich., TechTown
- Wanjiru Kamau, Washington, D.C., African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation
- Edward Mazria, Santa Fe, N.M., Architecture 2030
Learn more about this year's winners in this SecondAct slide show.
Civic Ventures, a Bay Area nonprofit think tank that focuses on baby boomers, work and social purpose, began the annual awards in 2005.
In the world of encore careers, the Purpose Prize is the equivalent of the MacArthur Foundation "genius" grants, recognizing individuals considered to be game-changers and leading the way in what it means to give back. Civic Ventures' founder and CEO Marc Freedman is a widely recognized authority on encore careers for the nation's 78 million boomers, whom he's called "an untapped human resource" in society.
One in four Americans ages 44 to 70 is interested in starting a business or nonprofit in the next five to 10 years, according to a new study from Civic Ventures. Close to half (48 percent) of that number say they want to make a positive social impact as well as make a living, according to the report, which was based on online interviews of 400 people conducted for Civic Ventures by Penn Schoen Berland and funded by the MetLife Foundation.
"Like millions of other Americans reaching their 50s and 60s, Purpose Prize winners are making big decisions about how to find meaning and earn a living in their encore years," Kent says. "They are forging a new path built upon their accumulated experience, creativity and willingness to take calculated risks to solve big social problems."
Past Purpose Prize winners have been lauded for spearheading civic-minded efforts such as helping Ohio homeowners avoid foreclosures and replanting trees in war-torn Afghanistan.
When President Obama awarded 13 Presidential Citizens Medals on Oct. 20, the recipients included three 2009 Purpose Prize winners. One was Judith Broder, founder of The Soldiers Project, a nationwide nonprofit that provides free counseling to returning veterans and their families. The Presidential Citizens Medal is the nation's second-highest civilian honor. "They exemplify the best of what it means to be an American," the president said.
The New York Times recently profiled another 2009 Purpose Prize winner, Duncan Campbell, founder of Friends of the Children, a mentor program for at-risk children. Oprah Winfrey singled out two 2010 winners for leading by example in their encore careers: Margaret Gordon, an Oakland housekeeper and single mother who became an environmental activist, and Dana Freyer, a former corporate lawyer whose Global Partnership for Afghanistan has planted 9 million trees and provided work to 21,000 farmers. [See all 10 of the 2010 Purpose Prize winners in this SecondAct post.]
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