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Michael Eisner, Former Walt Disney CEO, Establishes Intergenerational Prize Benefiting Boomers And Seniors

Michael Eisner

By JOHN ROGERS   10/10/11 07:53 PM ET   AP

LOS ANGELES -- He made a small fortune – and then some – crafting entertainment that baby boomers couldn't get enough of. Now that the audience is getting old, former Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner is giving some of that money back to them.

The Eisner Foundation has established the annual Eisner Prize for Intergenerational Excellence that includes a $100,000 cash award to the individual or non-profit organization it decides is doing the best work to help senior citizens and young people help each other.

The first recipient, the Intergenerational Center at Temple University, offers a variety of programs from its base in Philadelphia to communities ranging from rural Minnesota to Southern California.

The organization's founder, Nancy Henkin, will receive the award from Eisner on Oct. 27 at the Grantmakers in Aging conference in McLean, Va.

Eisner's foundation, which allocates about $7.5 million each year, was created by the former Mouse House executive and his family 15 years ago to benefit children in Los Angeles County.

But over the years, Eisner said, it was noticed that seniors, with ranks swelled by aging baby boomers, were often at the same risk as disadvantaged children of being ignored by society.

"The bubble growing in seniors in this country, the kind of siloing of them, ghettoizing of them, the lack of financial support from all sectors, including the government, makes this issue almost a crisis issue," Eisner told The Associated Press.

It was that aging baby boomer population that helped Eisner, 69, amass his fortune while running The Walt Disney Co. from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s.

"It's kept me in good stead," he said. "I made entertainment I wanted to see, and luckily there were a lot of people like me around."

His family foundation currently has assets of $135 million.

"It's a question of what do we want to do as a society," Eisner said. "Do we want to warehouse older Americans and wait for them to become a burden or do we want to use them as a resource to inspire and educate younger people?"

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Filed by Curtis M. Wong  |