Each year, social think tank Civic Ventures awards the Purpose Prize to individuals over 60 who are combining their passion and experience for social good. The only grant of its kind in the nation, the prize awards up to $100,000 each to five older adults that advocate for new ways to tackle tough social problems.
This year's winners - made up of entrepreneurs, advocates and philanthropists spread across the country from California to D.C - used their talents and unique perspectives to work towards addressing and remedying issues of importance to each of them.
After accepting more than 1,000 nominations from the public, a diverse group of 28 jurors-- including religious leader Bob Buford, former movie executive Sherry Lansing and Harvard Professor Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot--look for winners "who can inspire other boomers to leverage their experience and passion into big solutions for our most pressing social problems," said Alexandra Céspedes Kent, who directs the Purpose Prize program.
"People decide to pursue encore careers for a variety of reasons. Some face a set back or loss-- either financial or personal-- and decide to prioritize purpose and helping others; some are faced with an injustice they simply can't ignore; others decide a careful career transition might be best and they volunteer, go back to school, save or cut back on expenses, or carve out time to learn new skills or moonlight; of course, a few simply say they heard a calling and responded without looking back," Kent said.
Jenny Bowen, a 2011 Purpose Prize winner, was inspired by the adoption of her daughter to start a non-profit to help provide care and opportunity to other Chinese orphans. She now works directly with the country's government as a childcare advisor.
Winner Nancy Sanford Hughes was moved by the conditions endured by women in the developing world that have to spend their
days cooking over open-stoves to start a non-profit dedicated to bringing safer, fuel-efficient stoves into those communities.
She, like her fellow prizewinners, refused to bear witness to injustice - be it societal, economic or environmental - and sit idly by.
"All of them have an entrepreneurial spirit, knowing their most significant accomplishment is yet to come," Kent told The Huffington Post. "Whether they realize it or not, they are trailblazers, showing what's possible in an aging society when we leverage experience."
For their noble, brave and unfinished work, we salute them:
Jenny Bowen won the Purpose Prize for Intergenerational Innovation (sponsored by AARP) for her work with Chinese orphans through her non-profit "Half the Sky."
Charlton won for his work promoting entrepreneurship in struggling Detroit.
Hughes won for her work introducing fuel efficient stoves to communities in the developing world.
Kamau won for her work helping recent African Immigrants adjust to life in the United States.
Mazria won for his work advocating for energy-efficient designs in the field of architecture.
The Purpose Prize is a registered trademark of Civic Ventures. Copyright Civic Ventures. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.