The Purpose Prize 10 years

Recent decades have witnessed an explosion of social entrepreneurship and innovation, as passionate change-makers tackle the world’s most urgent problems. Traditionally, the field was viewed as primarily—if not exclusively—the province of the young. The Purpose Prize was created to rectify this imbalance, to demonstrate that older people comprise an undiscovered, and still largely untapped, continent of solutions to an array of pressing societal challenges.

The verdict is now in. Over the past 10 years, we’ve received nearly 10,000 Purpose Prize nominations, recognized more than 500 people, including just under 100 winners and hundreds of fellows, and awarded over $5 million in prizes to social entrepreneurs working in fields ranging from early childhood learning to eradicating homelessness. We set out to tell a story about creativity and innovation in the second half of life and the work of the Purpose Prize winners and fellows have done so in ways exceeding our wildest dreams.

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Timeline

  • 2005

    Sep, Encore.org launches The Purpose Prize. Encore.org Logo no Tagline

  • 2006

    Oct, Bill Clinton sends video greeting to Purpose Prize ceremony. 2_247066567_aed38577a9_o-300x200

  • 2007

    Nov, Sidney Poitier presents Purpose Prize awards. Sidney_Poitier-NPS.crop

  • 2008

    Nov, First Purpose Prize awarded for international work. earth26

  • Oct, NPR compares Purpose Prize to MacArthur genius awards. 6_npr-logo

  • 2010

    Nov, 5th Anniversary of Purpose Prize at National Constitution Center. 320px-National_Constitution_Center-exterior

  • 2011

    Oct, Three Purpose Prize winners receive Presidential Citizens Medal. 10_Presidential_Citizens_Medal

  • Nov, AARP sponsors first Purpose Prize for Intergenerational Innovation. liftarn-Adult-and-child-300px

  • Nov, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor keynotes Purpose Prize.

  • 2012

    Apr, Marigold Ideas for Good contest modeled on Purpose Prize sponsored by Participant Media/Takepart. takepart logo (1)

  • 2013

    May, Piper Encore Careers Prize (Purpose Prize replication, Maricopa County). Piper Encore Prizes

  • 2014

    Oct, Purpose Prize for Intergenerational Impact sponsored by The Eisner Foundation awarded Eisner Foundation logo

  • Oct, Purpose Prize for Financial Inclusion sponsored by MetLife Foundation awarded. MetLife_Foundation_Stk_Left_RGB

  • 2015

    May, Cleveland Foundation announces its Encore Cleveland Prize modeled on Purpose Prize. encore cleveland prize

  • 2016

    Feb, Purpose Prize finds new home AARP. 1140-AARP-rp-real-possibilities-Logo.web (1)

When the Prize was launched we wondered, to paraphrase the film “Field of Dreams,” If we build it, will they come? Would we receive high-quality nominations? Maybe there was something to the old notion that social innovation was a young person’s game, to all those articles featuring the 30 under 30? While some experts acknowledged the wisdom of older people, others tended to portray them as resistant to new ideas and adverse to change.

We knew this was wrong. From years of working with and talking to thousands of older adults committed to changing society for the better, we had become convinced that there was an overlooked vast and powerful source of innovation—one that we simply could not afford to sideline or ignore. We had no desire to detract from the stunning accomplishments of youthful social entrepreneurs, but we wanted to expand the tent, to look beyond the usual suspects for new ideas and creative approaches.

But for all our conviction, as the first nomination deadline approached, we began to feel uneasy. Was this too much too soon? Operating on a short time line, would we be able to identify five people who truly deserved this honor? We took an office pool to bet on the number of nominations. My guess: something under 200.

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That first year, we ended up with more than 1,000 nominations—so many that we decided to expand beyond our original vision, and incorporate a group of Purpose Prize fellows each year simply to acknowledge the top 5 percent of nominees. The Prize has proven to be a powerful magnet for collecting stories of significance from every corner of America. Collectively, these stories tell a larger narrative about the possibilities of our aging society.

Over the past decade, the Purpose Prize has become widely known; it’s been likened to a MacArthur genius award for older adults – by both the Wall Street Journal and NPR. The Purpose Prize Jury is filled with luminaries from the arts, business, philanthropy, education, public service and nonprofits. Our stories have been picked up in hundreds of media outlets, including The New York Times and USA Today. An article in The Guardian cited the Purpose Prize as an idea that could help save the United Kingdom’s Labour Party (along with an Encore Investment Fund that would provide very low-cost loans for older entrepreneurs, commercial and social, to set up projects). And replication is under way around the United States; standout examples including the Encore Prize established by The Piper Trust in Arizona’s Maricopa County, and the Encore Cleveland Prize operated by The Cleveland Foundation.

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As we move forward into the Purpose Prize’s second decade, new models and new stories continue to emerge. We’ve seen the vast array of forms that encore entrepreneurship can take, from founding or leading a traditional nonprofit or a newfangled social venture to “intrapreneurial” efforts designed to scale and enhance the impact of mission-driven organizations.

We’ve also seen that social entrepreneurship isn’t just a path for the well-educated or well-off. Indeed, a new study confirms that workers driven by purpose—the desire to help others and find personal fulfillment—are equally represented across all income brackets. As Ashoka founder Bill Drayton likes to say “Everyone can be a change-maker.”

Finally, and most importantly, we’ve learned that the most powerful agents for social change are neither young nor old, but rather partnerships that draw on the unique assets of all generations—a reflection of the fact that we are always stronger together than we are as individuals, and that a lifetime of purpose and contribution can become the hallmark of longer lives and long-lived societies.

By the Numbers

  • 21

    21

    Purpose Prize honorees given Points of Light Awards

  • 14

    14

    Purpose Prize honorees selected as CNN Heroes

  • 8

    8

    Purpose Prize honorees selected as White House Champions of Change

  • 36%

    36%

    Percentage of Purpose Prize honorees doing work with children/youth

  • 28%

    28%

    Percent of winners over the age of 70 when they won the Prize

  • 68

    68

    Purpose Prize honorees doing work outside the US

  • $5M+

    $5M+

    Amount awarded in Purpose Prizes

  • 9729

    9729

    People nominated for The Purpose Prize

  • 410

    410

    Purpose Prize Fellows

  • 98

    98

    Winners of The Purpose Prize

  • 21M

    21M

    Adults ages 50-70 in the U.S. who place a high priority on having an encore career

  • 6.5M

    6.5M

    Potential encore entrepreneurs in the U.S. who plan to start a venture in the next five years

Genesis of the Prize

When we began thinking about how to showcase exceptional social innovators over the age of 60, we knew we were looking for a few specific things.

We wanted to find individuals who had discovered an innovative approach to an important social problem and whose best work was still ahead of them. “Don’t call it a lifetime achievement award. They’re just getting started,” was the headline in our first ad in “The New York Times.”

We wanted to show that social entrepreneurship wasn’t limited to the rich or famous. While we believed that Jimmy Carter and Bill Gates exemplified what social innovation in an encore career could mean, we also believed that new solutions to challenging problems were being devised by everyday people in unexpected places. That was the undiscovered continent of social innovation we sought to explore.

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Lastly, we wanted to show that purposeful next chapters could be written by just about anyone, that the life trajectories of people who became social problem-solvers were varied and didn’t require special talents or training. We wanted to inspire people to see themselves in our Purpose Prize winners, to say to themselves, “I could do that – or something like it.”

To be eligible for The Purpose Prize, we had a few simple rules. Nominees needed to:

• Be at least 60 at the time of the application,
• Have started working on the issue in their 50s or later,
• Be a U.S. citizen or legal resident,
• Address an important social issue in a new way, and
• Have plans to continue working on the issue for at least another five years.

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As the program grew and winners attracted media attention, The Purpose Prize team was challenged to refine a group of as many as 1,000 nominees each year down to a few dozen who would become Purpose Prize fellows, the pool from which a handful would be selected to win cash prizes.

Through multiple stages of review, we strove to find individuals with compelling personal stories and demonstrable impact, who represented the widest possible diversity of issues, geographies and backgrounds. We invite you to meet them –creative and committed people from all walks of life, who prove that life’s third chapter is worth the wait.

Meet The Honorees

2015
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Nancy Altman

Social Security Works and Strengthen Social Security Coalition

Long-time attorney and academic become Social Security advocates, forging a powerful coalition to improve Social Security for all generations.

2015
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Anthony Barash

ConTextos

A lawyer turned social entrepreneur brings literacy to El Salvadoran children by empowering teachers and building libraries for schools.

2015
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Dawn M. Blackman Sr.

The Randolph Street Community Garden

A one-time dress-shop owner now runs an urban community garden that feeds thousands.

2015
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Wickham Boyle

Just Shea

This former stockbroker, journalist and producer works to increase the safety, income and self-sufficiency of women shea-nut harvesters in Ghana.

2015
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Eduardo Canales

South Texas Human Rights Center

A former union organizer preserves immigrant rights, in life and in death, in South Texas border farms and ranches.

2015
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Kathleen Marie Chromicz

Villages Innovate, Inc.

Long-time teacher links rural, village students to youth at international schools in Africa, creating partnerships to share learning and innovation.

2015
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Richard Cizik

New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good

Former National Association of Evangelicals spokesman spreads the word about environmental sustainability, equality and justice .

2015
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Joan Conn

Restavek Freedom Foundation

This suburban mother of three created an organization to end child slavery (restavek) in Haiti.

2015
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Murelle Harrison

Gardere Initiative

A retired professor works to improve an impoverished East Baton Rouge community.

2015
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Young Lee Hertig

Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity (ISAAC)

This Asian-American theologian helps church leaders and seminaries understand and serve the Asian American Christian community.

2015
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Aarlie Hull

Madan Coffee and Tea Plantation

A retired couple transforms a coffee plantation to provide health care and education for more than 20,000 rural PNG residents.

2015
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Larry Hull

Madan Coffee and Tea Plantation

A retired couple transforms a coffee plantation to provide health care and education for more than 20,000 rural PNG residents.

2015
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Thomas Brunner

LeapFrog Investments

Former corporate lawyer’??s expertise helps investment firm expand financial inclusion products for people living on less than $10 per day.

2015
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Karen Kalish

HOME WORKS! The Teacher Home Visit Program

A former schoolteacher and TV reporter tackles students’ readiness to learn with teacher home visits.

2015
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Susila Rani Kambhampati

People's Public School/Praja Vidyalayam

A widow creates a school in India for impoverished children in her husband’s memory, helping students graduate and pursue college.

2015
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Linda M. Kaufman

Community Solutions

This Episcopal priest gives voice to a national movement helping homeless people acquire and maintain permanent housing.

2015
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Eric Kingson

Social Security Works and Strengthen Social Security Coalition

Long-time attorney and academic become Social Security advocates, forging a powerful coalition to improve Social Security for all generations.

2015
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Pam Koner

Family-to-Family

A former dancer and fashion stylist pairs families with plenty with those with little to reduce hunger in impoverished communities.

2015
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Nani Lee

A Positive Tomorrow, LLC-SD

This social worker-turned-attorney and professor mentors students in her quest to empower Native American communities.

2015
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Catherine Strachan Lindenberg

TeenSmart International

Public-health activist and nurse developed an online health-ed resource that promotes self-care, leadership and reduction in high-risk behavior among Central American youth.

2015
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Margaret Lovejoy

The Family Place

This longtime community worker provides a comfortable day center where homeless families can eat, relax, bathe and learn.

2015
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Adrian Moore

Council on At-Risk Youth (CARY)

Long-time juvenile justice professional establishes nonprofit that teaches at-risk youth social and life skills to help them avoid the criminal justice system.

2015
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Estella Mims Pyfrom

Estella's Brilliant Bus

Former teacher creates a mobile technology lab to connect underserved communities to resources, social services and the internet.

2015
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Henry Rock

City Startup Labs, Inc.

A black media exec sets up a program to teach black male millennials entrepreneurship.

2015
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Peter Samuelson

First Star, Inc.

Hollywood producer creates college-based academies for youth in foster care.

2015
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Evelyn Seubert

Teen International Media Exchange (TIME)

A former media professional creates a forum for international youth to create films that foster cross-cultural understanding and friendships.

2015
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Paul Tasner

PulpWorks, Inc.

A laid off businessman uses consumer waste to design and manufacture eco-friendly packaging and combat global plastic pollution

2015
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Sr. Antoinette (Toni) Temporiti

Microfinancing Partners in Africa

A Catholic nun creates a nonprofit that promotes financial independence for more than 10,000 people in Africa.

2015
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Rick Terrien

Innovation Kitchens

Career entrepreneur helps food and farm entrepreneurs develop artisanal food businesses that engage people with disabilities in culinary work.

2015
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David Tice

TrueSpark

A father taps the power of film to teach ethics and personal responsibility to young people across the U.S.

2015
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Harry Wexler

Recovery Through Entrepreneurship

Psychologist teaches entrepreneurship to people with substance abuse or criminal histories to increase employment potential.

2015
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James (Kimo) Williams

United States Veterans Art Program

This Vietnam vet provides art and music therapy resources to V.A. facilities to help other veterans express themselves through art.

2015
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David B. Wolf

The Campaign for College Opportunity

A former community college president combats equity gaps to improve college access and completion for California students.

2015
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Byron Yake

Write on Sports, Inc. (WoS)

Retired journalist brings athletes and journalists to summer camps to inspire writing, critical thinking and self-confidence in at-risk middle-schoolers.

2015
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Laurie Ahern

Disability Rights International

This former journalist became an advocate for children with disabilities held in abusive institutions, fighting torture, training activists and changing lives in 36 countries.

2015
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Patricia Foley Hinnen

Capital Sisters International

This micro-lending champion capitalizes on equality and economic justice with bonds that fight the “feminization of poverty.”

2015
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Rev. Belle Mickelson

Dancing with the Spirit

Far beyond the pulpit, this teacher-turned-Episcopal-priest helps young and old fiddle in harmony, building connections in rural communities.

2015
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Laura Safer Espinoza

Fair Food Standards Council

This former New York State judge moved from the courtroom to Florida’s growing fields, bringing human rights and economic justice to over 30,000 farmworkers.

2014
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William H. Abrashkin

Springfield Housing Authority

This judge left housing court to work for the public housing agency to open avenues to academic success for poor children and their families.

2014
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Liza Bercovici

Gabriella Charter School

This lawyer created an innovative dance-oriented charter school in L.A. in honor of her daughter, a budding dancer who died at age 13.

2014
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Russell deLucia

The Small-Scale Sustainable Infrastructure Development Fund, Inc. (S3IDF)

He helps the poor in the developing world access basic infrastructure services through enterprises owned and operated by local entrepreneurs.

2014
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Gloria Carter Dickerson

We2gether Creating Change

This accountant is breaking the cycle of generational poverty in her Mississippi hometown.

2014
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Alexandreena Dixon

Chiku Awali African Dance, Arts & Culture of Rockland, Inc.

This former corrections officer uses traditional African rites of passage to help young African-Americans avoid jail and teen pregnancy.

2014
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Joanne Grady Huskey

iLIVE2LEAD International

This cross-cultural trainer trains young women worldwide to take the lead on changing their societies for the better.

2014
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Leslie Gray

Woodfish Institute

This psychologist fosters the exchange of indigenous knowledge and Western technology to advance environmental sustainability.

2014
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Priscilla Higham

African Solutions for African Problems (ASAP)

This journalist develops women-run drop-in centers in South Africa for children who have been orphaned by AIDS.

2014
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Rev. Lottie Jones Hood

Underground Railroad Living Museum

This reverend designed an immersive experience at her church that simulates a 1,000-mile journey on the Underground Railroad .

2014
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Maxine Hong Kingston

The Veteran Writers Group

This acclaimed author helps veterans with PTSD heal through intensive writing and meditation workshops.

2014
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Bob Klein

The Festival of New American Musicals

After a Hollywood marketing career, he brings new musical theater, original works by young people, to diverse audiences.

2014
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Linda Lannon

PeopleTowels, LLC

This marketing duo produces reusable organic hand towels, reducing the 13 billion of pounds of paper towel waste sent to U.S. landfills annually.

2014
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Cecilia Nadal

Gitana Productions

She saw too much mutual suspicion among different minority youth in St. Louis – so she built bridges through the performing arts.

2014
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Barbara Nevins Taylor

ConsumerMojo.com

She used her investigative journalism skills to create a website that helps consumers understand complicated issues and avoid scams.

2014
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Douglas E. Noll

Prison of Peace

This trial lawyer turned peacemaker reduces prison violence by teaching murderers to be peacemakers.

2014
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Patricia Pasick

Stories For Hope Rwanda

This psychologist runs an intergenerational storytelling project in Rwanda to help the newest generations heal from the 1994 genocide.

2014
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Wilhelmina Perry

LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent

She combats homophobia in the African-American community, especially in churches, by promoting LGBT inclusiveness.

2014
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Catherine Sanford

Project Lazarus

This injury epidemiologist teaches communities how to more safely use opioid pain medication and how to recognize and reverse an opioid overdose.

2014
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Marisa B. Ugarte

Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition

This human rights advocate rescues human trafficking victims from a brutal, exploitive system.

2014
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Mary Wallace

PeopleTowels, LLC

This marketing duo produces reusable organic hand towels, reducing the 13 billion of pounds of paper towel waste sent to U.S. landfills annually.

2014
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Irving C. Wishnow

Eye Care for Kids Foundation

This optometrist collaborates with school nurses and eye doctors to provide free eye exams and glasses to low-income and uninsured kids.

2014
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Lily Yeh

Barefoot Artists, Inc.

This artist creates public art in communities around the world that are plagued by poverty, crime and despair.

2014
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Jaime A. Yrastorza

Uplift Internationale

A maxillofacial surgeon, he developed a project to correct cleft palates and lips of indigent children in the Philippines through free surgery.

2014
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David Campbell

All Hands Volunteers, Inc.

He is using his management savvy to build a highly effective disaster relief organization dispatching volunteers around the world.

2014
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Dr. Pamela Cantor

Turnaround for Children, Inc.

This child psychiatrist and trauma specialist uses brain science to transform public education in high-poverty schools cross America.

2014
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Kate Williams

Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

After losing her sight, she is forging a new path by helping blind people combat discrimination and find jobs.

2013
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Heather McHugh

CAREGIFTED

McHugh used her MacArthur "genius grant" for poetry to launch an organization that funds all-expense-paid vacations for caregivers.

2013
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Iray Nabatoff

Community Center of St. Bernard

Nabatoff’s "one-stop shop" helps devastated victims of Hurricane Katrina get the assistance they need to rebuild their lives.

2013
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Ann Ogden

Cook for Your LIFE

This two-time cancer survivor teaches healthy cooking to people who, like her, have been touched by cancer.

2013
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Irene Pritzker

IDP Foundation, Inc.

Pritzker invests in the poorest of Ghana’s private schools through microfinance and financial training.

2013
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T.V. Ramakrishna

Sahasra Deepika International for Education

The Ramakrishnas founded a residential school for impoverished girls in Bangalore, India.

2013
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Vijaya Ramakrishna

Sahasra Deepika International for Education

The Ramakrishnas founded a residential school for impoverished girls in Bangalore, India.

2013
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John Reynolds

Veterans2Work

Reynolds prepares veterans for civilian careers and matches them with employers to reduce chronic under-employment among former service members.

2013
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Narendra P. Sharma

Neighborhood Outreach Connection

Sharma operates neighborhood centers to improve the lives of the often-overlooked low-income residents of Beaufort County in South Carolina.

2013
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Joseph Sluszka

Albany Housing Coalition Inc.

Sluszka transformed a struggling nonprofit into a robust organization solving veterans’ homelessness.

2013
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Jewel Thais-Williams

The Village Health Foundation, Inc.

Thais-Williams provides low-cost and no-cost acupuncture, counseling and other natural healing to low-income and otherwise marginalized members of the community.

2013
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Patricia B. Wolff, MD

Meds & Food for Kids

Wolff has worked to save the lives of 85,000 Haitian children through a peanut-based superfood.

2013
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Ysabel Duron

Latinas Contra Cancer

Journalist and cancer survivor Ysabel Duron shines a spotlight on cancer for Latino communitiesacross the United States.

2013
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Carol Fennelly

Hope House

Carol Fennelly’s organization helps transform federal prisoners into involved parents.

2013
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Elizabeth Huttinger

Projet Crevette

Elizabeth Huttinger spotted a big idea in a little shrimp, one that could eradicate a disease infecting millions of the world’s poorest.

2013
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Reverend Violet Little

The Welcome Church

Reverend Violet Little’s higher calling to serve Philadelphia’s homeless is redefining just what a “church” is.

2013
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Vicki Thomas

Purple Heart Homes

Former PR executive Vicki Thomas’ organization adapts foreclosed homes for wounded soldiers.

2013
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Tillie O’Neal-Kyles

Every Woman Works, Inc.

After 36 years with AT&T, O’Neal-Kyles launched a program in Atlanta to help economically disadvantaged women learn work skills and find jobs.

2013
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Barbara Crowell Roy

Eve's Fund for Native American Health Initiatives

Bob and Barbara engage adult Navajos with paraplegia as Voices for Injury Prevention to prevent brain and spinal cord injuries among Navajo youth.

2013
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Nancy Armitage

Alzheimer's Association, Southeastern WI Chapter

Armitage helps people with Alzheimer’s express themselves through art when the disease has taken away their words.

2013
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June Barrett

The Crumley House Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center

After her daughter suffered a traumatic brain injury, Barrett built a rehabilitation center in Tennessee to fill a crucial gap in care.

2013
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Michael Berkeley

Mexico Medical Missions

Berkeley opened a hospital, birthing clinic and airfield in one of Mexico’s poorest regions to bring modern medicine to the Tarahumara Indians.

2013
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Timothy W. Bilodeau

Medicines for Humanity

Bilodeau’s Medicines for Humanity provides access to basic healthcare and medicines to hundreds of thousands of children under 5.

2013
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Fredrick J. Bramante

National Center for Competency-Based Learning

Bramante wants to revolutionize education in America by allowing students to earn school credits anytime and anyplace.

2013
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Mary Lou Breslin

Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund

Breslin has spent decades successfully advocating for the rights of people with disabilities–and now she’s reforming health care.

2013
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William J. Burwinkel

Adopt A Class Foundation

Through his Adopt A Class Foundation, Burwinkel creates a consistent and replicable way for business people to mentor students at the neediest schools.

2013
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Glenys Carl

Coming Home Connection

Inspired by her paralyzed son, Carl trains volunteers to provide free home care for low-income people in New Mexico.

2013
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Jill Ker Conway

Community Solutions

Smith College’s first female president, Conway co-founds a data-driven program to house the homeless — at age 76.

2013
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John Corcoran

John Corcoran Foundation

A longtime teacher who didn’t learn to read until age 48, Corcoran aims to eradicate illiteracy among children–and adults.

2013
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Johanna Crawford

Web of Benefit, Inc.

A domestic abuse survivor, Crawford gives emergency grants that help domestic abuse victims start a new life.

2013
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Robert Crowell

Eve's Fund for Native American Health Initiatives

Bob and Barbara engage adult Navajos with paraplegia as Voices for Injury Prevention to prevent brain and spinal cord injuries among Navajo youth.

2013
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Swaran Dhawan

Counselors Helping (South) Asians/Indians, Inc. CHAI

A 1960s immigrant from India, Dhawan bridges cultural and generational gaps to address mental illness among South Asians.

2013
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Richard Fahey

Liberian Energy Network

Fahey brings solar lanterns and cell phone chargers to Liberia, where less than 10% of the population has access to light after dark.

2013
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Mark Foreman

Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative

Foreman helps Milwaukee’s homeless veterans get food, shelter, furniture and benefits.

2013
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Richard Fox

Trees, Water & People

Fox helps Native Americans tap into the power of renewable energy to warm homes and build renewable energy businesses on tribal reservations.

2013
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Judy Goldetsky

Doorstep Healthcare Services

Goldetsky operates a mobile clinic to bring dental care to Minnesota’s most vulnerable in nursing homes and assisted-care residents.

2013
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Duane Jager

ReUse Works

Jager’s non-profit pairs business with social service to recycle waste into income — and job training for the low-income individuals who need it most.

2013
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Molly MacDonald

The Pink Fund

MacDonald created The Pink Fund to help people going through breast cancer treatment pay their non-medical bills to avoid financial catastrophe.

2012
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Deborah J. Briggs

Global Alliance for Rabies Control

Briggs educates people about rabies and helps vaccinate animals to reduce the rate of human rabies deaths around the world, which are largely preventable.

2012
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Andy Czerkas

The River Food Pantry

Czerkas alleviates hunger and social isolation among low-income residents of Madison, Wisc., by providing free food and services in a welcoming atmosphere.

2012
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Sondra Forsyth

Ballet Ambassadors

Forsyth gives less-affluent children and teens in New York the chance to experience the beauty, rigor and discipline of ballet, as they perform alongside professional dancers.

2012
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Ronne Froman

National Veterans Transition Services, Inc.

Froman helps veterans transition from military to civilian life by providing training they need to get jobs in a tight labor market.

2012
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Allen Hammond

Healthpoint Services

Through a for-profit business with a social mission, Hammond brings modern medical tools, medicine and safe drinking water to low-income, rural communities in India.

2012
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Robert Hildreth

Families United in Educational Leadership

Hildreth’s organization provides workshops, resources, connections and financial incentives to low-income families, to help them get their children to college.

2012
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Susan Jacobs

Wheels of Success

Jacobs helps low-income families with limited access to public transportation obtain dependable, affordable used cars and car repairs, so they can get to and from work.

2012
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Marjorie Laird

Second Wind Fund, Inc.

Laird works to reduce instances of teen suicide in Colorado by connecting at-risk youths to free, immediate treatment.

2012
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Richard Mabion

Building A Sustainable Earth Community

Mabion organizes events to bring more people of color into the growing movement advocating for energy efficiency and environmental protection.

2012
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Toni Maloney

Business Council for Peace

Maloney fosters entrepreneurship — especially among women — in conflict zones, to create jobs and move communities toward prosperity and peace.

2012
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Jerry Moles

Grayson LandCare (USA) NeoSynthesis Research Centre (Sri Lanka)

Moles established a collaboration of farmers, landowners and residents to develop sustainable, local agricultural businesses in rural Virginia.

2012
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Nancy Morgans-Ferguson

Shalom Free Clinic

Morgans-Ferguson’s all-volunteer free clinic provides health screenings, primary care and mental health services to the underinsured and uninsured in California.

2012
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Pauline Nagle Olsen

Malta House of Care Foundation, Inc.

Olsen provides free, ongoing medical care to the uninsured in the Hartford, Conn., area from a custom-built, fully equipped mobile medical van.

2012
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Mikki Sager

The Conservation Fund/Resourceful Communities

Sager helps rural communities in North Carolina create businesses and jobs that protect and restore natural resources.

2012
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Leslie Meacham Saunders

KitchenKids!

Inspired by the idea that the kitchen is the original play station, Saunders creates kitchen-oriented, online learning tools to encourage kids to be smart and healthy.

2012
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Dori Shimoda

Give Children A Choice

Shimoda builds preschools and provides daily vitamins, immunizations and medical checkups to children in remote villages of Laos.

2012
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Gary Slutkin

Cure Violence, School of Public Health, UIC

As a doctor who studies epidemics, Slutkin works to reduce violence in urban communities by treating it like a disease that must be stopped at the source before it infects others.

2012
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Wynona Ward

Have Justice Will Travel

Ward helps women and children recover from physical and sexual violence, mentoring them through psychological, economic and educational steps.

2012
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Gloria White-Hammond

My Sister's Keeper

White-Hammond advances political, social and economic justice for Sudanese women by helping the women acquire education and find strength in each other.

2012
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Bhagwati Agrawal

Sustainable Innovations

Agrawal brings safe drinking water — rain from rooftops — to thousands of villagers in his native India, using his engineering expertise.

2012
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Susan Burton

A New Way of Life Reentry Project

Burton gives female parolees tools for rebuilding their lives after prison and advocates nationally for such support.

2012
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Thomas Cox

Maine Attorneys Saving Homes

Cox — who uncovered massive fraud among mortgage lenders — represents low-income homeowners facing foreclosure.

2012
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Lorraine Decker

Financial Mentors of America Inc.

Decker helps low-income adults and teens acquire the financial, career and life skills they need to transform their lives and prosper.

2011
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Sharon Adams

Walnut Way Conservation Corp.

Adams organizes communities to revitalize and sustain economically diverse neighborhoods.

2011
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Susan M. Anderson

The ArtReach Foundation, Inc.

Anderson uses creative arts therapy to help heal adults and children traumatized by war, violence and natural disasters.

2011
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Im Ja P. Choi

Penn Asian Senior Services

Choi strives to provide dignified care for elderly Asians by matching them with home health aides who speak their language and understand their culture.

2011
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Paul Chuk

Sustainable Schools International

Chuk helps students and teachers in rural Cambodia by strengthening the relationship between school and community.

2011
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Vivian Lowery Derryck

The Bridges Institute

Derryck aims to strengthen democracy and foster economic growth across Africa through trade and social development projects.

2011
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Betty Jo Gaines

Bright Beginnings, Inc.

Gaines helps homeless families with children break the poverty cycle by providing free, individualized childcare, education and family services.

2011
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Barbara Gardner

Bay State Reading Institute

Gardner and Moscovitch are helping Massachusetts schools boost reading skills by coaching teachers and focusing on individual student needs.

2011
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Michael A. Gould

New Futures

Fulfilling his dying brother’s wish, Gould helps low-income students continue their studies after high school.

2011
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Kathryn S. Hanson

ALearn

Hanson helps low-income schoolchildren use their summer vacations to catch up academically and prepare for college.

2011
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W. Andrew Harris

Oregon Health & Science University

Harris promotes training doctors and nurses nearing retirement to bring their experience to medical missions in remote areas of the world.

2011
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Gerald L. Hill

Indigenous Language Institute

Hill connects Native American languages to modern technology to keep ancient tongues alive — and relevant.

2011
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Douglas M. Johnston

International Center for Religion & Diplomacy

Johnston works with religious and political leaders in geopolitical hot spots around the world to support peacemaking.

2011
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Helen Karr

A beauty salon manager turned lawyer, Karr empowers seniors and professionals to help elder or dependent adult abuse victims.

2011
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Carla Kelley

The Human Rights Education Center of Utah

Kelley promotes compassion and acceptance in schools, online and in the workplace to reduce bullying and discrimination.

2011
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Ke Chung Kim

The DMZ Forum / Pennsylvania State University

Kim works to transform North and South Korea’s demilitarized zone into "peace parks" to protect a thriving ecosystem and help unify Korea.

2011
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Jan Lepore-Jentleson

East End Community Services

Lepore-Jentleson moves people from poverty to self-sufficiency, in part through youth development and job training.

2011
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Donald Lombardi

Institute for Pediatric Innovation

Lombardi helps doctors and other caregivers who work with children realize their innovative solutions to common medical treatment problems.

2011
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Ed Moscovitch

Bay State Reading Institute

Gardner and Moscovitch are helping Massachusetts schools boost reading skills by coaching teachers and focusing on individual student needs.

2011
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Caitlin Ryan

Family Acceptance Project

Ryan is pioneering research into families’ treatment of children who come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender at a young age.

2011
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Gary W. Selnow

WiRED International

Selnow connects doctors and communities in war-affected regions to the latest medical information and education.

2011
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Aaron Shirley

Jackson Medical Mall Foundation

Shirley promotes quality health care for low-income residents, having transformed an ailing retail center into a medical facility.

2011
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Ruth E. Skovron

The Northwestern Connecticut Regional Planning Collaborative

Skovron helps small towns revitalize their economies to remain stable, strong and affordable.

2011
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Michael L. Smolens

dotSUB

By enabling video to be translated into any language, Smolens is removing language as a barrier to cross-cultural communication.

2011
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Shana Swiss

Women's Rights International

Swiss guides rural women survivors to be the researchers and documentarians of human rights violations to help them recover from wartime violence.

2011
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Kathleen Taylor

Prevention International: No Cervical Cancer (PINCC)

Taylor trains medical personnel in developing countries to screen for and prevent cervical cancer, a leading killer of women.

2011
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Gail Johnson Vaughan

Mission Focused Solutions

Vaughan identifies ways to find permanent homes for older foster children and helps policymakers figure out how to pay for them.

2011
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Andy Wells

Wells Technology & Wells Academy

Wells trains economically disadvantaged Native Americans as machinists to help them secure jobs.

2011
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Jenny Bowen

Half the Sky Foundation

Bowen is uplifting the lives of thousands of Chinese orphans.

2011
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Randal Charlton

TechTown

Charlton promotes entrepreneurship in Detroit as a means to create jobs and revitalize the struggling city.

2011
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Nancy Sanford Hughes

StoveTeam International

Hughes helps save people in the developing world from catastrophic injury by replacing the traditional open cooking fire with an efficient stove.

2011
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Edward Mazria

Architecture 2030

Mazria is driving the building sector toward dramatically reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

2010
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Arthur J. Ammann

Global Strategies for HIV Prevention

Ammann saves the lives of women and children in the world’s most dangerous and poorest countries through HIV prevention, treatment and care.

2010
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Bob A. Archuleta

Noah's Children

Archuleta makes end-of-life care for terminally ill children more humane, while supporting grieving parents.

2010
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Barbara Beach

George Mark Children's House

Hull and Beach are providing comfort, dignity and quality end-of-life care to terminally ill children in a lively, homelike setting.

2010
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Alicia Cuaron

Centro San Juan Diego

Cuaron helps Spanish-speaking, low-income immigrants successfully integrate into U.S. society.

2010
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Darwin Curtis

Solar Household Energy, Inc.

Curtis is working to improve public health and reduce environmental stress in the developing world by replacing traditional fuel sources with solar ovens.

2010
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Virginia Donohue

On Point for College

She helps marginalized young adults apply to (and graduate from) college.

2010
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Michael Ellerbe

Dixon Correctional Institute

Ellerbe prepares prisoners for re-entry into society, helping them find jobs, manage money, become better parents and avoid substance abuse

2010
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Juliette M. Engel

Angel Coalition

Engel has created “trust networks” including police and public officials in Russia to rescue teenage girls from prostitution.

2010
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Paulette Fair

Kheprw Institute

Fair helps young black males succeed academically and gain valuable life skills that will serve them into adulthood.

2010
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Steven Galen

Primary Care Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland

Galen works to provide high-quality, equitable health care services for low-income, uninsured individuals.

2010
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Adrienne Houel

Greater Bridgeport Community Enterprises, Inc.

Houel connects environmentally friendly businesses and a newly trained work force to urban Connecticut.

2010
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Kathleen Hull

George Mark Children's House

Hull and Beach are providing comfort, dignity and quality end-of-life care to terminally ill children in a lively, homelike setting.

2010
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Richard Kamp

E-Tech International

Kamp’s organization provides technical analysis and training to impoverished communities confronting polluting industries.

2010
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Vina Leno

Language Retention Program

Leno has created an intergenerational language immersion program to teach and preserve Native American Acoma language, culture and traditions.

2010
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Jim Lientz Jr.

Georgia Office of the Governor

Lientz brought sound business practices, greater accountability and customer service to the Georgia’s state government.

2010
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Henrietta Mann

Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College

Mann is providing Native American youths a pathway out of poverty through culturally based higher education at a newly created tribal college.

2010
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Leah Margulies

LawHelp/NY

Margulies provides low-income New Yorkers with free, online legal information and referrals to legal services.

2010
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Raymond McGrath

Institute for International Criminal Investigations

McGrath trains private investigators to examine war crimes, crimes against humanity and instances of genocide, bringing perpetrators to justice.

2010
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Karen Mercereau

RN Patient Advocates, PLLC

Mercereau advocates for and helps patients understand treatment options for better care, and educates a national network of nurses to do the same.

2010
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Sally Miller

National Alliance on Mental Illness Veterans Council

Miller advocates for mentally ill veterans and their families.

2010
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Ellen Moir

New Teacher Center

Moir works to reduce high teacher turnover rates and ensure quality education for students.

2010
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Daniel Nachtigal

Through The Kitchen Door International

Nachtigal uses the power of preparing and eating healthy food to empower new immigrants to become active, healthy members in their adopted communities.

2010
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Gifford Pinchot

Bainbridge Graduate Institute

The Pinchots’ MBA program trains future business leaders on environmental sustainability and innovative solutions to climate change.

2010
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Libba Pinchot

Bainbridge Graduate Institute

The Pinchots’ MBA program trains future business leaders on environmental sustainability and innovative solutions to climate change.

2010
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Rosa Hilda Ramos

Ramos is fueling new green jobs that protect the environment through advocacy of microalgae, an alternative, eco-friendly fuel source.

2010
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Christine Reams

Children Alive Learning Leadership

Reams is helping young people gain a greater desire to learn, better grades and self-confidence.

2010
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Nancy Romer

Brooklyn Food Coalition

Romer is creating a community coalition that provides healthy, locally grown and affordable food.

2010
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Stephen Shames

LEAD Uganda

Shames’ organization educates Ugandan children in a familial school setting to arm a new generation of leaders with the tools to succeed.

2010
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Lucille Smith

Voices of Detroit Initiative (VODI)

Smith builds collaborations among public health providers, reducing costs and improving the care of the city’s uninsured.

2010
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Barbara Chandler Allen

Fresh Artists

Allen engages children as philanthropists to create artwork that brings in donations that pay for desperately needed art supplies for inner-city Philadelphia schools.

2010
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Allan Barsema

Community Collaboration, Inc.

Barsema creates innovative online networks of social service agencies to ensure that people get the help they require quickly, efficiently and effectively.

2010
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Barry Childs

Africa Bridge

Childs improves the lives of vulnerable children and their families in Tanzania by creating farming cooperatives, building classrooms and opening clinics.

2010
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Dana Freyer

Global Partnership for Afghanistan

Freyer helps rural Afghans alleviate poverty, build sustainable livelihoods and restore their environment by revitalizing woodlots, vineyards and orchards.

2010
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Margaret Gordon

West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project

Gordon connected asthma plaguing her community to pollution from the nearby port and improved the area’s environmental health.

2010
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Donald Stedman

New Voices Foundation

Stedman counsels schools on the best ways to engage seriously disabled students, then helps to assess technological and teacher training needs.

2010
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Judith B. Van Ginkel

Every Child Succeeds

Van Ginkel’s program provides in-home services for first-time, at-risk mothers to improve the lives of young families.

2009
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Jaine Darwin

Strategic Outreach to Families of All Reservists

Darwin and Reich coordinate free psychological counseling to families of soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait.

2009
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Bonnie Greene

Music Makers

Greene established Music Makers to offer free or low-cost music instruction at community centers in lower-income neighborhoods.

2009
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Mark Guterman

Springboard Forward

Guterman helps low-wage workers map new career paths through intensive, one-on-one career coaching.

2009
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Emira Habiby Browne

Center for the Integration and Advancement of New Americans (CIANA)

Browne provides culturally sensitive support services to help new immigrants integrate without fear of losing their identity.

2009
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Jannie Harriot

South Carolina African American Heritage Commission

Harriot set out to recognize and preserve the cultural richness and contributions of African Americans in South Carolina.

2009
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Henry Johnson

Benton Boulevard Beautification Leadership Team

Johnson revitalizes urban neighborhoods by rehabilitating inner-city, multifamily rental housing.

2009
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Linda Johnson

Wayne County Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Program

After experiencing the struggles surrounding home foreclosure, Johnson is helping others fight to stay in their homes.

2009
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Brian Julius

Books of Hope

Julius and Wilson create Speaking Books that deliver health information to illiterate individuals about HIV, depression, and other health-related issues.

2009
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Wilma Kirchhofer-Marbury

Youth Leadership for Global Health

Kirchhofer works to promote healthy lifestyle behaviors among youth.

2009
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Brenda Krause Eheart

Generations of Hope Development Corporation

Eheart helps foster kids and at-risk youth beat the odds by establishing intergenerational, residential communities.

2009
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Maria Lemus

Lemus is making the role of “promotores” — lay culturally sensitive health promoters — into a widely accepted profession.

2009
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Carol Levine

Returning Veterans Project

Levine provides free, confidential mental health care to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families.

2009
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Carol Levine

Next Step in Care

Levine works familes and medical professionals to ensure that caregivers understand health-related options for their loved ones.

2009
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Tom Luce

National Math and Science Initiative

Tom Luce created an organization that identifies proven teaching programs in science and math and replicates them nationally.

2009
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Kevin McDonald

Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers

McDonald is helping substance abusers — most with criminal records — become productive, employed members of the community.

2009
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Lawrence McRae

McRae Prostate Cancer Awareness Foundation

McRae developed programs that reach black men in their communities to teach them about prostate health.

2009
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Mary Martin Niepold

The Nyanya Project

Niepold is providing income-generating skills training for African grandmothers caring for grandchildren whose parents have died of AIDS.

2009
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K. Rashid Nuri

Truly Living Well Natural Urban Farms

Nuri works to create natural and organic urban farms, while educating the community on the importance of growing one’s own food.

2009
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Dave Phillips

Cincinnati Works

To address chronic unemployment, the Phillipses created a job training and placement program in the third poorest U.S. city of its size.

2009
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Kenneth Reich

Strategic Outreach to Families of All Reservists

Darwin and Reich coordinate free psychological counseling to families of soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait.

2009
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Robert Sanders

Harvey Brooks Foundation

Bishop Sanders’ programs offer low-income, urban youth and adults ways to build character, life skills, scholastic achievement, and economic opportunities.

2009
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Jan Seago

Pacific Northwest Regional Water Program

Seago educates residents of the Pacific Northwest about watershed protection .

2009
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W. Frederick Shaw

Developing Indigenous Resources

Shaw empowers people living in slums of developing countries to provide their own health and human services.

2009
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Ruth Shuman

Publicolor

Shuman develops programs in which public school students colorfully paint the common areas in their inner-city schools, learning a marketable skill.

2009
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Dale Sims

CleanFish

Sims connects grocery stores, restaurants, and consumers with seafood raised and harvested in an environmentally friendly, sustainable fashion.

2009
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Liane Phillips

Cincinnati Works

To address chronic unemployment, the Phillipses created a job training and placement program in the third poorest U.S. city of its size.

2009
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Patricia Smith Melton

Peace X Peace

Melton is growing a worldwide, grassroots community of women united for peace — 20,000 members in 110 nations.

2009
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David Sedat

Copan 2012 Experimental Botanical Station

Sedat is helping combat poverty by regenerating the most eroded landscape in Copán, Honduras.

2009
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Valerie Sobel

The Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation

Sobel’s foundation helps single parents with urgent expenses stay at their children’s bedsides during catastrophic illness.

2009
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William Stone

The Action Center for Educational Service and Scholarships

Stone used his experience to help a struggling nonprofit serving low-income high school students.

2009
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Linda Tarry-Chard

Project People Foundation

Tarry-Chard empowers impoverished South African women and youth through education, employment, and entrepreneurship programs.

2009
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Edwina Taylor

Cahaba Valley Health Care

Taylor arranges access to health services — including vision and dental care — for underserved, uninsured people, chiefly Hispanics, in Alabama.

2009
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Ted Wohlfarth

EnTeam Organization

Wohlfarth is fostering understanding among children of different faiths using games to bring out the best in each other.

2009
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Marcy Adelman

Openhouse

Adelman advocates for affordable, LGBT-friendly senior housing and services.

2009
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Elizabeth Alderman

Peter C. Alderman Foundation

The Aldermans honor their son, killed on 9/11, by bringing mental health treatment to trauma victims in nine countries around the world.

2009
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Stephen Alderman

Peter C. Alderman Foundation

The Aldermans honor their son, killed on 9/11, by bringing mental health treatment to trauma victims in nine countries around the world.

2009
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Judith Broder

The Soldiers Project

Broder created The Soldiers Project to provide free, confidential, unlimited therapy to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans — and their families.

2009
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Duncan Campbell

Friends of the Children

Campbell created and runs Friends of the Children to provide at-risk kids a caring adult in their lives from age 5 or 6 until they approach adulthood themselves.

2009
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Don Coyhis

White Bison

Coyhis developed Wellbriety, a substance abuse recovery program that taps Native American culture, tradition, and community to help heal his people.

2009
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Ann Higdon

Improved Solutions for Urban Systems

Inspired by her own tough childhood and one teacher’s kind words, Higdon helps high school dropouts get diplomas — and marketable job skills to turn their lives around.

2009
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Henry Liu

Freight Pipeline Company

Liu found a way to transform fly ash — a toxic byproduct of burning coal — into bricks that look and function like the ones made of clay.

2009
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Connie Siskowski

American Association of Caregiving Youth

Memories of caring for her ill grandfather as a child drove Connie to support other youth caregivers taking on adult responsibilities.

2009
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James Smallwood

The Choice Is Yours

Formerly homeless and addicted to drugs, James is now fulfilling a promise to help others stay off the streets.

2009
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Timothy Will

Foothills Connect

Will brought broadband to his Appalachian community, then linked local farmers and chefs through an online ordering system.

2009
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Jin Zidell

Blue Planet Run

Jin started Blue Planet Run to provide safe drinking water to people in the developing world.

2008
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Carl Jordan

Spring Valley Ecofarms

Training organic farmers to meet demands for local, organic and sustainable produce and meats in the Southeast.

2008
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Carole Sumner Krechman

Peacemaker Corps Association

Creating peace and tolerance trainings to reduce youth violence.

2008
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Steven Kwon

Nutrition and Education International

Improving nutrition in Afghanistan by creating a new soybean industry

2008
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Eva Maddox

Archeworks

Bringing good design to the communities, organizations and services that need it most

2008
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Sister Eileen McNerney

Taller San Jose

Helping high-risk youth restructure their lives, finish school, and develop marketable skills.

2008
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Susan McWhinney-Morse

Beacon Hill Village

Allowing older adults to age in their homes by creating community-village support systems.

2008
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John Nelson

Wall Street Without Walls

Helping nonprofits access advice and private capital by connecting them to active and retired finance professionals.

2008
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Anne Nolan

Crossroads Road Island

Nolan provides comprehensive services for the homeless, including permanent housing.

2008
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Adrienne O'Neill

Stark Education Partnership

Raising high school graduation and college admission rates with a community compact.

2008
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Sister Ines Pena

Hogares Teresa Toda

Providing health care, education, and emotional support under one roof for Puerto Rican girls in foster care.

2008
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Paul Polak

Windhorse International, Inc.

Treating the poor as customers for designs that can fight their poverty.

2008
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Rev. William Rankin

Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance

Fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa by reaching village women through religious groups.

2008
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Betty Reiser

Survivors Teaching Students: Saving Women's Lives

Medical school program for the early detection of ovarian cancer using patients’ stories as the vehicle for change

2008
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Jane Roberts

34 Million Friends

Supporting family planning and reproductive health for women in the developing world.

2008
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Jackie Savage

The Work Central Career Advancement Center

Helping the working poor achieve self-sufficiency in the face of the loss of traditional industries

2008
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Ellen Silber

Mentoring Latinas

Mentoring at-risk Latina teens into college and better lives

2008
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Cleo Silvers

For A Better Bronx (FABB)

Addressing environmental and health concerns to improve life in the Bronx

2008
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Roger Sorg

Volunteers in Medicine Clinic

Bringing comprehensive diabetes treatment to uninsured and low-income people

2008
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John Squires

Nuestra Casa

Providing affordable home improvement loans for working-poor homeowners

2008
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Stanley Tigerman

Archeworks

Bringing good design to the communities, organizations and services that need it most

2008
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Jane Wholey

Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools

Helping students displaced by Hurricane Katrina lead the city in reinventing their schools

2008
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Terry Williams

The Wyoming Family Home Ownership Program

Helping low-income families achieve home ownership.

2008
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Joan Wylie

The Take Home Book Program

Fostering a culture of literacy in families with take-home books for children.

2008
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Ro (Rosalie) Wyman

Wyman Worldwide Health Partners Inc.

Creating trust and teamwork to improve health care in rural Rwanda

2008
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Barry Zuckerman

National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership

Bringing lawyers to clinics to improve the health of low-income children.

2008
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Arlene Blum

Green Science Policy Institute

Combining science and advocacy to rid consumer products of toxic chemicals

2008
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Jock Brandis

The Full Belly Project

Jock built the world’s first peanut sheller and moved on to an encore developing sustainable technology for developing countries.

2008
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Jay Davidson

The Healing Place

Providing a new model of housing and recovery for homeless alcoholics and addicts

2008
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Margaret Fleming

Adoption-Link

Facilitating adoption of hard-to-place children, including those with HIV

2008
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Mark Goldsmith

Getting Out and Staying Out

Cutting recidivism rates through comprehensive re-entry services for young offenders

2008
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Nasrine Gross

Kabultec

Teaching literacy classes to women and men in post-Taliban Afghanistan

2008
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Toni Heineman

A Home Within

Offering free counseling to foster kids for as long as they need it

2008
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Joseph James

Corporation for Economic Opportunity

Ensuring that rural African-Americans are included in the green economy

2008
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Richard Ladner

University of Washington

Promoting accessible technologies for people with disabilities

2008
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Sharon Rising

Centering Healthcare Institute

Revolutionizing prenatal care through small group sessions

2008
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Catalino Tapia

Bay Area Gardeners' Foundation

Catalino used the gardeners and their clients f rom his gardening business and started a scholarship fund to seed the American dream for Latino youths.

2008
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Ray Umashankar

Achieving Sustainable Social Equality through Technology (ASSET)

This engineering professor helps the children of sex workers in his native India build a new life by equipping them with marketable high-tech skills.

2008
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John Barczyk

Courageous Persuaders

Engaging high school students through the creative process to curb underage drinking.

2008
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Mary Bub

Wisconsin Rural Women's Initiative

Ending isolation and improving mental health of women in rural Wisconsin.

2008
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Grace Butler

Hope Through Grace Foundation (HTG)

Saving lives through early prevention and cancer screenings to the economically disadvantaged.

2008
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Chia-Chia Chien

Culture to Culture Foundation

Creating culturally appropriate mental health care for the Chinese-American population in the Bay Area.

2008
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Dana Dakin

WomensTrust, Inc.

Microlending integrated with education and healthcare to alleviate poverty in Ghana.

2008
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Joyce Dearstyne

Framing Our Community

Reducing rural poverty with "green" jobs that save the national forest.

2008
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Terry Dickinson

Virginia Dental Association/Missions of Mercy

Providing free dental care to the underinsured, uninsured and the working poor.

2008
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Kathy Eldon

Creative Visions Foundation

Supporting "creative activists" who use media to transform the world around them.

2008
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Thomas Gipson

Thomas Gipson Homes, Inc.

Tapping professional homebuilders to build Habitat for Humanity Homes in Five Days.

2008
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Harold Haizlip

LA's BEST

Bringing in the arts to transform life for under-served public school children.

2007
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Rebecca Anderson

Handmade in America

Using arts and culture to drive regional economic and civic development.

2007
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Carole Artigiani

Global Kids

Preparing urban youth to become global citizens.

2007
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Dennis Bakke

Imagine Schools

Improving schools by empowering teachers as decision-makers.

2007
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Dale Bell

Media and Policy Center Foundation

Using public television to provoke civil discourse and community engagement.

2007
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T. Allan Comp

Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team

Creating empowered communities in Appalachian coal country, one watershed at a time.

2007
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Mildred Dandridge

Awareness for Communities about Energy

Engaging young people with their communities on issues of energy efficiency.

2007
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Christel DeHaan

Christel House International

Eradicating generational poverty through educational opportunity.

2007
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Vera DuMont

Foodshed Alliance

Building a self-sustaining foodshed based on the production and sale of local foods.

2007
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Haywood Fennell, Sr.

Stanley Jones Clean Slate Project, Inc.

Promoting literacy through positive self-image.

2007
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John Foley, S.J.

Cristo Rey Network

Capitalizing on students skills to cover the high costs of running excellent schools.

2007
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Bernie Glassman

Zen Peacemakers

Harnessing the energies of business, government, and social-service providers to address urban decay.

2007
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Parris Glendening

Smart Growth Leadership Institute

Developing effective land use strategies.

2007
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Richard Gygi

ThriftSmart

Creating a franchise thrift store model to generate jobs, serve the proor and support local charity.

2007
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Shakeela Hassan

Harran Productions Foundation

Building bridges between different faiths through theological dialogue and documentary film.

2007
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Bob Jonas

Wild Gift

Inspiring a new generation of leaders dedicated to sustainable human communities and lifestyles.

2007
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William Kelly

Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF)

Enabling large nonprofits to became national players in preserving affordable housing.

2007
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Judy Koch

Bring Me A Book

Providing easy access to high quality children’s books and inspiring parents to read aloud

2007
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Kenneth Lehman

Winning Workplaces

Helping small business and non-profits become better places to work

2007
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Dennis Littky

The Big Picture Company/ The Met Center

Designing small, personalized schools for underserved urban students

2007
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Abby Mandel

Chicago's Green City Market

Creating Chicago’s first local and sustainable farmer’s market

2007
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Richard Niederman

The Forsyth Institute

Eradicating the threat of untreated tooth decay by taking dental care and prevention into schools.

2007
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Richard Steckel

Milestones Project

Teaching tolerance by documenting our common humanity through photography

2007
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Shelli Steckel

Milestones Project

Teaching tolerance by documenting our common humanity through photography

2007
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Arthur White

Jobs for the Future

Improving the literacy of children of inmates and connecting them to their parents.

2007
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Harry Wiland

Media and Policy Center Foundation

Using public television to provoke civil discourse and community engagement.

2007
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Ray Anderson

Interface, Inc.

Adopting business practices for his own multi-million dollar carpet company that protect the environment and boost profits.

2007
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Gloria Jackson Bacon

Ministry, Medicine and Music, Inc.

Building healthy families to help poor children thrive

2007
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Donald Berwick

Institute for Healthcare Improvement

Enlisting wide-scale collaboration across the health care industry to save lives

2007
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Rev. Sally G. Bingham

The Regeneration Project

Leading a religious response to global warming

2007
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Phil Borges

Bridges to Understanding

Utilizing stories, pictures and technology to expand cross-cultural understanding among youth around the world.

2007
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Richard Cherry

Community Environmental Center

Saving energy and providing green building services to low-income New Yorkers.

2007
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Adele Douglass

Humane Farm Animal Care

Advancing humane treatment of farm animals through certification and labeling

2007
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Jose-Pablo Fernandez

Parents Alliance, Inc

Engaging Hispanic parents in the education of their children

2007
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Gordon Johnson

Neighbor To Family, Inc.

Developing programs to prevent the separation of siblings in foster care

2007
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H. Eugene Jones

Opening Minds through the Arts (OMA)

Accelerating student achievement by integrating art in the curriculum

2007
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Gary Maxworthy

Farm to Family

Redistributing tons of nutritious produce to people in need

2007
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Wilma Melville

Search Dog Foundation

Saving lives at disaster sites by training canine-firefighter search teams

2007
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Sharon Rohrbach

Nurses for Newborns Foundation
and Principal, Dynamic Change Consulting

Saving the lives of newborns through nurse home visits

2006
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Stewart Brand

The Long Now Foundation

Nurturing long-term thinking and long-term responsibility

2006
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Shirley Caldwell-Patterson

Cumberland River Compact

Enhancing the future of the Cumberland River watershed

2006
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Sue Crolick

Creatives for Causes/Art Buddies

Pairing creative mentors from advertising and design with inner-city children

2006
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Tobey Dichter

Generations On Line

Overcoming the digital divide for older people

2006
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Ellen Galinsky

Families and Work Institute

Informing decision-making on the changing workforce, family and community

2006
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Joe Garagiola

National Spit Tobacco Education Program

Educating the baseball family and the public about the dangers of smokeless tobacco

2006
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Hans Geissler

Morning Star Fishermen

Teaching sustainable aquaculture to address world hunger

2006
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Robert Gnaizda

Greenlining Institute

Connecting private enterprise and underserved communities in innovative investment partnerships

2006
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Norman Goldstein

By Kids For Kids Co.

Supporting the creativity and inventiveness of kids

2006
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Mosi Harrington

Housing Initiative Partnership, Inc. and HIP Services, Inc.

Revitalizing neighborhoods through innovative housing initiatives

2006
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Larry Hill

The Nehemiah Foundation of Springfield/Clark County

Incubating and supporting ministries to meet community spiritual and physical needs

2006
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Eddie Kamae

Hawaiian Legacy

Preserving and perpetuating the cultural heritage of Hawai’i

2006
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Joan Lipsitz

National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform

Accelerating middle school reform by benchmarking high performing schools

2006
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Hanmin Liu

Wildflowers Institute

Helping sustain communities by uncovering the strengths of their cultures

2006
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J. David Nelson

The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship

Helping young people from low-income communities through entrepreneurship education

2006
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Mary Peterson

ElderSpirit Community

Building a cohousing community of mutual support and late-life spirituality.

2006
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William Raspberry

Baby Steps

Empowering parents to be their children’s most effective teachers

2006
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Ecleamus Ricks

Macon-Bibb County Health Department

Coming out of retirement to provide education, referrals, and follow-up to help improve physical, mental, educational, and socioeconomic outcomes for families.

2006
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Shirley Rose

The American Stroke Foundation

Giving hope to stroke survivors and those who care for them

2006
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David Schwartz

The Eldercare Companies, Inc.

After his mother died of fall-related injuries, former state legislator David Schwartz, 67, became passionate about preventing geriatric falls.

2006
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Susan Stautberg

PartnerCom

Bringing diversity to corporate governance

2006
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Charlie Stayton

The Witness Project

Increasing breast and cervical cancer awareness among African American women.

2006
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John Terry

Gulf of Maine Institute

Developing youth as long-term stewards for the Gulf of Maine watershed

2006
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Thomas Walz

Extend the Dream Foundation

Incubating small businesses owned and operated by persons with disabilities

2006
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Chad Wick

KnowledgeWorks Foundation

Empowering Communities to Improve Education.

2006
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Akbar Ahmed

Daniel Pearl Foundation and Professor of Islamic Studies, American University

Fighting intolerance, conflict and terrorism through dialogue and exchange

2006
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Frank Brady

Medical Missions for Children

Improving access to children’s health care through technology

2006
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Conchy Bretos

MIA Senior Living Solutions

Conchy created the nation’s first public housing project to bring assisted living services to older adults so they can stay in their homes.

2006
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Robert Chambers

More Than Wheels (formerly Bonnie CLAC)

Providing low-interest car loans to the rural poor

2006
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Charles Dey

National Organization on Disability

Engaging high school youth with disabilities in the world of work

2006
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Bernard Flynn

River Partners

Restoring river ecosystems for sustainable flood control and habitat preservation

2006
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Marilyn Gaston

The Gaston & Porter Health Improvement Center

Empowering midlife African-American women to improve their health

2006
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W. Wilson Goode, Sr.

Amachi Mentoring

Mentoring children of incarcerated parents

2006
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Dagney Jochem

Partners In Caring, Duke University

Bringing HIV/AIDS education, prevention and care to rural minorities

2006
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James Ketelsen

Project GRAD

Helping disadvantaged youth to graduate high school and enroll in college

2006
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Suzanne Mintz

National Family Caregivers Association

Giving a voice to America’s family caregivers

2006
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Judea Pearl

Daniel Pearl Foundation and Professor of Islamic Studies, American University

Fighting intolerance, conflict and terrorism through dialogue and exchange

2006
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Gayle Porter

The Gaston & Porter Health Improvement Center

Empowering midlife African-American women to improve their health

2006
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Martha Rollins

Boaz & Ruth

Easing prisoner re-entry and restoring community vitality

2006
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June Simmons

Partners in Care Foundation

Over the two decades that June Simmons worked as a social worker and hospital administrator, she saw a lot that’s right about health care – and a lot that isn’t.

2006
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Herb Sturz

ReServe

Expanding after-school care and tapping older adults for community service

Becoming a Social Entrepreneur

It’s a kind of cliché to think of world-changing passion and creativity as the exclusive province of the young. We forget that successful change also requires experience and knowledge. The Purpose Prize spotlights individual change-makers who draw on the wisdom of their experience, rather than the raw energy of youth.

The importance of these endeavors is obvious. But we want to understand why individuals seek to create social impact later in life, and how some Purpose Prize honorees have moved from recognizing a social need to meaningful action. Their examples provide inspiration and concrete models for those who feel similarly moved to help make the world a better place.

Our team at The Quality of Life Research Center interviewed 39 Purpose Prize honorees to map the paths that led to their innovative work. While we discovered many paths, we found that all included three central elements: introduction to an issue, motivation to tackle the issue and the forging of a solution. Myriad pathways to impact allow people with very different passions, knowledge and lives to succeed, each according to their unique strengths. In the graphic below, we offer real examples that illustrate how these disparate elements combine to yield social change.

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The Pathways to Purpose

Introduction to an issue did not follow a single pattern. Rather, there were many triggers – from taking on a problem others considered important (Mark Goldsmith), a chance encounter (Claire Bloom), actively seeking a compelling project (Thomas Cox), experiencing a problem first-hand (Barbara Young) or watching someone close experience it (Heather McHugh), to exposure to a problem in the everyday course of daily life (Andy Wells). Among those we interviewed, the most common trigger was the last: Witnessing a problem first-hand led to a desire to do something about it.

Personal Motivations were almost always discussed in terms of social purpose: the preventionof something bad (avoidable illness, childhood hunger, wasted food) or the wish to promote something better (quality education, worker rights, cultural opportunities). But more often than not, earlier in each individual’s life – sometimes, in childhood or adolescence – the problem connected to something personally experienced.

Solutions were also diverse. Some people devised a solution by leveraging experience, know-how or skills gained through past work or leisure (Leslie Saunders). Others drew from their own resolution of the problem to inform their programs (Kevin McDonald). Still others lacked the initial key background or skills for solving the problem, and sought out solutions or developed new approaches by brainstorming alone or with others (Bo Webb).

All of these elements combined to trace more than a dozen different paths from issue to impact. One recurring pathway involved drawing on accumulated knowledge and skills to improve a situation that one encountered first-hand. Another involved being motivated to prevent a social problem after learning of it and searching for a solution. The many combinations that contribute to purposeful pathways are proof of the great diversity of social innovators in later life who seek to make a difference in any way possible.

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Encore-stage social innovators have much in common with social innovators of every age. Across the board, these individuals created their programs at different inflection points, and their journeys included obstacles, along with eventual successes. For some, the transition to starting their program was relatively smooth. For others, it was more tumultuous, disrupting careers or pulling them out of retirement. One universal truth: All programs faced major challenges, some acute, some ongoing. Lack of support from policymakers, funders or even family members were common issues, while outright opposition posed an obstacle for others. Personnel and organizational issues additionally diverted attention away from the cause. Beyond their interactions with others, those interviewed expressed emotional struggles with cases or causes that did not pan out. Furthermore, these emotional struggles extended to many who realized that their program was not able to reach everyone.

As you explore the Purpose Prize honorees’ pathways, it’s clear that there’s no single route from inspiration to action — or impact. Click on the plus symbol to learn more about each pathway — and perhaps, discover your own route to encore purpose.

1What was their relationship to the issue?

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Jan Lepore-Jentleson
East End Community Services

Asked to Help

“When St. Mary’s invited me to come out and work for them and start something new, I jumped at the chance.”

  1. FINDING THE ISSUE: ASKED TO HELP
    Unsatisfied working as a bureaucrat, Jan Lapore-Jentleson was looking for a better way to use her talents when St. Mary’s asked her come work with them.
  1. MOTIVATION: PROMOTING WHAT’S RIGHT
    She wanted to help community members thrive in any way possible.
  1. SOLVING THE PROBLEM: HUNTED FOR A SOLUTION
    Jan searched for a model to meet their most dire needs and created East End Community Services
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Claire Bloom
End 68 Hours of Hunger

Stumbled Upon

“I was at a book club meeting. We were talking about a book set in a highly impoverished area and one of the women in the book club said, ‘Hey, I’ve got kids in my classroom who, from the time they have free lunch on Friday until the time they have free breakfast on Monday, have nothing to eat.’ And I just turned to her and said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ And she said, ‘No. No, I’m not.’”

  1. FINDING THE ISSUE: STUMBLED UPON
    Claire Bloom learned about kids who experience weekend hunger by chance, from a friend at her book club.
  1. MOTIVATION: PREVENTING A WRONG
    Moved by the belief that no child should go hungry, she was determined to address weekend hunger.
  1. SOLVING THE PROBLEM: HUNTED FOR A SOLUTION
    Claire researched the best ways to help, which led her to create End 68 Hours of Hunger.
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Thomas Cox
Maine Attorneys Saving Homes

Intentionally Sought

“[The mortgage industry was] abusing homeowners in horrible ways and I was just shocked by it. I thought I might go in and volunteer [at the Legal Aid] office. They were trying to get the ‘Maine Attorneys Saving Homes’ program going [and] were stunned to see a guy like me walk through the door who knew how to do it.”

  1. FINDING THE ISSUE: INTENTIONALLY SOUGHT
    Looking for a way to stay productive after retirement, former Maine attorney Thomas Cox began volunteering with Legal Aid.
  1. MOTIVATION: PREVENTING A WRONG
    Shocked and angered to learn about foreclosure fraud, Tom wanted to help low-income homeowners avoid it.
  1. SOLVING THE PROBLEM: USED FAMILIAR KNOWLEDGE OR SKILLS
    Tom used his expertise in the law to expose fraud and win millions in relief for homeowners.
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Barbara Young
National Domestic Workers Alliance

Personal Experience

“I’d been a domestic worker for a long time. For a long time, my voice wasn’t being heard, my work wasn’t recognized and there was a lack of dignity doing domestic work.”

  1. FINDING THE ISSUE: PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
    Barbara Young, a long-time domestic worker, was mistreated and felt her work was not valued.
  1. MOTIVATION: PROMOTING WHAT’S RIGHT
    She wanted to change underlying policies that permitted the exploitation of domestic workers.
  1. SOLVING THE PROBLEM: HUNTED FOR A SOLUTION
    Barbara connected with the Domestic Workers Alliance, an organization that provided her with knowledge and a platform for making that change.
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Heather McHugh
CAREGIFTED

Experienced by Someone Close

“My admiration for my godson and his wife was so great, as was my sense of empathy about [their role as caregivers for their severely disabled daughter]. And they only wanted so much help. … After I won the MacArthur grant, I tried to think, ‘Who deserves this money most?’ Hands down, it was these people who give up their lives to take care of somebody else who can’t take care of himself.”

  1. FINDING THE ISSUE: EXPERIENCED BY SOMEONE CLOSE
    Heather McHugh was moved by the love and commitment of caregivers after seeing her godson and his wife in that role.
  1. MOTIVATION: PROMOTING WHAT’S RIGHT
    She wanted to create an organization that gives caregivers the much-needed break they deserve.
  1. SOLVING THE PROBLEM: USED FAMILIAR KNOWLEDGE OR SKILLS
    Heather knew from her own experience how rejuvenating getaways could be. As a MacArthur grant winner, she decided to use the money to help exhausted caregivers.
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Andy Wells
Wells Technology & Wells Academy

Witnessed It

“Well, they’ve always been here, the issues. We’re like a lot of communities. We have poverty, and a few miles away we have affluence. So I see both the success and the failure in our community. I was fortunate enough to be able to escape poverty, but I haven’t forgotten it.”

  1. FINDING THE ISSUE: WITNESSED IT
    Andy Wells saw the opportunities for the next generation in his hometown dwindle due to lack of education and jobs.
  1. MOTIVATION: PROMOTING WHAT’S RIGHT
    Andy wanted to create opportunities for employment and on-the-job training to help his community succeed.
  1. SOLVING THE PROBLEM: HUNTED FOR THE SOLUTION
    Realizing that there were skilled labor opportunities in the manufacturing sector, Andy started Wells Academy, a yearlong, full-time course to train students in the equipment, tools and skills they need to get jobs as machinists./li>

2What Was Their Motivation to Tackle the Issue?

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Mark Goldsmith
Getting Out and Staying Out

Personal Reasons

“I’ve always been good with kids. [My wife] said, ‘Why don’t you try it [volunteer to be Principal for a Day at a school]?’ and I said, ‘No.’ And the next year she said, ‘Why don’t you try it?’ She had done it and she thought I’d be good at it, so I went.”

  1. FINDING THE ISSUE: ASKED TO HELP
    Successful ad executive Mark Goldsmith was asked by his wife to participate in the “Principal for a Day” program. He requested a tough school and was sent to the high school at New York’s Rikers Island prison, where he was exposed to the reasons so many return to prison.
  1. MOTIVATION: PERSONAL REASONS
    At first, Mark was reluctant to volunteer, but he eventually did so because his wife continued to urge him to try it.
  1. SOLVING THE PROBLEM: USED FAMILIAR KNOWLEDGE OR SKILLS
    Mark found that his life experiences, combined with his business skills, resonated with the kids. Due to his initial success, he was encouraged to create Getting Out and Staying Out, a nonprofit to help young ex-offenders develop the qualities and skills necessary to succeed in the working world and keep them out of the prison system.
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Allan Barsema
Community Collaboration, Inc.

Existential

“I consider the rest of life to be a gift and want to help give back with it. Why are we here? Why did God give us the gifts that he has, and the intellect that he has, if we’re not here to try to help each other? So that’s just what we try to do. That’s the motivation.”

  1. FINDING THE ISSUE: WITNESSED IT
    Allan Barsema encountered the homeless every day in the neighborhood where he worked.
  1. MOTIVATION: EXISTENTIAL
    Ten years earlier, Allan’s life had spiraled downward, bringing him to the point of suicide. After reaching a crisis point, he found new meaning in his faith, which led him to pursue volunteer work first abroad and then closer to home.

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  1. SOLVING THE PROBLEM USED FAMILIAR KNOWLEDGE OR SKILLS
    Allan, an experienced contractor, used his project management skills to design the needed technology to create a program that knit together a wide array of social services and supports.
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Grace Butler
Hope Through Grace Foundation (HTG)

Preventing a Wrong

“Our goal is to reduce the incidence and mortality rates of colorectal cancer through prevention and early detection – it’s our mission statement. It’s what we were designed to do.”

  1. FINDING THE ISSUE: STUMBLED UPON
    After being diagnosed and treated for colon cancer herself, Grace Butler was asked to serve on a statewide committee to develop a strategic plan to address cancer. There she learned that African Americans were dying from these cancers at a higher rate than other groups.
  1. MOTIVATION: PREVENTING A WRONG
    She thought she could help prevent unnecessary colon cancer deaths.
  1. SOLVING THE PROBLEM: HUNTED FOR A SOLUTION
    Grace gathered a group of friends and acquaintances and together this “motley crew” developed plans to educate people about the importance of regular screening and early detection and to provide access to baseline colonoscopy screenings.
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Alexandreena Dixon
Chiku Awali African Dance, Arts & Culture of Rockland, Inc.

Promoting What's Right

“African-American kids have no concept of Africa. If these are the things that we’re teaching our children, they can be proud of who they are. They can have better self-esteem and self-efficacy. . . . because if you believe that you can do something, you can do something.”

  1. FINDING THE ISSUE: WITNESSED IT
    Growing up on the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and later as a corrections officer, Dreena Dixon saw too many youth whose only rites of passage were alcohol, drugs, jail, and teen pregnancy.
  1. MOTIVATION: PROMOTING WHAT’S RIGHT
    She wanted to share her inspiration for a better life by helping African-American youth develop a greater sense of self-worth and cultural pride.
  1. SOLVING THE PROBLEM: PERSONALLY EXPERIENCED THE SOLUTION
    Drawing on her early experiences in dance and the arts, Dreena created a program that involves youth in African dance and traditions.

3What Is Their Relationship to the Solution Their Program Offers?

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Leslie Meacham Saunders
KitchenKids!

Used Familiar Knowledge Or Skills

“Well, I grew up in a kitchen. It’s a natural transition. It’s like doing what I was groomed to do. Throughout the history of the world, the kitchen has been the original play and learning station for children. If you learn how to cook, you learn about food and how nutritious it is and how to prepare it, but you also learn how to follow instructions and work together as a team.”

  1. FINDING THE ISSUE: WITNESSED IT
    Leslie Meacham Saunders heard people treat the children in her community as statistics, but she knew many of the children and their strengths personally, and knew that they were much more than statistics.
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  1. MOTIVATION: PROMOTING WHAT’S RIGHT
    Guided by experiences in her own loving and supporting family, Leslie wanted to develop a way for communities of parents and children to support each other and encourage learning and well-being.
  1. SOLVING THE PROBLEM: USED FAMILIAR KNOWLEDGE OR SKILLS
    During a storm that forced the children of her guests to play indoors, Leslie kept them occupied by giving each “an important job” in the kitchen. She was struck by the idea that for millennia, across cultures, the kitchen has been kids’ original play station, and a place to learn. Her organization, KitchenKids!, was the result.
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Kevin McDonald
Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers

Personally Experienced the Solution

“I was looking at 20 years [in prison]. I had no future. And then all of a sudden I got a Supreme Court reversal. And so I got a chance to go to a program where I spent 12 years and I got a Ph.D. in life. You know: learning skills, caring about people…. And then I took the risk to start TROSA with $18,000 and a non-fundraising board, because I really wanted to do what I believed in. And I was passionate about it.”

  1. FINDINGTHE ISSUE: PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
    Kevin McDonald experienced first-hand the devastating effects of substance abuse.
  1. MOTIVATION: PROMOTING WHAT’S RIGHT
    After recovery, he was determined to help others who were battling substance abuse to lead fulfilling lives.
  1. SOLVING THE PROBLEM: PERSONALLY EXPERIENCED THE SOLUTION
    Based on his own experience in a resident-run recovery program, Kevin created a free, long-term, residential, community-based program where the residents run businesses that serve as on-the-job vocational training sites, while helping sustain the organization.
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Bo Webb
Coal River Mountain Watch

Hunted for a Solution

“We talked about the greatest movement of all, mostly with Martin Luther King and Freedom Summer and so we decided that we would try to form this movement: non-violent, direct action, civil disobedience. We went on speaking tours at several colleges. We educated them on it and they started researching, and we brought together a band of students.”

  1. FINDING THE ISSUE: EYE-WITNESS TO THE PROBLEM
    Bo Webb looked forward to retiring and returning to where he was raised in Appalachia. But once there, he discovered that mountaintop removal coal-mining was destroying the land.
  1. MOTIVATION: PREVENTING A WRONG
    He was determined to stop the destruction.
  1. SOLVING THE PROBLEM: HUNTED FOR A SOLUTION
    Studying the Civil Rights Movement, Bo and his colleagues concluded that organized, nonviolent civil disobedience would get needed attention to right this wrong.

Generations

Wilson Goode won a Purpose Prize in 2006, the Prize’s first year, for engaging tens of thousands of church members as mentors for young people whose parents were behind bars.

A few years later, in 2009, Duncan Campbell won a Purpose Prize for putting caring adults 24/7 in the lives of hundreds of high-risk children from age 5 or 6 until they themselves approach adulthood.

In 2014, Pamela Cantor won a Purpose Prize for using brain science to help thousands of young people cope with the trauma of poverty.

It’s clear that Encore.org’s Purpose Prize winners respond to a keenly felt impulse to help young people. Call it “generativity” if you will, but there are simpler ways to explain why Prize winners – and millions of others in their encore careers – turn their attention to young people.

It’s about what’s most important. All three of the Purpose Prize winners above had defining experiences as young people.

When he was 14, Wilson Goode’s father went to jail for assaulting Goode’s mother. Duncan Campbell was picked up by the police at age 3, wandering the streets in the middle of the night searching for his parents, who were later found in a bar. Pamela Cantor had a turbulent childhood, raised by parents who were often unable to support her emotionally or academically. She found the help she needed from a stranger on a plane who introduced her to a therapist.

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Whether consciously or unconsciously, many of us seek others who face challenges like those we faced as young people. As we get older, we are drawn to the work that allows us to use what we know to help those who may be struggling.

It’s about meaning. “I get more out of this than the kids do.” We’ve each heard that hundreds of times from members of Experience Corps, a tutoring and mentoring program we’ve taken turns leading. Corps members, all over 50, work with K-3 students who are struggling to learn to read.

We might argue that the kids get the better end of the deal, but Corps members get a lot. The generosity and kindness they offer comes back to them many times over. And research shows that Experience Corps members are healthier and happier than similar older adults who don’t work with young people.

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There’s no doubt that in striving to make the lives of younger generations better, we make our own lives better. It’s not why most people get involved in the first place, but it’s a strong motivator to come back for more.

And it’s about love. Young people may put the purpose in Purpose Prize, but dig down an inch or two and it’s hard to deny that love is where it all starts.

It’s hard to run serious programs and talk about love; it feels squishy and sentimental and it makes a lot of people squirm. But love is the very quality that drives Purpose Prize honorees – and the rest of us – to want the best for others, to make sacrifices for others, to ask for nothing from them in return.

Purpose Prize winners don’t shy away from love. They build on it. They share it. They use it to get children what they need to thrive.

There is no higher purpose for any of us.

Meet The Mentors

Richard Joyner - Returning to the Soil
Duncan Campbell - Changing Lives One Child at a Time
Judy Cockerton - It Takes a Village
Wanjiru Kamau - Welcome to America
Hubie Jones - Together In Song
Judith Van Ginkel - Every Child Succeeds
Jamal Joseph - Impact through Theater
Belle Mickelson - Generations Fiddling in Harmony
Charles Fletcher - Touching the Spirit
Pamela Cantor -­ Tackling Trauma

Ten years ago, three partners, The Atlantic Philanthropies, the John Templeton Foundation and Encore.org, joined forces to do something unprecedented – create a major prize, on the level of the MacArthur Fellowship, to tell the stories of social innovators over 60 who use their life experience to transform the way we approach society’s biggest challenges. A decade in, we celebrate the bold experiment of The Purpose Prize.

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A Note from the John Templeton Foundation


It all started with a fax—not your typical source for innovation today. Still, the John Templeton Foundation’s first grant for The Purpose Prize a decade ago was inspired by this question, which Sir John Templeton sent by fax: “How could the Foundation help promote a vision of purpose in retirement?” In the foreword to Dr. Harold Koenig’s 2002 book “Purpose and Power in Retirement,” Templeton wrote that, “At age 89, I am busier than ever, more enthusiastic and joyful than ever, because I am working on dozens of programs to help humanity gain more spiritual wealth.” Because he experienced the joy and benefits of living with purpose in his own “encore career,” Sir John wanted to help promote this form of “spiritual wealth” as widely as possible.

What’s the best way to pursue such an ambitious goal? Prizes often inspire innovation, ranging from Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic in The Spirit of St. Louis to suborbital space flight with the Ansari X-prize. Of course, there’s no guarantee of success. Many prizes can also be the equivalent of the gold watch at a retirement party – a gracious acknowledgment of past good work but with little impact on the future. So why did we think a prize was a good option for this challenge? The short answer: Never underestimate the human desire to leave a legacy. Most of us will not be able to fund the construction of buildings named after ourselves, but almost everyone can follow his or her passion to make the world a better place. This is why Sir John was eager to invest his financial wealth into creating spiritual wealth – the power of beneficial purpose in action.

Templeton’s investment philosophy was that trouble in the markets was also opportunity. So too, an aging population that is living longer need not portend financial catastrophe, but a golden opportunity to rethink and reshape these generative years of life for the common good. The growing pool of strong applicants to The Purpose Prize is a powerful testament to the wisdom of this view. There is an additional lesson Templeton’s investing career has for the future of encore careers: going global. The benefits of – and need for – productive lives of purpose is not limited to the U.S. The next major challenge will be to expand the vision and practice of purpose in retirement as broadly as possible. It’s an investment that will pay dividends for decades to come.

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A Note from The Atlantic Philanthropies

Atlantic Philanthropies began our support for The Purpose Prize ten years ago, in part to recognize and celebrate outstanding older Americans and the causes in which they’re involved. But our bigger and longer-term aim has always been to change public expectations about the later periods of life, and especially the expectations of elders about their own encore stage of life. We sought to help pave the way for a more satisfying life in later years while mining an untapped supply of experience, talent and energy for solving some of society’s biggest problems. With Encore.org, we have sought to change narratives and recalibrate perceptions to view aging as, in the words of Betty Friedan, “a new stage of opportunity and strength.”

The Purpose Prize shines a light on those people – by no means ordinary – who have devoted their lives to doing extraordinary things for their communities and for the greater good. It has been our privilege, through our investment in Encore.org, to help recognize and honor these amazing individuals who, day after day, live with conviction and purpose, inspiring others to follow in their footsteps, locally and around the world.

The Encore movement has made remarkable, undeniable progress over the past decade; the fundamental ideas and principles we share have become part and parcel of global conversations on aging and the “encore” stage of life.

The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer had it right when he reminded us that “Once you’re over the hill, you begin to pick up speed.” To Encore.org, and all the winners of The Purpose Prize – past, present and future – thank you for blazing the trail, kicking up the dirt and leading the way for all of us.

Encore.Org and AARP Join Forces


Ten years ago, The Purpose Prize set out to tell a new story about creativity and innovation in the second half of life. Today, the work of more than 500 honorees is testimony to the extraordinary possibilities of the “encore” years, for individuals and for society.

As we move forward into the second decade of The Purpose Prize, the story continues to become even more powerful. We have long dreamed of a bigger stage for The Purpose Prize – a chance for it to inspire millions upon millions of people. And so, we are thrilled to announce the transitioning of The Purpose Prize to a new home at AARP, where it can become the inspirational force for social change we all believe it can be.

Encore.org and AARP share a common goal of re-envisioning aging in America, and a long history of collaboration. In 2011, AARP adopted the tutoring and mentoring program Experience Corps, another flagship program launched by Encore.org, with the strategy of greatly expanding the scale of that program through its national network and pipeline of 50+ adults. That same year, AARP sponsored the first Purpose Prize award focused on intergenerational innovation.

Under the leadership of AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins, we believe that The Purpose Prize will have its own second act that’s more significant and sweeping than everything that’s led up to this point. As we strengthen our partnership with AARP, we look forward to dreaming big about the future of encore talent, together. Over the next decade, we believe the Prize has the potential to take its message of later life creativity and innovation to every corner of the globe — demonstrating how life’s second half can be a time when everyone has the chance to become a force for change.

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Credits and Acknowledgements


Encore Project Team: Jim Emerman (project manager), Marci Alboher, Eunice Lin Nichols, Aireen Navarro Khauv, Helen Zelon
Producer: Talking Eyes
Art Direction: D Griffin Studio
Site Development: Griflan Design

Encore.org wishes to acknowledge the staff, sponsors and members of the jury who contributed to the success of The Purpose Prize over the decade.

Directors of The Purpose Prize: Jim Emerman, Alexandra Cespedes Kent, Michelle Hynes, Eunice Lin Nichols

Program Staff, Fellows and Consultants: Vanessa Alabarces, Scott Allen, Kim Arden, Jenny Griffin, Aireen Navarro Khauv, Lauren Patti, Jen Pinkowski, Kim Sedmak, Karen Sughrue, Helen Zelon


Founding Sponsors: The Atlantic Philanthropies and John Templeton Foundation

Individual Prize Sponsors: AARP, MetLife Foundation, The Eisner Foundation, Symetra Financial Corporation

Other Supporters: Hewlett-Packard, Legacy Venture, S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Lodestar Foundation, Cordes Foundation, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, Diane L. Paul, The Sherry Lansing Foundation, Rik Kranenburg, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Center for Social Innovation, Stanford Graduate School of Business, The Skoll Foundation, The Case Foundation, Yahoo!, SanDisk, IDEO, Ode Magazine


Jurors: Sherry Lansing (chair), David Bornstein, Conchy Bretos, Bob Buford, Laura Carstensen, Mihaly Csizentmihalyi, Fred Davie, David Eisner, Michael D. Eisner, Linda P. Fried, Mitchell Fromstein, David Gergen, Dan Guilbert, Jennie Chin Hansen, Antonia Hernandez, Arianna Huffington, Christine James-Brown, Jo Ann Jenkins, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Wendy Kopp, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Suzanne Braun Levine, Charles Ashby Lewis, Eric Liu, Monica Lozano, Michael Mendenhall, Mario Morino, Janet Murguia, Olga Davis Murray, Peter Osnos, Lynne Randolph Patterson, Jane Pauley, John Pepper, James A. Phills, Sidney Poitier, Myrtle Potter, Alma Powell, Marc Racicot, Rey Ramsey, Barry Rand, Cokie Roberts, Katherina M. Rosqueta, Kurt L. Schmoke, General Eric K Shinseki (USA Retired), Alan Solomont, Sree Sreenivasan, Gloria Steinem, Lester Strong, Erwin Tan, Jeffrey C. Taylor, Thomas J. Tierney, Linda E. Watt, Angela F. Williams, Harris Wofford

National Selection Committee: David Bornstein, Cedric Brown, Amy Clark, Kriss Deiglmeier, Claudia Escobar, Nicole Gallant, Rod Hsiao, Alice Ito, Judith Kanter, Alexandra Cespedes Kent. Joseph Mouzon, Chad Mulder, Janet Oh, Brenda Reiss-Brennan, Shirley Sagawa, Rosaline Vasquez, Gary Walker

Copyright 2016 Encore.org


Timeline photo credits: Sidney Poitier: United States Department of the Interior National Park Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; The Presidential Citizen’s Medal: U.S. Gov. (The White House – The Presidential Citizen’s Medal) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; National Constitution Center: Jeffrey M.Vinocur Creative Commons license (CC-BY-SA-3.0)