Finalists for First-Ever Purpose Prize Represent Undiscovered, Overlooked Source of Social Innovation: Americans Over 60

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SAN FRANCISCO Civic Ventures, a think tank and program incubator helping society achieve the greatest return on experience, today announced 15 finalists for its first-ever Purpose Prize, a major new initiative to invest in Americans over 60 who are leading a new age of social innovation. The finalists including a social worker, former mayor, farmer and car salesman reveal the wide variety of backgrounds and experiences that those over 60 bring to the task of solving some of society’s most pressing problems in what used to be called the retirement years.“As the first of America’s 77 million baby boomers turn 60 this year, The Purpose Prize finalists are doing what society least expects people over 60 to do: innovate,” said Marc Freedman, founder and President of Civic Ventures. “These men and women some national figures, some local heroes disprove the assumption that innovation is the province of the young and show us the essence of what’s possible in an aging society.”The finalists, along with 1,200 Purpose Prize nominees, are trailblazers for what promises to be a movement of social innovators in the second half of life, added Freedman, author of Prime Time, How Baby Boomers Will Revolutionize Retirement and Transform America. “Known for idealism, action and remaking any institution that does not suit them, boomers are already combining their passion, expertise, energy and desire for work with purpose to discover new solutions to critical problems.”

The first significant investment in this previously undiscovered force for social innovation, the Purpose Prize will award each finalist at least $10,000. In addition, five finalists will win $100,000 each in September. Two foundations, the Atlantic Philanthropies and The John Templeton Foundation, provided funding to Civic Ventures for the Prize program.

“More than just a set of hands, today’s boomers and older Americans represent an extraordinary pool of social and human capital,” said Freedman. “These inspiring innovators will show that investing in social entrepreneurs in the second half of life yields unprecedented returns for society.”

To capitalize on this potential, winners and finalists will be able to apply for support from Civic Ventures’ new million-dollar Fund for Innovation dedicated to their work. Both groups, along with another 55 Purpose Prize Fellows, will also participate in a summit on innovation September 7-10 at Stanford University. That same week, Civic Ventures will announce the five Purpose Prize winners, who will have been selected by a jury comprised of 21 leaders in business, politics, journalism and the nonprofit sector.

“Unlike a lifetime achievement award, the Purpose Prize is a critical investment in what these creative individuals will do next to solve important problems,” said Purpose Prize jury Chair Sherry Lansing, CEO of the Sherry Lansing Foundation and former Chair of Paramount Pictures’ Motion Picture Group. “As Bill Gates said, ‘It’s not about retiring, it’s about reordering your priorities.'”

The finalists include:

Frank Brady, 63 (Paterson, NJ): Improving children’s access to healthcare through technology

Conchy Bretos, 60 (Miami, FL): Bringing assisted-living services to public housing

Robert Chambers, 61 (Lebanon, NH): Providing low-interest car loans to the rural poor

Charles Dey, 75 (Lyme, CT): Integrating disabled teenagers into the work world

Bernard Flynn, 71 (Sacramento, CA): Restoring river ecosystems for sustainable flood control and habitat preservation

Marilyn Gaston, 67, and Gayle Porter, 60 (Bethesda, MD): Empowering midlife African-American women to improve their health

Wilson Goode, 67 (Philadelphia, PA): Mentoring children of incarcerated parents

Benjamin Hooks, 81 (Memphis, TN): Preventing childhood exposure to lead poisoning

Dagney Jochem, 64 (Raleigh, NC): Bringing HIV/AIDS education, prevention and care to rural minorities

James Ketelsen, 75 (Houston, TX): Helping disadvantaged youth to graduate high school and enroll in college

Suzanne Mintz, 60 (Kensington, MD): Giving a voice to America’s family caregivers

Judea Pearl, 69, and Akbar Ahmed, 63 (Los Angeles, CA and Washington, DC): Fighting intolerance, conflict and terrorism through dialogue and exchange

Martha Franck Rollins, 63 (Richmond, VA): Restoring community vitality and helping ex-prisoners more productively re-enter society

June Simmons, 64 (San Fernando, CA): Creating, implementing and evaluating new ways of delivering health care

Herb Sturz, 75 (New York, NY): Expanding after-school care and tapping older adults for community service

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