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They want to teach refugees, build a clinic in Kenya, impart life skills to inmates and more. The latest round of Marigold Ideas for Good Contest finalists want to put their ideas to work to improve lives.

And you can help them with just a click – your vote. Five of the 15 finalists will win $5,000 to act on their ideas. One of them will win the money, plus a trip valued at up to $5,000 from Road Scholar.

Do you want an encore career but don’t know what job you want or how to get there? If so, check out four new online courses on exploring jobs, all designed for people 50 and older (although open to students of any age):

  • Exploring Green Jobs
  • Exploring Jobs in Caregiving
  • Exploring Jobs in Community Engagement
  • Exploring Jobs in Education

What’s next for long-term nonprofit founders and leaders who have devoted their working lives to solving social problems? That’s the focus of a survey featured this week in the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

At a recent White House ceremony, Purpose Prize fellow Dolores Huerta became one of only 13 people – including such big names as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former astronaut John Glenn and musician Bob Dylan – to receive the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The medal is the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Deborah Greymoon, a Cascade, Colo., nurse and longtime midwife, has heard too many stories of women in the developing world endangered – sometimes killed – by unsafe birthing practices.

College Park Elementary in San Mateo, Calif., had a great computer lab but no one to run it. Gifford Calenda, whose son attends the school, had years of experience developing software at Apple, and – in retirement – he had free time.

Perfect conditions for an encore career.

By Barbara Raab

This morning, on a walk with a friend during which we were catching up on every little thing, I heard myself say: “I am in peri-retirement.”

It kind of popped out – I’d never said that before, much less known that I even had the phrase in my head. But once I said it, I realized: That’s exactly the right way to explain how I feel.

By J. Gaston Kent Jr.

Twenty-four years ago, I lost all hearing in my right ear from an infection. I now wear a bone-anchored hearing aid, or BAHA, that carries sound through bone in my skull to my functioning ear.

Nearing my retirement after 35 years in management at Northrop Grumman Corp., I joined the board of a highly respected center for deaf children in Los Angeles called John Tracy Clinic. I was happy to help in any way I might be of service.

By Julie Shifman

Some people start volunteering because they’re passionate about a cause. Michael Burke, a Baltimore chef, began volunteering because he got rheumatoid arthritis. That decision paved the way to his current paid job.

I’m amazed at the great ideas that people carry around in their back pockets, hoping one day to get a chance to bring them to life. For 15 people, all over 50, that day is nearly here.

The 15 finalists in this month's Marigold Ideas for Good Contest have long wanted to right a wrong, open up worlds for young people, or make things better for those who need a break. Today they need your vote.

Purpose Prize winner Arlene Blum, whose research and advocacy led to a ban on a toxic fire retardant in children's sleepwear, has recently lent her expertise to two major media outlets.

By Maggie Jackson

In a new world of elongated lives and career fluidity, we need to have patience – with ourselves.

That was perhaps the most poignant and startling point articulated by a panel on “Second Careers, Doing Good” held recently at my Yale college reunion. I put together the event to explore the trepidation and the liberation that we all seem to feel about the gift of a longer life.

Like other boomers, we are eagerly planning or pursuing new careers, which often involve social impact. But reshaping our lives doesn’t occur with push-button speed or ease.

The cable news channel CNN recently named Purpose Prize winner Connie Siskowski one of its 2012 CNN Heroes – "everyday people changing the world."

CNN selected Siskowski for her compassionate and innovative work in helping youths care for aging, disabled or ill family members.

Meredith McKenzie left the real estate industry in fits and starts as she struggled to switch careers and follow her passion: river conservation.

At 55, she traded her expensive California beach house for a 300-square-foot converted garage, living like a grad student. Maybe an undergrad.

Myth: Innovation is the province of the young.

Reality: Millions of Americans 50 and older are starting their own enterprises.

When jobs are hard to find and gray-haired applicants don't feel entirely welcome, many in midlife are drawing from their experience and creativity to become entrepreneurs.

All of a sudden, there are movies about life beyond midlife.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy – has quickly become a critical and box office hit.

Don’t forget Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts in Larry Crowne, Isabella Rossellini and William Hurt in Late Bloomers, and, next year, Tina Fey in The Intern, playing the founder of a fashion company who mentors a 70-something intern bored with retirement.

What gives?

Laura Vanderkam has developed a bit of a specialty in convincing people they have more than they think they do. In her last book, 168 Hours, she did it with time. In her latest, All the Money in the World, she focuses on money.

If you’re one of the 31 million people ages 44 to 70 who would like to find an encore career combining purpose, passion and a paycheck, Encore.org can help.

Encore.org isn’t a job matching service, but we have compiled and recently updated a hefty list of websites and resources that we hope will help you get started. Take a look here.

You’ll find:

  • Ten links to websites that list a wide range of job openings.

Editor's note: This essay first appeared on the Harvard Business Review's website. Find, and comment on, the original here.

I don’t often get to write about movies, as much as I love them.

But today I’m writing to let you know about a beautiful re-coming-of-age movie, starring Judi Dench, Tom Wilkerson, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy, along with Dev Patel, the young star of Slumdog Millionaire.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, is about adventure, love and purpose in the encore years. If you love to laugh and travel – and are wondering what’s next in your life – you’re in for a treat.