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James Robinson, a recent winner of our Launch Pad contest, is currently participating in the Pepsi Refresh Challenge in the hopes of winning $25,000 for his nonprofit organization -- GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services, Inc.

We celebrate individuals from time to time for breaking new ground or delivering creative, efficient solutions to public problems. But rarely do we pay attention to where tomorrow's innovators will come from. At City Year and Civic Ventures, this "new pipeline" approach is built into the mission of our organizations. We share an expectation that we should be engaging people in solving, or building capacity to solve, their communities' problems.

The following commentary, written by Civic Ventures Vice President Phyllis N. Segal and Civic Ventures Board Chair Ruth Wooden, was published by the Chronicle of Philanthropy in its July 28 issue.

Say you’re ready for an encore career, but you have a partner who wants to retire to the golf course. Or you want to work part-year and travel, while your spouse wants to continue working full-time and stay put. A new book, The Couple's Retirement Puzzle: 10 Must-Have Conversations for Transitioning to the Second Half of Life, can provide some help. Authors Dorian Mintzer and Roberta Taylor are both therapists who have worked extensively with people in their encore years.

Thousands of college-bound teenagers take a gap year to rest up and gear up for what’s next. Why not make the same opportunity available for their parents?

That’s the question Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of Civic Ventures and author of The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife, asks in a new Harvard Business Review blog post titled, “A Gap Year for Grown-ups.”

Recognizing the innovative way she is keeping seniors out of nursing homes, Bloomberg Businessweek has named Purpose Prize winner Conchy Bretos one of America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs of 2011.

Some savvy investors and entrepreneurs think encore careers are a hot market category.

The 950 six-word encore story contest entries are, in a word, dazzling. (In six words: Dazzling, eloquent, sharp, funny, heartfelt, hopeful.)

The entries cover a wide range of encore topics and feelings – confusion, hardship, pride, optimism, a sense of possibility and the desire to make a difference. They speak to the satisfaction that comes from finding the specific encore career that’s just right. And they speak most consistently about transitions, renewed purpose and social impact.

In this economy, it helps to have a competitive edge when looking for an encore career. Over the past few years, social media has not only become a way to communicate and connect with others, but it has also become a means to catapult one’s career.

Some of the most inspiring encore stories come from Purpose Prize winners and fellows, people in their 60s and beyond who are tackling society’s toughest problems.

If you’re in New York on June 29, join us at the New York Public Library for some inspiration from four Purpose Prize honorees, who will talk about how they transitioned into encore careers.

Encore.org is issuing a challenge today: Tell your encore story in six words.

The contest, inspired by SMITH Magazine’s Six-Word Memoir® project, asks readers of any age to submit just six words that describe all or part of their encore journeys.

A few samples from our staff at Civic Ventures, publisher of Encore.org:

  • AARP discount and two cribs, please!

We asked for 250 words. You gave us amazing encore stories.

In a new documentary produced by Academy Award-winning actor Sean Penn, Purpose Prize winner Elizabeth Alderman recalls the horror she felt after she lost her 25-year-old son, Peter, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Community colleges have been receiving a lot of attention lately – from the White House Summit on Community Colleges to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Completion by Design to the Lumina Foundation’s Adult Degree Completion Commitment – and are seen as major partn

Keep up with the latest encore news. Follow us on Twitter: @EncoreCareers

What’s your encore story?

Can you tell it in 250 words or less?

Encore.org is joining with She Writes for a fun short essay contest.

“Tell your encore story so that others might see that something big is afoot; tell your encore story so that somebody reading it has his or her `aha!’ moment,” says She Writes founder Kamy Wicoff.

I’m not big on change. Most of us aren’t. That becomes a bigger problem the more choices we have and the more restless we feel. Second adulthood is about choices and restlessness and trying something new. But that means change, and many of us get stuck at the edge of the diving board.

Wondering how to use the popular job networking website LinkedIn to help you find your next job?

With more than 100 million members globally, LinkedIn is a tremendous tool for job searching today. This free, 40-minute recording takes you step-by-step through how to maximize your LinkedIn profile to build your network – and a bridge to your encore career.

With a 14-city book tour underway, Marc Freedman is spreading the word about a new stage of life between midlife and old age. And while he’s attracting attention from boomers searching for meaning during that stage, he’s also gaining interest from national media outlets looking to explore what Freedman calls the “encore years.”

More and more experienced Americans are finding ways to make a difference abroad – including in paid encore careers.

For people interested in teaching in China, there’s a new program to get them there.

The Teacher Ambassador Program will train and employ Americans as high school instructors – and ambassadors of the American style of teaching – in magnet schools in China.