Advocacy, Social Action, Policy

Nancy Sanford Hughes, the founder of StoveTeam International, has received a $100,000 national prize for her work. Hughes was one of five winners of the 2011 Purpose Prize, awarded to social entrepreneurs who are older than 60. The prizes are awarded by Civic Ventures.

Civic Ventures is a nonprofit dedicated to helping people find meaningful, purpose-filled work in the second half of life. Each year the organization selects five people over who have made extraordinary contributions in their encore careers focusing on solving critical problems in education, health care, the environment and more. The organization has announced its 2011 Purpose Prize $100,000 winners.

Life stages are artificial, argues Marc Freedman, the 53-year-old social entrepreneur dubbed “the voice of aging baby boomers” by The New York Times. “There was no adolescence before 1904,” Freedman points out before launching into an explanation of his nonprofit’s mission: creating institutions and public policies geared toward boomers who may be past retirement age but are by no means elderly.

Tough new economic realities have transformed career reinvention from a virtue into a necessity for millions of older Americans who aren't ready to retire or simply can't afford to quit working. Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of Civic Ventures, talks about how this phenomenon may – for some – lead to more personally meaningful work.

Retirement is no longer viewed as a brief period of rest at the end of life. It has become an integral element of the American dream, says Civic Ventures founder and CEO Marc Freedman, who has studied the cultural history of retirement. “People scrimped and saved and deferred gratification to get to it as soon as possible – not even 65 or 62, but in your 50s,” Freedman says. (This piece also appeared in The Fiscal Times.)

Oprah Winfrey Hails Purpose Prize Winners

Oprah Winfrey has her sights on two 2010 Purpose Prize winners. Margaret Gordon and Dana Freyer were recently showcased on Oprah.com for the extraordinary work they do in their encores.



Helen Karr
Elder Abuse Specialist

Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

For 25 years, Helen Karr managed beauty salons, where she heard countless stories from older women about how they were being financially abused by their children or caregivers – the same people who had been entrusted to look after their finances. Their painful stories struck a chord in her heart and compelled her to find a way to help.

“I knew I needed to become an attorney to be able to help financially exploited elder women in a legal manner,” she says.


Phillip Jackson , The Black Star Project
Executive Director
The Black Star Project
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

Raised by his grandmother in Chicago’s public housing, Phillip Jackson spent most of his childhood learning to hustle on 43rd St., moving through 11 Chicago public schools and dropping out of college. That was until a young philosophy professor mentored him, helping him turn his life around.


Esther Hyneman , Women for Afghan Women
Board Member
Women for Afghan Women
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

When Esther Hyneman retired after decades as an English professor, she decided she wanted to pursue an international career. Outraged by the rape, murder and silencing of women under the Taliban, Hyneman became interested in advocacy work to help the women in Afghanistan achieve basic human rights – to safety, to an education, to work.


Vivian Lowery Derryck , The Bridges Institute
President and CEO
The Bridges Institute
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

While spending a summer in Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa, in college, Vivian Derryck witnessed firsthand how girls like the daughters of her neighbor Fatamatou worked in the fields while boys attended school.

The experience inspired her long career in international development – during which she worked closely with African government leaders, nonprofits and the U.S. Agency for International Development – to try to implement strong education and health systems through citizen participation and good governance.

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