Children & Youth

Who knew Sandra Day O’Connor was a second acter? The 81-year-old retired Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice gave a big pitch for her new passion at the 2011 Purpose Prize awards ceremony in Sausalito, Calif. She’s rebooting civic education through an online venture called iCivics.

Have you ever sat in an audience and said to yourself, "Wow. What have I ever done with my life?" Chris Farrell, economics editor of Marketplace Money, asks that question during an event honoring the 2011 Purpose Prize winners, recognized for their extraordinary contributions to society.

SAN FRANCISCO – Aspiranet, one of California’s largest social service agencies, is the first nonprofit in the nation to establish an internal Encore Fellows program, in partnership with the Civic Ventures’ Encore Fellowships Network. The inclusion of a fellow cohort of such experienced talent into Aspiranet is an innovative model for organizational effectiveness and change.

At age 50, social entrepreneur Jenny Bowen was just getting started. She started a nonprofit that is working with the Chinese government to improve the lives of thousands of orphans in China. Bowen has been honored for her work with the $100,000 Purpose Prize for Intergenerational Innovation, sponsored by AARP.

Purpose Prize Winners Recognized by Major Media

The 2011 Purpose Prize winners are making big news.

Since the five winners were announced November 3, media outlets from across the country have been highlighting the remarkable work that earned these social innovators the $100,000 award.


Twenty students from Montgomery Blair High School, in a Washington, D.C., suburb, sit in a circle and talk about their role models. It might sound like freshman orientation, or even a session with the school counselor, but actually, these students are members of the Africa Club, run by the African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation. Wanjiru Kamau, who created the foundation, has won a 2011 Purpose Prize for helping African immigrants transition to life in the United States.

A recent study shows that approximately one in four Americans between ages 44 to 70 are interested in starting their own small businesses or social ventures. The research, conducted by Civic Ventures, goes on to state that of this 25 percent of the age range, or 25 million people, more than one third have already begun their ventures, while more than half are planning to start within the next 5 to 10 years.

Each year, Civic Ventures awards The Purpose Prize to individuals over 60 who are combining their passion and experience for social good. The only grant of its kind in the nation, the prize awards $100,000 each to five people who advocate for new ways to tackle tough social problems.


Gerald L. Hill , Indigenous Language Institute
President, Board of Directors
Indigenous Language Institute
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

The doors of the Los Angeles County prison closed behind Gerald Hill in 1972 when as a college senior he was sentenced to 90 days following a protest against an art museum exhibit of the scalp of a Cheyenne Indian and a burial display using actual human skeletons. Hill’s first — and last — criminal conviction convinced him that Native Americans can be most effective from the right side of the justice system.

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.

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