Children & Youth

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.

They're game-changers, innovators, all past 60 and making a difference in their communities and the world. Meet the five winners of the 2011 Purpose Prize – $100,000 awards given to outstanding social entrepreneurs.

And the 2011 Purpose Prize Winners Are…

Some have called The Purpose Prize the “genius award for retirees.” This year's winners exemplify the spirit of the $100,000 award – the country's only large-scale investment in social innovators in the second half of life.

The 2011 winners are:

New York Times Explores Purpose Prize Winner’s Passion

For years Friends of the Children, founded by Purpose Prize winner Duncan Campbell, has attracted attention and praise.

And the kudos keep coming: The New York Times just showcased the organization – which pays mentors to work with a small number of disadvantaged children for as long as 12 years – for its impact.

Wanjiru Kamau , African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation
African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation
Purpose Prize Winner 2011

When Wanjiru Kamau, a university administrator and adjunct professor, met the asylum seekers – victims of the Rwandan genocide and relatives of her colleagues at Penn State – she saw that some were illiterate and bewildered by modern city life.

Seeing them took her back to her own childhood, growing up in rural Kenya without running water or electricity, carrying heavy loads on her back. How would they survive in a complex society like the United States?

Jenny Bowen , Half the Sky Foundation
Founder and CEO
Half the Sky Foundation
Purpose Prize Winner 2011

One Saturday morning in 1996, screenwriter Jenny Bowen saw a photo in The New York Times that stunned her: It was the face of a little Chinese girl, one of thousands abandoned and languishing in the country’s understaffed and under-resourced welfare institutions. She and her husband Richard “felt compelled. We had to do something. We had to act.” By the end of the day, they decided to adopt a Chinese child.

John Sage , Bridges To Life
Founder and Executive Director
Bridges To Life
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

When John Sage’s sister was murdered 18 years ago during a robbery gone wrong, he learned well the devastating fallout of violent crime on both victims and their families, and the desire for vengeance. But Sage chose a different path with Bridges To Life, the faith-based nonprofit the former real estate developer founded in Houston in 1998. The organization aims to reduce crime and the recidivism rate of released inmates.

Caitlin Ryan , Family Acceptance Project
Family Acceptance Project
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

At age 50, Caitlin Ryan decided it was time to pursue a doctorate in public policy. A social worker who pioneered community AIDS programs in the 1980s, she was acutely aware that many in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community had complicated relationships – or none at all – with their relatives.

With a doctorate in hand, Ryan quickly found inspiration for what to do next. Moved by a remorseful mother who had thrown her lesbian daughter out of the house never to see her again, Ryan started the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University in 2002.

Ed Moscovitch  and Barbara Gardner , Bay State Reading Institute
Bay State Reading Institute
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

On a trip to Alabama in 2004, former Massachusetts state budget director Ed Moscovitch observed a revolutionary approach to help children from poor homes learn to read by providing their teachers with data, coaching and sustained support.

Soon after, Moscovitch sat down with Barbara Gardner, former associate commissioner of school readiness in the state’s Department of Education. They etched out a plan to do the same in Massachusetts. They launched the Bay State Reading Institute (BSRI) in eight schools in fall 2006.

Donald Lombardi , Institute for Pediatric Innovation
Founder and CEO
Institute for Pediatric Innovation
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

Imagine a 2-pound baby in a hospital neonatal intensive care unit with a breathing tube secured to her body with adhesive tape. Later, when the nurse removes the tape, the infant's fragile skin tears. Or picture a child with hypertension who gags on the foul-tasting concoction he must take every day for the rest of his life. He refuses to take the drugs, and his treatment stops.

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