Economic Development, Opportunity

Encore Careers: A Solution to Hard Times?

As I tour the country, introducing people to The Encore Career Handbook, folks everywhere are telling me they’re worried about the still-sputtering economy. If you’re in the job market, finding work can seem daunting, and a little scary.


2012 winners helping homeowners facing foreclosure, foster care children, low-income families, formerly incarcerated women, villagers in India

SAN FRANCISCO – Encore.org announced today the five winners of the 2012 Purpose Prize, an investment in people 60 and older who are creating fresh solutions to old problems.

This year’s winners, who each receive $100,000, include:

  • A pro bono lawyer who exposed massive foreclosure fraud and is now teaching other lawyers how to protect homeowners from unfair lending practices.

Meet the 2012 Purpose Prize Winners

If you’re looking for inspiration, here are five stories that reveal the power of social innovation – and the capacity of individuals in their encore careers.



Toni Maloney , Business Council for Peace
Co-founder and CEO
Business Council for Peace
Purpose Prize Fellow 2012

When Toni Maloney first visited the Kabul Women’s Garden, a shopping center in
Afghanistan’s capital city where only women can work or shop, it had no electricity. Kerosene stoves provided the heat for the 5-by-10-foot retail spaces.

The marketing executive watched as the businesswomen pulled product prices out of thin air, having no idea whether they were turning a profit.

Watch John Owens talk about his
experience as an Encore Fellow
sponsored by Intel and what he
hopes to accomplish with his Arizona
nonprofit host, The Centers for
Habilitation. (Click photo to play.)

Video length – 5:20

Obama Awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to Purpose Prize Fellow

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.


Six years ago Mark Goldsmith, winner of the 2008 Purpose Prize, founded Getting Out and Staying Out, a nonprofit program working to keep New York City’s young men out of prison for good. Recidivism rates – the proportion of people who return to prison within three years of their release – hover above 60 percent nationally. In New York City the rate is about half that.

An estimated 31 million people ages 44 to 70 are interested in transitioning to socially oriented encore careers, according to new survey findings from MetLife Foundation and Civic Ventures. But respondents’ answers suggest that about 40 percent are staying put because of financial problems.

Boomers apparently don't simply want to volunteer, they want to start and run their own nonprofits. In a recent study by Civic Ventures and MetLife Foundation, some 12 million boomers said they plan to start either a socially conscious business or a nonprofit during their "retirement" years. In other words, boomers plan to give back in a big way.

A new survey by MetLife Foundation and Civic Ventures estimates that 31 million people between ages 44 and 70 are interested in encore careers. But 40 percent of them say they haven't made the switch yet because they aren't secure enough financially.

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