Poverty, At-Risk Populations

Jan Lepore-Jentleson , East End Community Services
Executive Director
East End Community Services
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

One afternoon in 1997, Jan Lepore-Jentleson, then the building inspection superintendent for Dayton, Ohio, found herself utterly discouraged.

“I remember deciding that I was fed up wasting my time being a bureaucrat, pushing paper and accomplishing little of value for the people living in Dayton’s poorest neighborhoods,” she says.

It was at that moment that she decided to quit her job and launch a nonprofit community development organization spur change.

Gail Johnson Vaughan , Mission Focused Solutions
Executive Director
Mission Focused Solutions
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

During the 20 years she ran an adoption agency in California, which has the highest number of foster children in the nation, Gail Johnson Vaughan was routinely dismayed by the assumption – common among professionals in the foster care system – that finding permanent homes for teens was nearly impossible.

“I found myself thinking that my job was keeping me from doing my work – using my experience, connections and learned wisdom to influence transformative systemic improvements in child welfare,” Vaughn says.

Kathryn S. Hanson , ALearn
Founder and CEO
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

When her son was in high school, Kathryn Hanson, a chief marketing officer in Silicon Valley, was taken aback by statistics that showed his low-income classmates were rarely enrolled in advanced placement courses. Low-income and minority students have the lowest high school graduation rates in Santa Clara County, Calif., with only 70 percent of Latino students graduating from high school, and of those, only 26 percent have met the requirements to even apply to a public university.

Betty Jo Gaines , Bright Beginnings Inc.
Executive Director
Bright Beginnings Inc.
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

Toward the end of her 30-year tenure at the Washington, D.C., Department of Parks and Recreation, Betty Jo Gaines noted an increasing number of homeless families with children. Known for her warmth and passion for families, she started a childcare program in response. So it’s no surprise that once she retired from the department, she became executive director in 2001 of Bright Beginnings Inc., which provides education, therapeutic, health and family support services for homeless children and their families.

Purpose Prize Winners to Receive Rare Presidential Honor

This year President Obama is awarding the Presidential Citizens Medal to just 13 people. And three of them – picked from 6,000 nominees – are Purpose Prize winners.

“This year’s recipients of the Citizens Medal come from different backgrounds, but they share a commitment to a cause greater than themselves,” Obama said in a statement. “They exemplify the best of what it means to be an American.”

Paul Chuk , Sustainable Schools International
Cambodia Program Director
Sustainable Schools International
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

A native Cambodian who worked and raised a family in the U.S. for almost 30 years, Paul Chuk knew that educating children in rural areas had long been a problem in Cambodia, a country still recovering from the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. Because of teacher absenteeism or unaffordable fees, 80 percent of Cambodian children drop out of school between third and sixth grades. So when Chuk lost his job as an ATM technician in 2008, he returned to Cambodia to help.

Andy Wells , Wells Technology and Wells Academy
President and CEO
Wells Technology and Wells Academy
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

Andy Wells grew up on a dairy and grain farm on a reservation in northern Minnesota. A poverty-stricken area home to the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, it lacked both good schools and a thriving job market. Wells nevertheless managed to get a master’s degree and forge a successful career in industrial technology, first as an engineer, then as a professor at Bemidji State University and finally as founder of Wells Technology, which designs and manufactures aeronautic, robotic and automation technology for clients in 54 countries.

In Search of Purpose, Passion and a Paycheck: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life

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.

Start: 06/29/2011 - 4 p.m.
End: 06/29/2011 - 6 p.m.

Three or more decades of well-funded leisure may remain an option only for increasingly narrow sections of society. For the rest, the final chapters of life are poised to change dramatically. “We can’t stuff a 21st-century life span into a life course designed for the 20th century,” warns Civic Ventures founder and CEO Marc Freedman in his new book, The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife.

Boomers – the very people the Peace Corps was created to engage back in the 1960s – are looking for another round of service with the same motivations that attracted them four decades ago: to give back, to have an adventure, to acquire experience and to gain the credentials and credibility to launch a new chapter of life and work. Why not give them a second chance to serve – a kind of “encore” service for those who are past middle age but far too active to be considered old?

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