Civic Ventures – a think tank on boomers, work and social purpose and publisher of – created the 2011 Launch Pad contest to help budding social entrepreneurs in the second half of life get a start on their dream encore careers.

More than 1,000 people entered the contest, demonstrating a deep interest among those over 45 in helping to solve a serious social problem in their community or in the world. More than 30,000 votes were cast for the 25 finalists. The top five vote-getters each won $5,000, plus an invitation to the 2011 Encore Careers Summit and support from the community.

Launch Pad is part of an effort to build a movement to help people transition from midlife careers to encore careers that combine social impact, personal fulfillment and continued income – purpose, passion and a paycheck.


Anne Cheung
Create a cancer support group for Chinese speakers.
Anthony Genia
Develop entrepreneurial training for Native American youths.
Linda Grotberg
Help local farmers make sunflower oil biofuel.
James Robinson
Provide services to homeless LGBT youths.
Janine Vanderburg
Train corporate salespeople in nonprofit fundraising.


David Buck
Offer midlife internships to teach job skills.
Michael Caldwell
Help small businesses in the inner city.
Esther Cantu
Recruit bilingual mentors for Spanish-speaking schoolchildren.
Robert Deissig
Provide career help to returning veterans.
Cathy Elser
Engage people 55-plus to fight against childhood obesity.
Rachel Emmer
Teach residents of low-income housing how to grow healthy foods.
Susan Evans
Engage retired nurses to teach kids about healthy cooking.
Ellen Freudenheim
Use text messaging to increase health awareness.
Rita Hubbard
Teach low-income parents baby sign language to enhance interaction.
L. Patricia Ice
Provide counsel to undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Vicky Jekich
Improve access to arts therapy, especially in rural areas.
Irene Martinez
Engage immigrant women in the fight against domestic violence.
Lynn McGee
Establish a health care network for the underserved.
Nancy Fernandez Mills
Provide health training to low-income Hispanics.
Milton E. Morgan
Teach low-income seniors how to use the Internet.
Robert Morrow
Teach child care providers to identify special needs children.
Ron Moulton
Connect project managers with nonprofits focused on the developing world.
Rhonda Rundle
Counsel public high school students on the path to college.
Shekinah Shakur
Reduce infant mortality with trained midwives and doulas.
Rod Wilson
Organize advocacy services for residents of assisted living facilities.