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Meet the 2012 Purpose Prize Winners

Bhagwati (B.P.) Agrawal


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.

I’m proud to introduce this year’s $100,000 Purpose Prize winners. Each of them identified a significant, seemingly intractable social problem. Guided by experience, drawing on creativity and anchored in pragmatism, they set out to find solutions. In their 60s, they are changing the world, and with it perceptions of what is possible for millions of others flooding into the second half of life.

Bhagwati (B.P.) Agrawal (pictured above), 68, brings safe drinking water to six villages in India, home to 10,000 people. He’s doing it by collecting rain.

Susan Burton, 61, a former drug addict, was in and out of jail for 20 years. Now she helps formerly incarcerated women in Los Angeles stay out of jail.

Judy Cockerton, 61, winner of this year’s Purpose Prize for Intergenerational Innovation, sponsored by AARP, creates innovative ways people can help foster kids in Massachusetts – including serving as “honorary grandparents.”

Thomas Cox, 68, a pro bono lawyer in Maine who exposed massive fraud among mortgage lenders, teaches other lawyers how to protect homeowners from unfair lending practices.

Lorraine Decker, 64, is taking her know-how as a financial planner to help low-income families in Houston earn more and to prepare teens for the financial rigors of adulthood.

Read their stories, and learn also about the 35 new Purpose Prize fellows – finalists for The Prize – at www.encore.org/prize. Watch short videos of the winners here.

Nominations for the 2013 Purpose Prize will open in January. I hope this year’s winners and fellows will inspire you to nominate someone you know who is helping change lives.