Purpose Prize

Purpose Prize winner Randal Charlton used his second career to help entrepreneurs in Detroit get their dreams off the ground. He is now inspiring others to turn retirement into a new beginning. Watch his compelling story in this video.

A social worker for over four decades, Hubert Jones has dedicated his life to the people of Boston. The Boston's Children's Chorus is a dynamic group of young people from the suburbs and the inner city, singing together at a high level. In 2010, Jones won the Purpose Prize for his inspiring work.

To mitigate his financial risks as a serial entrepreneur, Purpose Prize winner Randal Charlton streamlined his life and expenses at age 60. He rented a small apartment, had no credit card debt and built a house only when he could afford it. He drives a 10-year-old car and has no problem wearing business suits, ties and shoes from a secondhand store.

Purpose Prize winner Adele Douglass, 65, launched her encore career in her mid-50s by drawing from the passion she had for animals and creating a nonprofit promoting the humane treatment of farm animals. She cashed in her 401(k) to help make the transition. Recent research from MetLife Foundation and Civic Ventures found that finances play a major obstacle for people who want to switch to encore careers.

Why Older Entrepreneurs Have an Edge

Editor's note: This essay first appeared on the Harvard Business Review's website. Find, and comment on, the original here.


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.

Boaz and Ruth in Richmond, Va., has restored abandoned buildings and homes, generated employment opportunities and changed lives. The neighborhood has seen crime rates drop by 61 percent since the organization's arrival a decade ago. "Eighty percent of the buildings here were boarded up," says founder Martha Rollins, a 2006 Purpose Prize winner. "We're trying to fill the emptiness."

Edward Moscovitch and Barbara Gardner have been named Purpose Prize fellows for their work in founding and advancing the Bay State Reading Institute. The nonprofit works with 37 Massachusetts elementary schools helping teachers find new, innovative approaches in teaching children to read.

In what might be a surprising trend, a Kauffman Foundation report notes that boomers make up a rising share of entrepreneurs.That's not surprising to Detroit-based Purpose Prize winner Randal Charlton. He says said the trend is being driven by people living longer and boomers' genuine interest in civic ventures.

The recession's toll on jobs and retirement savings has kept a lid on the number of people transitioning to socially conscious careers in the second half of life. To make such moves more financially feasible, Civic Ventures supports midlife internships and encore fellowship programs, including a new initiative by Intel. The group also has also started the annual Purpose Prizes, $100,000 awards to five people over 60 who devote their encore careers to social causes.

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