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Five $100,000 Purpose Prizes Awarded to Americans Making an Extraordinary Impact in their Encore Careers

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2011 Winners Work to Create Jobs, Fight Climate Change, Help Immigrants in the U.S. and Improve the Lives of Orphans, Women and Children in China, Latin America

SAN FRANCISCO – Civic Ventures today announced the 2011 winners of its Purpose Prize.

Five social entrepreneurs over 60 will receive $100,000 each for using their experience and passion to make an extraordinary impact on some of society’s biggest challenges.

Now in its sixth year, the $17 million program is the nation’s only large-scale investment in social innovators in the second half of life. The winners include:

  • A San Francisco Bay Area screenwriter, who adopted two daughters from China in her 50s, then found a way to partner with the Chinese government in efforts to transform the care of 800,000 orphans there, 95 percent of whom are girls.
  • A serial entrepreneur who has worked to revitalize Detroit’s economy by leading a business incubator to help new businesses grow.
  • An Oregon woman who fights a top killer of children in developing nations by producing and distributing low-cost, safe, fuel-efficient cookstoves in Latin America.
  • A woman in Washington, D.C., who is working to ease the transitions of thousands of African immigrants and refugees.
  • A Santa Fe, N.M., architect challenging the building sector – perhaps the largest contributor of greenhouse gases – to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions.

“While Purpose Prize winners are helping to solve a wide range of pressing social problems, they have one thing in common,” said Marc Freedman, CEO and founder of Civic Ventures and author of The Big Shift (PublicAffairs Books). “They – and millions of others in encore careers – are turning personal passions and decades of experience into invaluable contributions across sectors, continents and generations, often through entrepreneurship.”

Next week, Civic Ventures will release data from a new survey revealing that a large percentage of those between the ages of 44 and 70 are interested in starting their own businesses or nonprofit organizations.

The winners and 42 new Purpose Prize fellows will be honored at the 2011 Purpose Prize awards ceremony on December 1 in Sausalito, Calif. The approximately 300 attendees of the invitation-only ceremony will hear from Purpose Prize judges, including NBC’s Jane Pauley and Sherry Lansing, CEO of The Sherry Lansing Foundation and former chair of Paramount Pictures’ Motion Picture Group.

The 28 judges – leaders in business, politics, journalism and the nonprofit sector – chose the five winners from a pool of more than 1,000 nominees.

This year, for the first time, one of the five prizes – The Purpose Prize for Intergenerational Innovation – will be sponsored by AARP.

Funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies and the John Templeton Foundation, The Purpose Prize is a program of Civic Ventures’ Encore Careers campaign (, which aims to engage millions of boomers in encore careers combining personal meaning, continued income and social impact in the second half of life.

Short summaries for all winners are below. Profiles, videos and photographs are online at

The winners are (in alphabetical order):

Jenny Bowen
, 66, Half the Sky Foundation, Berkeley, Calif.

Winner of The Purpose Prize for Intergenerational Innovation, sponsored by AARP

When Bowen, a screenwriter, saw a photo in The New York Times in 1996 of a starving girl in a Chinese welfare institution, she took immediate action. Within 18 months she and her husband had adopted a 20-month-old girl named Maya from Guangzhou, China. Maya couldn’t walk or talk, but after a year of loving care, she was a happy, healthy child. In 1998 Bowen launched Half the Sky Foundation to radically transform the way China cares for its 800,000 orphans. Today the organization operates in 51 Chinese cities, providing infant care, preschool programs, free medical services for disabled children and financial support for foster families caring for AIDS orphans. So far, the group has improved care for more than 60,000 orphans.


Randal Charlton, 71, TechTown, Detroit
In his lifetime, Charlton has bought and sold 14 companies, worked as a journalist, tended dairy cows for a Saudi sheik, started a jazz club and consulted for a world bank. For four years, he served as executive director of TechTown, a business incubator aiming to recruit local entrepreneurs to revitalize Detroit’s economy. Charlton transformed TechTown from a nearly empty industrial building with few resources into a thriving hub, currently supporting 250 companies. More than 2,200 entrepreneurs have received training at TechTown, which has helped clients raise $14 million. On November 1, Charlton will transition from leading TechTown to focusing his expertise on BOOM! The New Economy, a TechTown-affiliated venture that offers training, one-on-one mentoring and internships to people over 50 exploring second acts.

Nancy Sanford Hughes
, 68, StoveTeam International, Eugene, Ore.

Hughes, a stay-at-home mom, was at a loss after her husband’s death in 2001. Yearning for adventure and purpose, she volunteered to cook for a medical mission in Guatemala. As she worked, thousands of people came for treatment – as many as 80 percent of them injured by open fires in unventilated homes. Entire families suffered chronic coughs, respiratory infections and horrific burns. According to the World Health Organization, smoke exposure from traditional cookstoves and open fires causes more than 2 million premature deaths annually – twice as many as malaria. Hughes was intent on finding a way to prevent those injuries. Since 2008, Hughes’ organization, StoveTeam International, has manufactured and sold the affordable, fuel-efficient Ecocina stove. Portable, smokeless, cool to the touch and needing just a few pieces of kindling to cook a meal, the stove has replaced the open cooking fire in more than 15,000 homes across Central America, reaching more than 90,000 people.

Wanjiru Kamau, 69, African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation, Washington, D.C.
When Kamau, a former Penn State University administrator and adjunct professor, met survivors from the Rwandan genocide, she saw that some were illiterate and bewildered by modern city life. Seeing them took her back to her own childhood in rural Kenya, growing up without running water or electricity and carrying heavy loads on her back. An expert in mental health and intercultural communication, she had the credentials to help. So in 2000 she decided to quit her job, withdraw $10,000 from her retirement account and move to Washington, D.C., home to many African immigrants, to start the African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation. The organization has since provided services – including mentoring, tutoring, assistance with human trafficking and domestic violence cases, and mental health care – to more than 6,000 immigrants from 45 countries.

Edward Mazria
, 70, Architecture 2030, Santa Fe, N.M.

An award-winning architect in Santa Fe, Mazria had a 40-year record of innovation and advocacy in sustainable building. But even he was surprised when in 2002 his analysis of U.S. government data revealed that the building sector consumes approximately half of all energy production and causes about half of all greenhouse gas emissions each year. In 2003, Mazria founded Architecture 2030 to change those practices. The group issued the 2030 Challenge – a set of benchmarks for reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment (buildings, homes and other man-made structures) to “carbon neutral” by 2030. The American Institute of Architects, U.S. Conference of Mayors, U.S. Green Building Council and National Governors Association immediately adopted the challenge. Legislation followed. Mazria will soon release the 2030 Palette, a global set of comprehensive guiding principles, which will be translated into multiple languages for application internationally.


About Civic Ventures (
Civic Ventures is a think tank on boomers, work and social purpose. The organization introduced the concept of encore careers, which combine meaning, continued income and social impact. The Purpose Prize, funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies and the John Templeton Foundation, is a program of Civic Ventures.

About The Atlantic Philanthropies (
The Atlantic Philanthropies are dedicated to bringing about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Atlantic makes grants through its four programme areas – Ageing, Children & Youth, Population Health, and Reconciliation & Human Rights – and through Founding Chairman grants. Programmes funded by Atlantic operate in Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States and Viet Nam.

About the John Templeton Foundation (
The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality. The Foundation supports research on subjects ranging from complexity, evolution, and infinity to creativity, forgiveness, love, and free will. It encourages civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians and between such experts and the public at large, for the purposes of definitional clarity and new insights. The Foundation’s vision is derived from the late Sir John Templeton’s optimism about the possibility of acquiring “new spiritual information” and from his commitment to rigorous scientific research and related scholarship. The Foundation’s motto, “How little we know, how eager to learn,” exemplifies its support for open-minded inquiry and its hope for advancing human progress through breakthrough discoveries.


Ageing grantee, Civic Ventures Purpose Prize Winner Wanjiru KamauCivic Ventures is an Atlantic grantee through the Ageing Programme in the United States where strengthening the voice and social action of older adults is a key area of strategic focus.



Learn More

> Visit the Purpose Prize website

> “Like” the Purpose Prize on Facebook

> Follow them on Twitter at @encorecareers

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Civic Ventures, Purpose Prize