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AARP Sponsors First Purpose Prize for Intergenerational Innovation

Winner Works to Transform Conditions for Hundreds of Thousands of Orphans in China

November 3, 2011

AARP Media Relations, 202.434.2560

AARP Sponsors First Purpose Prize for Intergenerational Innovation

Winner Works to Transform Conditions for Hundreds of Thousands of Orphans in China

Washington, DC—AARP today announced its sponsorship of an award for one of five winners of The Purpose Prize®. Created by Civic Ventures, the award is the nation’s only large-scale investment in people over 60 who are combining their passion and experience for social good.

This year, for the first time, one of the five prizes – The Purpose Prize for Intergenerational Innovation – will be sponsored by AARP. This prize is being awarded to Jenny Bowen, a former screenwriter and independent filmmaker who partnered with the Chinese government to transform the care of the more than 800,000 orphans there – 95 percent of whom are girls.

Bowen founded Half the Sky in 1998 in order to give something back to her adopted daughters’ home country of China and to the many children living in institutions. Half the Sky’s five programs now provide nurturing family-like care for thousands of children of all ages. Bowen’s organization is one of only 16 nationally recognized foreign non-governmental organizations in China and the first to ever form a partnership with the Ministry of Civil Affairs – which oversees the orphanage system.

Bowen, who later adopted a second daughter from China, says, “Every single day for the rest of my life I’ll be able to wake up knowing that good is being done for children – that what I’m doing brings out the best in people.” From infant care to preschool programs, free medical services for disabled children to financial support for foster families caring for AIDS orphans, Half the Sky has had an impact on more than 60,000 Chinese children.

“We are so moved by Jenny Bowen’s steadfast commitment to help tens of thousands of Chinese children and families who may have otherwise been overlooked or forgotten,” said Barb Quaintance, senior vice president for volunteer and civic engagement at AARP. “She embodies the very spirit of service that is part of AARP’s mission to lead positive social change among people 50+ and for generations to come.”

In addition to Bowen, other winners of the $100,000 Purpose Prize include:
* 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.

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

The 28 judges – which include AARP CEO A. Barry Rand and other leaders in business, politics, journalism and the nonprofit sector – chose the five winners from a pool of more than 1,000 nominees.

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.

Nominations for the 2012 Purpose Prize are now open. For more information and to nominate, go to

About AARP
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.1 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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.

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