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Every year the AARP Purpose Prize™ award honors 5 exceptional individuals who have tapped their wealth of experience to foster enduring and innovative positive social impacts. After a rigorous review process, recipients of this prestigious award each receive $50,000 to celebrate their achievements and to hopefully help broaden the scope of their work. Included within the AARP Purpose Prize is the Andrus Prize for Intergenerational Excellence. This award celebrates the legacy of AARP’s founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus. Dr. Andrus was an innovative educator and social change agent. The Andrus Prize for Intergenerational Excellence recognizes work that brings multiple generations together for a better community.

Rules
 

Q: Where can I find more information including official rules, eligibility, odds, and prize disclosures?

You can find this information here.

 

Eligibility and Criteria for Selection


Q: What makes someone a strong candidate for the AARP Purpose Prize?

We are looking for everyday people who do extraordinary things with their life experience to create social change. Consider nominating someone (or yourself) who is:

  • Tackling a major social problem
  • At least 50 years old 
  • Started this work at the age of 40 or later
  • A legal resident or a US citizen living abroad, or a resident of a US territory
  • Not involved in a project that is exclusively religious or sectarian. People working in faith-based settings that have a broader social mission are eligible and encouraged to apply.


Q: What are the characteristics of a potential AARP Purpose Prize winner?

Applications will go through a rigorous review process based on the following criteria:

  • Innovation: A new approach to an old or emerging problem, or a creative way of scaling up or expanding a promising approach
  • Creative or entrepreneurial spirit: The nominee can demonstrate a commitment as a visionary or pioneer in their field of work
  • Impact: Clear documentation of impact, whether through an external evaluation or ongoing internal efforts to track outcomes or indicators of success
  • Future focus: A trajectory for the applicant’s career and work that shows promise for the future; i.e. potential for the next five years
  • Experience-based: Clear connection between the applicant’s life experience and the work at hand, whether through the problem being solved, the skills being applied to the problem, or the life experience or insights that led to the work
  • Integrity: Evidence that candidates are highly ethical individuals who will make an excellent AARP Purpose Prize representative and who can be role models for others who are using their life experience to make a difference


Q: Can the candidate’s work be either paid or volunteer?

Yes, the candidate can operate in a paid or unpaid capacity — working as a volunteer, receiving a stipend or paid a salary.  Some AARP Purpose Prize applicants receive income for their current work; others donate their time.  


Q: Does the candidate have to have started a new organization?

No. We strongly encourage nominations for people who are using innovative approaches and systems to substantially transform existing programs or organizations. This can be in the nonprofit, public or private sectors. However, simply applying strong management skills to improve an organization’s performance is not sufficient to be selected.


Q: Does the candidate have to be working for a nonprofit?

No. Candidates can work for different kinds of organizations: nonprofits, government agencies, social purpose ventures, hybrid organizations that mix elements of for-profit and nonprofit, or profit-making ventures. As long as the work is leading to positive social change and has had a significant impact at the local, regional, national or global level, it is eligible.


Q: Can more than one person be nominated for a single award if all are responsible for the accomplishments?

Yes. However, each individual in the partnership must meet all the criteria and must share substantively in the transformation or creation of the program/organization.


Q: Can the candidate be working on issues outside the US?

Yes. If so, on the application, make sure to select 'International' geographic scope. That indicates that the candidate’s work primarily benefits people living outside the US borders.


Q: What issues are appropriate for the AARP Purpose Prize?

While AARP does not limit the types of social impact issues that will be considered, it will strongly consider candidates who work in areas of particular concern to AARP; specifically:

  • Innovative workplace and employment practices
  • Caregiving
  • Healthy living
  • Financial resiliency, stability, and savings
  • Livable communities (e.g. local housing, transportation, age-friendly communities)

Past AARP Purpose Prize winners have been involved in issues as diverse as:

  • Civic engagement and community development
  • Environment
  • Children and youth
  • Economic opportunity
  • Arts and culture
  • Peace and security rights


Q: Is a candidate still eligible if he/she has received recognition or honors in his/her local community or field?

Yes. However, in general we are looking for individuals who have not been widely recognized outside their geographic area or their field of work.  


Q: Are there types of innovation that cannot be considered for the AARP Purpose Prize?

Creative endeavors that do not include social impact work will not be considered. Also, we cannot evaluate the merit of certain types of innovations.  Here are some examples:

  • Our review team is unable to evaluate scientific or technological inventions, although, of course, these can be important social innovations. Therefore, an inventor would need to describe how he/she has spread the use of an independently recognized invention resulting in a measurable social impact. 
  • Similarly, an academic researcher or fine artist would need to demonstrate that he/she has also been involved in using research or art to address a significant social problem with demonstrated impact.


Q: Are only AARP members eligible?

No. Anyone who meets the criteria listed above is eligible.


Q: Why does the candidate’s work need to start after age 40?

The AARP Purpose Prize is not a lifetime achievement award. Rather, it is meant as an award to celebrate how individuals are using their life experience and creativity to make a difference on important social issues.


Q: How recent does the work need to be?

As noted above, the candidate needs to be at least 50 years old at the time of the application deadline and have started the work at age 40 or older.  


Q: What factors make someone INELIGIBLE for the AARP Purpose Prize?

The following categories of people are not eligible:

  • AARP staff 
  • AARP Board Members
  • AARP consultants and vendors who have received remuneration during a 12-month period preceding the application deadline
  • Individuals who work at organizations that share a board member with AARP
  • Members of the AARP Purpose Prize review panel or jurors
  • AARP volunteers
  • Family members (including domestic partners) and business associates of any individuals in the categories listed above
  • Current grantees
  • Elected Officials

NOTE: Applicants selected for consideration as finalists must disclose any current or prior financial relationship or other support they have received from AARP, AARP Foundation, AARP Services, Inc., or members of the AARP Purpose Prize panel of reviewers or jury. Other support includes but is not limited to: technical assistance, promotion and advocacy. A current or prior relationship, financial or otherwise, does not immediately disqualify an applicant, but such factors will be considered in finalizing a diverse pool of winners. Similarly, AARP Purpose Prize reviewers and jurors as well as staff and Board Members of all AARP entities are required to disclose any current or prior relationship to any AARP Purpose Prize candidates. Volunteers and staff are not allowed to nominate themselves or family members. AARP reserves the right to disqualify any applicant at any time and for any reason should AARP determine that the application does not properly represent the organization/program’s mission, goals and policies.


Q: Who makes the final selection of winners?

An independent panel of jurors recommends a final slate of winners.  Jurors are distinguished national leaders selected for their experience and judgment. Based upon the jury recommendations, the AARP CEO determines the final winners.


Other Prize Information
 

Q: What is the monetary award and how can it be used?

Each of the AARP Purpose Prize winners will receive $50,000.  There are no restrictions on how the money may be used by the winners.  Most past winners have used the money to further the work of their organizations, but that is not required.  Our hope is that the funds are a down payment on future work for the greater social good.

Note: All taxes associated with the acceptance and/or uses of cash awarded are the sole responsibility of individual winners. Cash awarded will be reported by AARP on an IRS Form 1099. It is further the policy of AARP: That all AARP Purpose Prize winners of cash awards be advised to consult with their own tax professionals and/or legal counsel to ascertain the tax impact of receiving such cash awards, whether such applicable winners do or do not elect to divert their awards to an eligible non-profit organization. 


Q: What else do the winners receive?

Winners receive:

  • The opportunity  for their stories and work to be promoted across a variety of media channels
  • Media training
  • Access to a network of social innovators 
     

Q: What are the obligations of the winners to AARP?

Willingness to share your personal story with others is critical. We seek individuals who will make an excellent representative of the AARP Purpose Prize and who can be role models for others who are using their life experience to make a difference.


Q: Why and when was the AARP Purpose Prize created?

The AARP Purpose Prize was created in 2006 by Encore.org (then called Civic Ventures) to recognize the power of older adults to tackle the world’s most pressing problems.  In the past ten years, nearly 10,000 PP nominations were received, almost 500 winners and fellows were recognized and awarded over $5 million in prizes to social entrepreneurs working in fields as diverse as early childhood education to eradicating homelessness.  

In 2016, the prize came to AARP from Encore.org.  Under the leadership of AARP’s CEO, Jo Ann Jenkins, AARP is committed to giving the AARP Purpose Prize an even bigger ‘stage’ to tell the story of remarkable people using their life experiences and creativity to have a lasting social impact.