Purpose Prize

The Purpose Prize honors outstanding career-changers over age 60 who find new ways to solve tough social problems. The annual winners, who receive up to $100,000 apiece, have demonstrated a passion to change the world — and they have the experience to do it. Encore Careers, a nonprofit think tank focused on older people, created the Purpose Prize in 2006. For the last two years, AARP sponsored one of the awards, the Purpose Prize for Intergenerational Innovation.

meet some
past winners


Jenny Bowen

Jenny Bowen 2011 Purpose Prize winner

Do You Want to Change the World?

Jenny Bowen did it. She quit Hollywood to help China's orphans. Watch

Randal Charlton

Randal Charlton 2011 Purpose Prize winner

Putting the Big Mo Back in Motor City

Entrepreneur Randal Charlton is helping to put Detroit's economy back in high gear. Watch

Nancy Hughes

Nancy Sanford Hughes 2011 Purpose Prize winner

Saving Lives One Stove at a Time

Nancy Hughes had a better idea: deliver safe, low-cost stoves the world over. Watch

Wanjiru Kamau

Wanjiru Kamau winner of 2011 Purpose Prize

Helping Immigrants Find Their Way in America

Wanjiru Kamau draws from her own experience to introduce Africans to a new life. Watch

Edward Mazria

Edward Mazria 2011 Purpose Prize Winner

Assembling a Toolbox for Green Buildings

Architect Edward Mazria helps others increase energy-efficiency, decrease pollution. Watch


Allan Barsema

Allan Barsema reaches out

Helping the Homeless

In launching Carpenter's Place, an outreach center for the homeless in Rockford, Ill., Barsema found his "life calling." Watch


Marcy Adelman; the Aldermans; Duncan Campbell

Interviews with some of the winners

Adelman's Openhouse project advocates for affordable, LGBT-friendly senior housing. Through the Peter C. Alderman Foundation, Elizabeth and Stephen Alderman honor their son, killed on 9/11, by bringing mental health treatment to trauma victims around the world. Campbell's Friends of the Children matches mentors with at-risk children for 12 years, no matter what. Listen

Judith Broder

Healing America's Heroes

Judith Broder's Soldiers Project provides therapy for veterans who have post traumatic stress disorder. Watch


James Smallwood


Keeping a Promise

In 1989 Smallwood, a carpenter, made a promise to God that if he could sober up, he'd devote his life to helping others. Read


Arlene Blum

Good Chemistry

Arlene Blum's Green Science Policy Institute tests furniture for potentially hazardous chemicals. Listen

Barbara Cervone

What Kids Can Do

Barbara Cervone helps empower young people by giving voice to their stories through books, videos and the Internet. Read

Jay Davidson

One Day at a Time

Recovering alcoholic Jay Davidson founded The Healing Place to help those grappling with addiction. Listen

Catalino Tapia

Cultivating The Next Generation

Cultivating the Next Generation

Tapia's Bay Area Gardener's Foundation gives scholarships to economically disadvantaged Latino students. Read

Photos and video footage of The Purpose Prize® winners are copyright © Civic Ventures. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Illustration showing people in a community

Your local AARP state office or chapter is a good place to find opportunities to help others.

AARP State Offices

Local AARP Chapter


Good Things You Can Do Yourself!