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En españolYou live. You learn. You give back. No one knows this better than people ages 50 and older, who have spent decades accumulating a wealth of knowledge that only life experience can bring. Armed with this wisdom, they are a powerhouse of innovation tackling some of the greatest societal challenges of our time and inspiring others to do the same. Through their diverse organizations, programs, and initiatives, they give back to their communities with a generosity of spirit that is at once impossible to match and inspiring to others. They are living their lives to the fullest so we can live ours.

Through this important annual award, AARP celebrates a new story of aging—one full of meaningful impact and limitless possibilities.

The AARP Purpose Prize award is a national award in the United States that celebrates people 50 and older who are using their life experience to make a difference. Through the Purpose Prize award, AARP celebrates the creativity, innovation, and inspiration that life experience brings. Up to five Winners who have founded a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) non-profit organization will win $50,000 for their organization to honor the Winner’s achievements. They will also have access to a number of technical assistance supports and resources to help broaden their organizations’ impact. The Winners of the AARP Purpose Prize award will also have the opportunity to enter a second portion of the awards program called the AARP Inspire award where the general public will vote to select one (1) AARP Inspire Award Winner among the five (5) previously selected AARP Purpose Prize Award Winners.

In addition to selecting five (5) Winners, AARP also recognizes other outstanding applicants by designating up to ten (10) Fellows from the AARP Purpose Prize award applicants. Fellows’ organizations will receive $10,000 each and the Fellows will also have access to a number of technical assistance supports and resources.

Applications go through a formal, structured review process, including review by a prestigious jury of national leaders who have used their life experience for good.

All selected Winners will be subject to the final approval of an AARP Executive.

Below are answers to additional questions about the AARP Purpose Prize award.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

We are looking for people who have founded 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) non-profit organizations doing extraordinary things by tapping their life experience to make a better future for people of any age. Your organization doesn’t have to have a big budget or a large team to be a strong candidate.

Because we believe that life experience can change the world, you must be at least 50 years old and have started your work at the age of 40 or later to qualify. See official rules for more details.

We are not looking for people who have simply applied strong management skills to improve an organization’s performance, i.e. doing the job they were hired to do and doing it very well. This should also not be viewed as a lifetime achievement award. We are looking for people who saw a problem, created a solution and are still actively engaged in their work.

Here are the review criteria we use to assess the applicants’ organizations:

Impact (30 points): Clearly documented impact of the population you serve, this could be through external evaluation and/or internal efforts to track success.

Execution (25 points): How the non-profit you founded is structured, staffed, and funded. What strategies are in place to successfully implement and sustain the work that you do?

Personal Story (20 points): Is there a connection in your own life that drew you to this work and compelled you to make a difference.

Innovation (15 points): New approach to an old or emerging problem, or a creative way of building on an existing idea so that it reaches more people.

Equitable Social Purpose (10 points):  Clearly documented steps to imbed the concepts of diversity, inclusion equity and equality in your organizational structure to support marginalized communities

In the event of a tie, tied entries will be re-judged based on the same criteria listed above and the Round Winner will be determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion. Applicants agree to the Official Rules and to the decisions of the AARP Reviewers and Jurors and the AARP CEO, which shall be final and binding in all respects.  Award of a prize to any Round Winner will be subject to verification of that Round Winner’s eligibility and compliance with these Official Rules.

Yes, but each person in the partnership must meet all the criteria and they must demonstrate how they have each contributed significantly to the work. No more than two (2) individuals may apply and a primary and secondary applicant must be designated within the one (1) application submission.

Yes, we do accept applications from people whose work primarily benefits people living outside U.S. borders, but you must be a U.S. citizen residing in one of the fifty (50) United States or the District of Columbia and the 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) non-profit organization you founded has its principal place of business in the United States or the District of Columbia.

We do not limit the types of social impact issues that will be considered. Below are examples of relevant topics/issues:

  • Intergenerational work (opportunities for different generations to come together to share their experience, knowledge, and skills)
  • Rethinking the workplace (jobs, work environments, alternative approaches)
  • Caregiving and caregiver resources (support for vulnerable populations and the people who care for them)
  • Public Health (protecting and improving the health of people and their communities by promoting healthy lifestyles, food and nutrition, disease prevention, mental health, etc.)
  • Healthy living (food and nutrition, brain health, physical fitness, mental health etc.)
  • Financial health (financial stability, resilience, economic opportunity, etc.)
  • Hunger (food insecurity, waste, distribution, etc.)
  • Affordable housing (safe, well-managed, and affordable housing and services)
  • Social connections (isolation among vulnerable community members)
Other general areas include:
  • Civic engagement and community development (helping people be active participants in building and strengthening their communities)
  • Environmental issues (combatting the challenges facing the planet)
  • Children and youth (helping kids and young people reach their full potential, in school settings and elsewhere)
  • Arts and culture (using art and culture as tools to engage communities in positive change)
  • Peace and security rights (establishing or preserving justice and equality by peaceful means)
  • Homelessness (addressing the needs of homeless populations)
  • Veterans (providing services for veterans, advocating for veterans’ rights, empowering veterans)
  • Animal protection (ensuring animal welfare, promoting animal companionship with vulnerable populations)

Innovations that are exclusively religious or sectarian will not be considered. However, applicants working in faith-based settings that have a broader social mission are eligible and encouraged to apply. See official rules for additional details.

Anyone who meets the criteria listed above is eligible, regardless of their AARP membership status. AARP Membership is not required to apply.

Because we believe that life experience can change the world, you must be at least 50 to apply and have started your work at the age of 40 or later to qualify. Important note: The AARP Purpose Prize award is not a lifetime achievement award. It celebrates people who are currently using their life experience and creativity to make a difference on important social issues.    

An applicant’s work needs to be taking place at the time of the application.

The following categories of people are not eligible:

Officers, directors, and employees of AARP (“Sponsor”), its subsidiaries, affiliates, advertising/promotion agencies, and/or their affiliates, assigns, agents, vendors or representatives (hereinafter referred to collectively as “Sponsor & Others”), and all other persons or entities associated with the development, administration, judging, promotion, execution of this Purpose Prize Contest are not eligible to apply. AARP-appointed volunteers and staff and their immediate family members are not allowed to apply. Former AARP-appointed volunteers and staff and their immediate family members may apply only after a seven (7) year grace period.  Additionally, past Purpose Prize and AARP Purpose Prize Winners, past Fellows from the previous two (2) years of AARP Purpose Prize classes, current AARP or AARP Foundation grantees, elected officials, individuals involved in a project that is exclusively religious or sectarian, individuals that work for organizations that share a board member with AARP and members of the same household and immediate families, (e.g. parents, children, spouse, siblings) are not eligible. See official rules for more details.

An independent panel of jurors selects the final Winners subject to the final approval of an AARP Executive. Jurors are distinguished national leaders selected for their experience and thought leadership.

Due to the volume of high-caliber applicants, AARP recognizes up to 10 Fellows to complete each year’s class. The founded 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations of the Fellows will receive $10,000 each and will also have access to a number of organizational supports and resources. 

The AARP Inspire Award Contest will commence once the five (5) Winners of the Purpose Prize Contest have been selected. The five Winners be entered into a public voting contest where one (1) AARP Inspire Award Contest Winner will be selected among the five (5) previously selected Purpose Prize Contest Winners that meet the criteria of (1) Impact, (2) Personal Story and (3) Innovation, after the public voters evaluate each entry based on their video recorded responses to the following question which correspond with the selection criteria:

1. Impact: What kind of results are you seeing that your organization is having among the families/communities it serves?

2. Personal Story: What was the moment, event or experience that sparked your passion to create a new solution to a social problem?

3. Innovation: How is the work your organization is doing different from others doing the same work or is your organization’s work unique?

The AARP Inspire Award Winner will win an additional $10,000 for his or her Founded Non-Profit.

More details about the AARP Inspire Award Contest for the 2024 class of winners will be available at in late September 2023. There will be a three-week voting period for the Inspire Award.

No. Applicants must have founded a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) non-profit organization with its principal place of business located in the United States in good standing in its state of origin and tax exemption under the Internal Revenue Code at the time of Applicant’s submission and throughout the Purpose Prize Contest selection process (“Founded Non-profit”).

Awards and Commitment

Each AARP Purpose Prize Winner’s founded  501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations will receive $50,000. Each AARP Purpose Prize Fellow’s founded 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization will receive $10,000. Our hope is that the funds will be used for future work towards the greater social good.

Note: All taxes associated with the acceptance and/or uses of cash awarded are the sole responsibility of individual Winners’ designated organizations. Cash awarded will be reported by AARP to the IRS. It is further the policy of AARP: That all AARP Purpose Prize Winners’ and Fellows’ designated organizations that will receive the cash awards are advised to consult with their own tax professionals and/or legal counsel to ascertain the tax impact of receiving such cash awards.    

The individual Winners and Fellows receive:

  • The opportunity for their stories and work to be promoted across a variety of media channels
  • Membership in the 2021 AARP Purpose Prize “class” of honorees -- a peer community of learning
  • Yearlong individualized support to help further organizational goals
  • Inclusion in the full AARP Purpose Prize community network

NOTE: Fellows are eligible to reapply to the AARP Purpose Prize award after a two-year period

  • Willingness to share your personal story with others is critical. We’re looking for individuals who will make compelling ambassadors of the AARP Purpose Prize award and who can be inspiring role models for others who are using their life experience to make a difference
  • Participation in the annual AARP Purpose Prize celebration event held online or in Washington, DC
  • Participation in a midyear convening held online or at AARP’s National Office in Washington, DC