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Nominate Your 50+ Hero for AARP Purpose Prize

Award celebrates those who use life experience to make a difference

Purpose Prize Celeste Mergen

Hayley Young

2017 Purpose Prize Awardee Celeste Mergens was recognized for launching the nonprofit organization Days for Girls International. More than 500 people have won the Purpose Prize or become Purpose Prize fellows.

En español | Do you know a person 50 or older who is using life experience to make a difference? Nominate them for the AARP Purpose Prize, the only national award in the United States that celebrates these people.

The prizes each come with $60,000 for winners to use to celebrate their achievements and broaden the scope of their work. In addition, AARP will select a class of fellows who will receive $5,000 each and have access to a number of supports and technical assistance. The deadline for nominations has been extended to March 31.

The prize was founded in 2005 by Marc Freedman, CEO of Since that time, the Purpose Prize has generated nearly 10,000 nominations and produced more than 500 winners and fellows. AARP became the new home of the prize in 2016.

“AARP Purpose Prize winners and nominees are role models. They are makers and doers who are out there creating new solutions that make the world a better place for people of all ages,” AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins said.

Purpose Prize winners have come from a wide variety of backgrounds. For example, 2014 winner Charles Fletcher was a telecommunications executive before retiring and eventually founding SpiritHorse, a global network of therapeutic riding centers serving children with disabilities for free.

"No matter how old you are, it's never too late to find your purpose," Fletcher said.

Last year’s prize awardees included Cynthia Barnett, the founder of Amazing Girls Science; Reid Cox, cofounder of online community iFoster; and Celeste Mergens, the founder of Days for Girls International. 

Nominees must be at least 50 years old and have started their work at age 40 or later to qualify. For more information, including links to the official rules and a FAQ, visit

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