Philanthropy beat: $100,000 for seniors activists

Do you know someone age 60 or older who is changing the world? Or at least making a real dent in a social problem?


Do you know someone age 60 or older who is changing the world? Or at least making a real dent in a social problem?

Consider nominating them for the Purpose Prize, awarded yearly to extraordinary seniors across the country. Application deadline for the five prizes, up to $100,000 each, is April 4.

There’s just one hitch. The activism must be part of an “encore career’’ — a career, paid or volunteer, launched at age 50 or later. It reflects the mission of the sponsoring nonprofit, the San Francisco-based Encore.Org, which helps older Americans find new and meaningful careers that benefit society.

Michelle Hynes, co-director of the prize program, said Encore looks for folks who have made measurable differences in their communities. Last year’s winners, for example, included an Indian businessman from the United States who brought drinking water to 10,000 people in impoverished Indian villages.

Another prize went to a Maine attorney who uncovered massive fraud among mortgage lenders during his work as a volunteer attorney, leading to a $25 billion settlement for homeowners facing foreclosure.

A third winner created a nonprofit that connects children in foster care to mentors and support from individuals who can’t adopt them but want to be part of their lives.

Encore is looking for innovation, documented impact, a compelling story and creative spirit.

Now in its eighth year, the prize is sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation and the Atlantic Philanthropies.

To date, no Minnesotans have won the prize. But several have been finalists. They include Andy Wells, a retired professor who founded Wells Academy in Bemidji, which trains economically disadvantaged Indians as machinists; Joel Kramer, founder of the MinnPost online newspaper (and former publisher of the Star Tribune); and Mark Skeie, a retired 3M manager who wrote the book “Mapping Your Retirement” and is now executive director of the Vital Aging Network in St. Paul.

For more information, go to www.encore.org.

 

Jean Hopfensperger 612 673-4511

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