This past week marked a milestone for Encore.org and a new beginning for the Purpose Prize – now the AARP Purpose Prize™ and now open for nominations.
A decade ago, we launched the Purpose Prize out of the conviction that older people not only comprised an important societal resource, but a powerful source of social entrepreneurship. We were convinced that experience and innovation, often portrayed as inimical, could go hand in hand.
Winning the Purpose Prize, we said, was the opposite of a lifetime achievement award. It was instead an investment in what social entrepreneurs in the second half of life would do next.
The John Templeton Foundation and Atlantic Philanthropies made a big bet on the Prize, providing significant financial resources and working with us on the design as well.
Despite much enthusiasm, the question remained whether there was, in short, a “there–there.” Working with Templeton and Atlantic, we’d built it – but would anyone actually come?
The initial returns were anxiety-inducing: a trickle of nominations at first, but by the end of the inaugural call for candidates, 1,200 nominations came in for the first five Purpose Prizes. Over 10 years, we received nearly 10,000 nominations, and 500 winners and fellows were honored – all demonstrating the fallacy of the idea that our best work is behind us.
Now the Purpose Prize moves to a much bigger stage – joining AARP’s extraordinary efforts to transform life after 50 and, in the process, realize the full potential of the aging society, now and for generations to come.
We couldn’t be happier to hand off the jewel that is the Purpose Prize, to an organization – 38 million strong and growing – that is transforming the second half of life under the extraordinary leadership of CEO, and former Purpose Prize judge, Jo Ann Jenkins.
Personally, I’m so honored to join the panel of judges for the AARP Purpose Prize and to have the continued joy of learning about the myriad ways Americans over 50 are creating a better future for this country and the world.