Frequently Asked Questions

What is The Encore Prize?

The Encore Prize, offering $100,000 in cash prizes, coaching and a year of ongoing support, is looking for the next generation of programs and products that bring the talent of 50+ adults to social problems. Our first challenge: To help kids at risk.

Applications for the 2017 competition will open on March 27 and a group of five ventures will present their ideas at a regional convening of encore leaders and foundation program officers in Boston on October 16.

How is The Encore Prize connected to the Generation to Generation campaign?

The Prize’s first challenge is part of the Generation to Generation campaign — a national effort to connect the over 50 population to young people who could greatly benefit from more support. By participating in The Encore Prize you will be joining the campaign, and pledging to support future generations.

What do we mean by older people working with youth?

There are many forms this could take, but we are really interested in models in which large numbers of people over the age of 50 might use their life experience and expertise to help large number of youth. It doesn’t have to be a one-on-one relationship, but it could be.

What about a program where young people help older people?

We are looking for ideas that highlight the value of older adult experience in relationships between generations. It doesn’t have to one-way though. If you have an idea for the generations working together where both benefit, we’d love to hear about it.

How do we define "young people" for this challenge?

We would consider any application that addressed children from birth through college age or young adults as appropriate for this challenge. For example, college access or completion, or helping young adults find work would be valid problems to have older people help solve.

How important is it that the solution target children or youth "at risk?"

We would like to see at least some of the semifinalists and finalists addressing populations of children or youth who are at particular risk in our country. We will also be considering other populations where older adult connections can help children and youth thrive. If your idea isn’t particularly focused on “at risk” populations, don’t hesitate to submit them.

Who is eligible for The Encore Prize?

You should be able to answer “yes” to the following questions to be eligible:

  • Does your project utilize the talents of adults 50 and older to improve the lives of youth?

  • Is your project in an early stage or period of significant growth?

  • If accepted, will you be able to participate in four online workshops and provide supplemental information requiring at least six hours of your time from May to July?  If you become a finalist, can you present your idea on October 16 in Boston?

You SHOULD NOT apply for The Encore Prize if:

  • Your project is already being done successfully in another geographic region.  We are looking for new ideas or new ways of connecting people (not replications of existing programs in new geographic areas).

  • Your project has a political agenda and is not bipartisan.

  • Your project is intended to promote a specific faith or is exclusively sectarian.  (However, we do welcome and encourage faith-based organizations that have a broader social mission to apply.)

Can people who won The Purpose Prize apply?

Yes, we strongly encourage any former Purpose Prize winners or fellows who are working with kids or with older adults, or who just have a great idea to apply.

How established does an organization need to be to apply?

An innovative idea can be submitted by an individual or group of individuals who have not yet formally incorporated an organization, as well as an established organization. However, to be considered for subsequent stages of the process, the applicant will need to demonstrate a track history of success in taking an idea from the conceptual stage to execution or have connections to other organizations that will collaborate in taking the project beyond the conceptual stage.

The accelerator process taking place in May and June will allow others to see your idea (if you choose to make it public) and even offer to support or join your team. So, even if you don’t think you have the resources now to make bring your idea to life, you may be able to find partners who can strengthen your team.

Are international applications accepted?

At this time, The Encore Prize is focused on the U.S. Applications from international organizations or individuals are welcome but they must address ways to connect U.S.-based older adults with U.S.-based youth at risk. Future challenges may be open to applicants with an international focus.

However, as long as your idea includes U.S. based children and older adults, you won’t be penalized if it also includes international participants.

Can a collaborative (or multiple organizations) apply?

Yes. And you may be able to find a collaborator in the process of participating in the accelerator who can broaden your reach or bring new capabilities to your team.

Can non-profit and for-profit organizations apply?

Yes, The Encore Prize is open to applications from individuals, non-profits, for-profits or hybrid models. In fact, you don’t even need to be incorporated in any form to apply. Individuals are welcome to submit.

What makes for a winning idea?

Ideas will be judged on the following criteria:

Encore Fit – venture utilizes encore talent in well-designed roles that have potential to be used widely to address the social problem.  Winners join us in becoming leaders of the encore movement, demonstrating the power of encore talent.

Innovation – venture consists of a new approach that hasn’t been tried before or a critical improvement to an existing model.

Organizational/applicant strength – organization/applicant demonstrates ability to carry out project successfully.  Good track record or clear support from other organizations/partners.  Understands team assets and gaps.  

Scalability/Replicability – venture has capacity to grow to produce significant social change.

Financial Model – venture has a clear plan for financial sustainability utilizing diverse and repeatable streams of revenue such as earned income, and public and private funding.

Diversity – ability to engage people and organizations representing diverse communities, particularly those in which children and youth are at particularly high risk, for example high levels of gun violence or families being separated due to immigration status.

Why are we investing in new programs?

While many companies are investing in innovations to extend the lifespan, few are developing innovative ways to give purpose to those added years. Funding to fill this innovation gap is scarce. The goal of The Encore Prize is to spur individuals and organizations across a wide spectrum of disciplines and settings to design new pathways and opportunities to fill this gap.

How new does the program need to be?

Programs that have already begun operating are welcome to apply. Programs that have been around for many years, but have a new idea or a significant improvement on an older one should submit their new or improved idea, rather than applying with a program that has already achieved some level of success or scale. There’s no such thing for us as an organization that is too new or too old. It’s the freshness of the idea that we will be looking at along with the potential to scale.

One of the questions, in describing "innovation" asks whether there are comparable programs? What are you looking for?

We would like you to think about whether someone else is doing something very similar, in your community or elsewhere. If so, is there something that makes your idea stand out? At a later point in the process, you’ll be asked to list some groups that might be doing something similar and how your idea differs from theirs. So thinking about this when you apply will come in handy later on.

What does the criteria that the idea be scalable or replicable mean?

Since we are looking for new ideas, we don’t expect you to already have a high level of scale or have been replicated in other areas. That would actually be antithetical to the intent of this prize. Rather, the idea should have the future potential of engaging lots (eventually 100s or even 1000s) of older adults and helping the lives of 100s or 1000s of young people. You’ll need to convince us that that many older adults will be interested and that within 5 or 10 years your program could be big enough to have a significant impact. Either that or that the idea is one that others could pick up and replicate in other geographic areas.

What about the criteria that the program have a strong financial model?

Again, we don’t expect you to have funding yet. (It’s not a point against you if you do, of course.) But if the program is to grow, we expect that you will need more resources than a $50,000 Encore Prize. You should have an idea of how much money you’ll need in two years and five years and where that money could come from. It could be philanthropy if you think you’re program will appeal to donors, but you might also consider whether there are fees that you might charge, or products that you might sell. We want to invest in programs that will succeed and future sources of revenue will be part of future success.

Should I consider applying?

We want to encourage anyone with a creative idea about engaging older adults with kids in a powerful way — and the commitment to bring this idea to life  – to apply. 

We welcome applications from all groups including: start ups, established encore groups or youth-serving organizations, groups of friends, faith-based congregations or interdenominational groups, city, county or state governments, or coalitions of individuals and nonprofits in a single city, neighborhood associations, teams of MBA students, solo entrepreneurs, and for-profit businesses.

Once you choose to participate in the two-month accelerator that follows applying, you’ll have the opportunity to refine your ideas and even find others who can partner with you to give your team the capacity to turn your great idea into a powerful product or program.

Is there a way to provide a resume, letters of support or any other supporting material with my application?

The initial application phase doesn’t not provide a way to supply additional supporting information. Once you are in the accelerator process however, you’ll have an opportunity tell us more about yourself and your team and upload supporting information.

Should I reference research that supports my idea and, if so, how?

If there is research supporting the need or the approach you’re suggesting, feel free to mention it. If there is room, include a link to the research or something else to help us track it down. This is not required however.

Can I submit more than one idea?

Yes, an applicant can submit up to 3 ideas. However, you’ll want to focus on one idea as you complete the workbook in the accelerator process. It may be that one of your ideas emerges as better than another – maybe it will attract support from others – and your final submission should be your best one.

What happens after I apply?

After submitting an application, in order to be eligible for a cash award and other resources, applicants will:

  • Be invited to join our online  accelerator, running from May through June. The Accelerator is our name for a series of four online trainings (plus one introduction to the process),  a few written exercises suggested by our experts to help you refine your idea,  and supplemental information that you’ll provide to help us evaluate the strength of your idea and your team. Each participating team will be provided with online forms to record your responses to assignments made by the faculty during the Accelerator. All sections must be completed by the end of June for the first round of selection.
  • Based on a review of the materials submitted, 15 semifinalists will be selected. These semifinalists will have their ideas compete in public voting along with peer review by your cohort of semifinalists. Each semifinalist will be interviewed by Encore staff and paired with an Encore coach to refine submissions for the next round of selection at the end of August.
  • Selection will be based on a combination of online voting, peer review by the cohort and interviews with Encore staff. From that process five finalists will be selected. These five teams will receive one-on-one follow-up coaching on making a fast pitch offered by Andy Goodman of The Goodman Center.
  • Finalists will travel to Boston on October 15 to present their idea to an audience of Encore leaders and foundation program officers on October 16, 2017. Two $50,000 prizes will be awarded, one based on voting by a panel of judges and one by a combination of votes by the finalist cohort and audience voting at the event itself. (The same finalist cannot receive  both prizes.)
  • Finalists will receive a year of customized, ongoing support by

Do we need to present our workbook in any visual or artistic way?

The workbooks will simply be an online form that you can use to restate your ideas as they evolve, provide additional information as requested, and make notes about what you learned from the exercises. No artistic or visual design skills will be needed.

If you are selected as a semifinalist, you will need to create a PowerPoint presentation for the panel of judges. Familiarity with PowerPoint will be required and some level of visual presentation skills will be helpful. This isn’t an artistic competition though.

Does it cost anything to be involved in The Encore Prize?

There is no charge to apply for The Encore Prize. Finalists will be reimbursed up to $1,000 for travel expenses to the Boston meeting. If the travel costs for you (or any teammates) exceeds $1,000, you will be required to cover the difference yourself.

If I become a semifinalist, how will I be matched with an Encore Coach?

Applicants selected as semifinalists will take an inventory of strengths and weaknesses in different areas. Based on this inventory, will match you with one or more coaches who have expertise in the areas where you indicate you would like help.

What time commitment is required to participate in The Encore Prize?

The time commitment will depend on how far you advance. 

All applicants who choose to join the accelerator will participate in five one-hour online trainings (the first one will just explain the process, the others will be offered by experts and provide substantive knowledge) and prepare follow-up written exercises, which could require six or more hours to complete.

Semifinalists, a group of the 15 top ideas, will receive up to three additional hours of personalized coaching and two more hours of online cohort meetings to get feedback from your peers. Peer feedback and coaching will be incorporated into a final presentation sent to the panel of judges. Semifinalists will participate in public voting and will be invited to mobilize their networks to support their idea. We also hope that all semifinalist will participate in surveys from after this round of The Encore Prize is completed, so that we can find out what happened with your idea.

Finalists, a group of the 5 top ideas, will receive up to an hour of one-on-one coaching on your pitch by Andy Goodman. This group will travel to Boston Oct 15-16 for on-site training, cohort voting, and presenting your pitch to encore leaders and funders. We will also be offering a year of ongoing consultation following the awarding of The Encore Prizes. We hope you will respond to periodic requests for information about your project to help us evaluate whether the support provided has helped bring your idea to life.


Are applicants required to attend all webinars?

While attendance to the webinars is not mandatory, follow up exercises will be assigned based on the material presented during the webinars.  Some applicants who have been working extensively in the encore and youth fields (for example Gen2Gen partners) may be able to answer the questions without attending the webinars.

However, we strongly recommend attending the webinars!  We’ve put together an all star roster of experts with fascinating information to share. (All webinars will be recorded and posted, so if you can’t attend the live session, you can listen in later.)

What will I get out of my participation?

Depending on how far you advance, applicants will benefit from:

All Applicants who choose to be part of the accelerator will receive

  • Information from experts on design process, best practices regarding recruiting and designing roles for encore talent, effective messaging for social causes and pitching to funders.

Semifinalists will receive all of the above, plus

  • Up to three hours of personalized coaching by experts.
  • Peer feedback and support on specific areas of challenge to improve your project.
  • The opportunity to pitch your ideas to the public, gain visibility, and win support to advance to the next level.

Finalists will receive all of the above, plus

  • One-on-one coaching on your pitch by Andy Goodman
  • Opportunity to win one of two $50,000 cash prizes
  • High-level visibility of your idea at the Encore Pitch event in Boston in front of encore leaders and foundation program officers
  • A year of customized, ongoing support from

Winners will receive all of the above, plus

  • One of the two cash prizes of $50,000 that will be awarded
  • Media coverage

How many ventures will be selected as semifinalists and finalists?

Fifteen ventures will be selected as semifinalists. Five will become finalists.

Will you help semifinalists or other applicants connect to funders?

Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources to connect every great idea with an interested funder. We expect that some funders, as well as the media, may be interested in the 15 top ideas we select as semifinalists, but we cannot guarantee a connection to funders.

What will happen at the event in Boston?

Each finalist will have three minutes to make a fast pitch for their idea. (Individualized communications coaching will be provided in advance by Andy Goodman.) You may use slides if you choose. No cash prizes will be based on your pitch, although foundation program officers, potential other investors, and encore leaders will be at the pitch event. Cash prizes will be determined prior to the pitch, based on the strength of your idea as determined by (1) a panel of expert judges, who will award a single $50,000 prize and (2) a second $50,000 prize, based on a vote of the entire group of finalists, who will select one other member, and voting by the audience at the pitch event. The same finalist is not eligible to receive both prizes.

Who needs to make the pitch in Boston?

Anyone on your team can make the pitch. Since it’s only three-minutes though, we suggest that just one person do this. It doesn’t need to be the person who coordinates the effort or submits the idea. That is up to you to decide.

Who will be attending the Boston event?

The Boston event will be a Northeastern regional convening of Encore leaders. The event is scheduled the day before the opening of the annual meeting of Grantmakers in Aging and attendees of the GIA event will be invited to attend the Boston pitch event.

Will my travel be covered to attend the event in Boston?

Organizations traveling to Boston will be reimbursed up to $1,000 for airfare and lodging. Encore will cover meals. If your travel exceeds $1,000, you will need to cover the difference. Travel logistics will be handled individually by participants although suggestions for accommodations will be provided.  

How many people from my organization can attend the Boston event?

Up to two people from each organization can attend.

What is the amount of The Encore Prize?

The winner of the Judges Award will receive $50,000.  One other finalist will be awarded $50,000 based on the vote of the cohort members. The winner of the Judges Award is not eligible to win the Cohort Award.

Where does the money for the cohort prize come from? Do the finalists have to contribute to it themselves? and its funders are providing all $100,000 for the two $50,000 prizes. The idea of the cohort prize isn’t that the cohort pays for it. It just that those five finalists will vote for the one among them whom they think has the best idea and prospects for success.

I missed the informational webinar on the Prize. Was it recorded?

Yes, you can view the recording or slides.