The projects proposed by the five finalists in the 2018 Gen2Gen Encore Prize competition all tap the talents of people 50+ to help young people thrive, and they all bring creativity and passion to the task. But beyond that, they couldn’t be more different.

  • Common Unity — the top vote-getter in public voting — pairs high school students with older mentors to help them prepare for life after high school.
  • Fostering Hope empowers and equips older volunteers from faith communities to help youth in foster families heal from trauma.
  • Nuns & Nones connects Sisters and spiritually diverse millennials to build a more just world.
  • Read to Me International’s Haku Mo’olelo program engages older volunteers to help incarcerated women write, illustrate and publish stories for their children (or grandchildren).
  • Seeing-i2i.com builds intergenerational bonds by engaging teens to tutor older adults in nonviolent Esports, like NBA2k.

Each of the finalists has won $10,000 — and a chance to win more.

On Nov. 14, all five social innovators will pitch their ideas in front of a live audience in Los Angeles, and Encore.org will announce a $50,000 winner selected by our panel of judges and a $10,000 prize awarded by the in-person audience. The event will be broadcast via Facebook Live.

You can read what each of the finalists prepared for public voting below. Click on the links to watch the finalists’ videos, offer assistance or donate to support their work.

Huge thanks go to the 110 applicants, 105 volunteer readers, 24 semi-finalists, 16 judges, 10,037 voters, and our two Encore Prize funders — the John Templeton Foundation and the MetLife Foundation.


 

Common Unity | Topeka, Kansas
Common Unity is a unique mentoring program for Highland Park High School students in Topeka, Kansas, pairing students with mentors over 50 who care about their success and believe in their potential to achieve their goals. Mentors help students learn life skills and apply for college. More importantly, they teach life lessons and stand behind students, wherever life takes them. Studies show that students have more success when a community pitches in to help, and allows them to grow together.

 

Fostering Hope | Colorado Springs, CO
We empower and equip older volunteers from faith communities to serve as “extended family” to foster families in both practical and emotional ways. We provide the kind of long-term relational and environmental support the child welfare system is not designed to provide, and which science says is essential to nurturing brains and lives after childhood abuse and neglect. We stay with kids from infancy well into life beyond foster care, adapting to their changing needs until they no longer need us.

 

Nuns & Nones | Washington, DC
A national network and grassroots movement of Women Religious (nuns) and millennials (who check “none” on the census box for religion), we seek new ways to share Sisters’ wisdom, steward their sacred spaces, and work for justice in an ever-more fractured world. Through local gatherings, shared justice work and spiritual practice, and updated apprenticeships into models for “prophetic community,” we strive to connect our generations and reimagine community life and justice work today.

 

Read to Me International Foundation | Honolulu, Hawaii
Our Haku Mo‘olelo program builds bridges that connect older volunteers with incarcerated women, and those women with their families. Volunteers work with inmates to help each write, illustrate and publish a children’s book. Women attend a “graduation” ceremony, where they read aloud and share their stories with family and volunteers. The completed books are then sent home. This new beginning plants the seeds of hope, love, and belonging.

 

Seeing-i2i.com | Gainesville, VA
Seeing-i2i.com, an Esports intergenerational video gaming program, helps financially challenged youth gain valuable college application and job experience by tutoring diverse older adults in esports, particularly NBA2k. In the first half of 2018 alone, 600 companies in 28 states created over 2,500 Esports jobs. By seeing-i2i, youth can be pioneers in this shifting sports world and land high paying Esports jobs, while simultaneously helping us work toward a gender and age-neutral gaming culture.

 

Published: October 1, 2018