Today is Labor Day and the American civilian labor force participation rate now stands at 63.4 percent as of the end of July. (See Bureau of Labor Statistics) Part of that group is composed of a growing number of people over 60 starting 2nd careers. This group of aging Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1956), who make up nearly 25% of the American population, are considered the most educated generation of Americans in history. Instead of putting all of this experience and education to waste, many of them have started new careers or “second acts for the greater good” to share their knowledge and skills with those who are struggling to acquire them.
“Don’t Leave a Legacy; Live One”, Marc Freedman 2012 (from Harvard Business Review)
“Encore” (previously called Civic ventures) is trying to build a movement to inspire mid-life and retired Americans to pursue second careers for the greater good of their communities. Their dream is to produce, together, a windfall of talent to help solve society’s greatest challenges, from education to the environment, health care to homelessness. Thanks to the experience dividend now being realized around the world, many of them are taking the time and energy to live a legacy, instead of just leaving one.
Marc Freedman is CEO and founder of Encore.org (formerly Civic Ventures). He spearheaded the creation of Experience Corps (now AARP Experience Corps), mobilizing Americans over 55 to improve the education of low-income children, and The Purpose Prize, an annual $100,000 award for social innovators in the second half of life. (read more about Marc in his Blog)
Freedman has been described by The New York Times as “the voice of aging baby boomers who are eschewing retirement for … meaningful and sustaining work later in life,” while The Wall Street Journal states, “In the past decade, Mr. Freedman has emerged as a leading voice in discussions nationwide about the changing face of retirement.”
He is the author of The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife, which The New York Times calls “an imaginative work with the potential to affect our lives and our collective future.” His earlier books include Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life (praised as “wonderful” and “highly recommended” by Library Journal); Prime Time: How Baby Boomers Will Revolutionize Retirement and Transform America (hailed by The New York Times as an “inspiring, informative, mind-opening book”); and The Kindness of Strangers. Widely published and quoted in the national media, Freedman is a member of The Wall Street Journal’s group “The Experts.” He is also the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including an Ashoka Senior Fellowship. Fast Company magazine selected him three years in a row as one of the nation’s leading social entrepreneurs. In 2010 The NonProfit Times picked Freedman as one of the 50 most influential individuals in the nonprofit sector. That same year he and Encore.org (then known as Civic Ventures) received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University. In 2012 AARP The Magazine named Freedman one of “The Influentials,” the 50 people over 50 “affecting your life – and your future.” A high honors graduate of Swarthmore College, Marc has an M.B.A. from Yale University and was a Visiting Research Fellow of Kings College, University of London. He lives with his wife and children in the San Francisco Bay Area.
To single out those workers over 55 who have given back to their communities, Marc’s non-profit organization invented a prize called the “Purpose Prize” to honor them. Watch the following video to understand more about what he and others are trying to achieve:
The Purpose Prize®, now in its eighth year, is the nation’s only large-scale investment in people over 60 who are combining their passion and experience for social good. $100,000 is given to each nominee as an award to recognize how they have solved and made a dent in tough social problems. Created in 2005 with funding from the John Templeton Foundation and The Atlantic Philanthropies, this prize highlights the importance of experience and proves yet again how people can succeed at any age. Passion and dedication is more of an inner trait that can be felt at any age and it is this passionate fire within people which sparks them to bring about changes tapping into a whole life experience to set it in motion.
BY THE NUMBERS
Since its inception seven years ago, The Purpose Prize® has garnered:
- More than 7,000 nominations
- Close to 400 winners and fellows
- Hundreds of news stories in The Wall Street Journal, Time, NPR and many other outlets
- Millions of dollars in new resources for winners to expand their innovative projects. Purpose Prize winners have leveraged every dollar they’ve been awarded by a factor of eight. (from Encore.Org)
Jane Pauley, a well-liked TV journalist on NBC’s Today show who has won many awards went on to become a host on the AARP’s (American Association for Retired People) Life Reimagined TODAY series on NBC’s Today show, describes her own encore experience in the following video clip:
And finally, Purpose Prize winner Don Coyhis talks about how his search for an encore led him to develop a substance abuse recovery program that taps the power of Native American culture, tradition and community. :
Because people are living longer and healthier lives, the question comes up…what are you going to do for the rest of your life? This movement proves that more and more people want to use their time, talent and experience not only to benefit themselves but more importantly to benefit others. Question: Will the 80 million plus Baby Boomers make the verb “to retire” obsolete?