Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Launch Pad

Civic Ventures, the non-profit think tank on boomers, work & social purpose that coined the term “encore careers” and sponsors the Purpose Prize, has started another contest called Launch Pad aimed at “helping people over age 45 turn creative ideas for solving problems in their communities into working solutions.” 

Online voting for the twenty-five finalists began yesterday.  The contest ends February 25th.  The five winners, who will be announced in early March, will each receive $5,000, plus resources and support from the larger community.

Click here to vote.   Even if you don’t care to select a winner, consider taking a moment to skim the following list of finalists and their pet projects.  You never know.  Maybe one of their ideas will spark one of your own.

David Buck, 51, Minneapolis, MN
Will work to expand SHiFT Midternships, a pilot that offers internships for people in midlife who need real work experience to help them transition to new jobs.

Michael Caldwell, 60, Chagrin Falls, OH
Will promote economic redevelopment in Cleveland’s inner-city neighborhoods by helping low-income people start businesses.

Esther Cantu, 68, San Antonio, TX
Will recruit volunteers serve as mentors for Spanish-speaking school-aged children who have not yet learned English.

Anne Cheung, 59, South Amboy, NJ
Will develop a Chinese Cancer Support Group for patients in the Chinatown area of Flushing, Queens, New York.

Robert Deissig, 65, New York, NY
Will provide free career transition services for U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers returning from deployments.

Cathy Elser, 61, Yonkers, NY
Will engage older adults in the fight against childhood obesity by using a program proven to increase healthy behaviors in children.

Rachel Emmer, 51, Evergreen, CO
Will help teach residents of Section 8 (government subsidized) housing about gardening and how to choose healthy foods.

Susan Evans, 68, San Francisco, CA
Will recruit and enroll retired nurses to teach healthy cooking classes to kids at Boys and Girls Clubs.

Ellen Freudenheim, 61, Brooklyn, NY
Will create a pilot program for low-income women in Brooklyn that uses text messaging on cell phones to communicate vital messages about pregnancy, AIDS and other health topics.

Anthony Genia, 68, Lauderdale, MN
Will develop a Native American youth entrepreneur training curriculum aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty on reservations.

Linda Grotberg, 66, Wimbledon, ND
Will work to make small farms sustainable by helping local farmers make homegrown fuel using straight sunflower oil.

Rita Hubbard, 52, Chattanooga, TN
Will teach baby sign language to low-income parents before their children (who are able to hear) can speak with the goal of increasing parent-child interaction and enhancing future school performance.

L. Patricia Ice, 57, Jackson, MS
Will help undocumented immigrants plan for the management of their property and the care of their family members who remain in the United States, in case of deportation.

Vicky Jekich, 52, Boise, ID
Will improve patient access, especially in rural communities, to creative arts therapy – which uses dance, music and other forms of artistic expression to improve physical and mental health.

Irene Martinez, 55, Orange, CA
Will work to break the cycle of violence and poverty in immigrant communities by teaching women to change the way family violence is perceived.

Lynn McGee, 57, Brandon, MS
Will establish Delta Community Health House Network, a cost-effective primary care delivery system designed to treat the underserved in their communities.

Nancy Fernandez Mills, 63, Stockbridge, MA
Will provide education in Spanish to local low-income Hispanics, with the goal of preventing diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension.

Milton Morgan, 72, Santa Barbara, CA
Will provide free Internet access and one-on-one computer instruction for fellow senior residents in affordable housing facilities.

Robert Morrow, 79, Stockton, CA
Will provide training to child care providers and agency outreach staff on how to identify and refer children with special needs.

Ron Moulton, 63, Cambridge, MA
Will create Project Managers for Good, which will match corporate project managers with nonprofit projects that benefit the developing world.

James Robinson, 47, Huntsville, AL
Will provide independent living services to homeless young people who may be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.

Rhonda Rundle, 60, Los Angeles, CA
Will recruit a corps of encore volunteer coaches to encourage public high school students to prepare for, apply to and enroll in college.

Shekinah Shakur, 57, Los Angeles, CA
Will recruit and train midwives and other childbirth experts in inner-city communities affected by high infant mortality rates.

Janine Vanderburg, 57, Denver, CO
Will provide training for retirees and others with corporate sales backgrounds to help them become nonprofit, campaign and community fundraisers.

Rod Wilson, 65, Lexington, KY
Will organize advocacy services for residents of assisted living, particularly those without family to advocate for their care.


  1. Wow - I just realized I'm soon to cross into the 45+ group...

  2. Time sure flies, doesn't it, Diane. I can't believe I'm almost 57. xoxo

  3. Every single one of these people inspire me! There is so much one person can do to make a difference. Thanks for this reminder!

  4. I felt the same way, Margiem. You're so welcome! :-)