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EUGENE, Ore. – Civic Ventures today announced that Eugene’s Nancy Sanford Hughes is one of five winners of its 2011 Purpose Prize, an annual $100,000 award for social entrepreneurs over 60 who are using their experience and passion to make an extraordinary impact on some of society’s biggest challenges. Now in its sixth year, the $17 million program is the nation’s only large-scale investment in social innovators in the second half of life.
“Nancy Hughes is making an extraordinary difference in the lives of thousands of people in Latin America,” said Marc Freedman, CEO and founder of Civic Ventures and author of The Big Shift (PublicAffairs Books). “It’s really good news that Purpose Prize winners like Nancy – and millions of others in encore careers – are turning personal passions and decades of experience into invaluable contributions across sectors, continents and generations, often through entrepreneurship.”
Hughes’ journey began after her husband’s death in 2001. A longtime stay-at-home mom now on her own, she yearned for purpose. So she volunteered to cook for a medical mission in Guatemala.
As she worked, thousands of people came for treatment – most of them injured by open fires in unventilated homes. Entire families suffered chronic coughs, respiratory infections and horrific burns. According to the World Health Organization, smoke exposure from traditional cookstoves and open fires causes more than 2 million premature deaths annually – twice as many as malaria.
Hughes, 68, was intent on finding a way to prevent those injuries. Since 2008, the organization Hughes founded, StoveTeam International, has helped local entrepreneurs manufacture and sell the affordable, fuel-efficient Ecocina stove. Portable, smokeless, cool to the touch and needing just a few pieces of kindling to cook a meal, the stove has replaced the traditional open cooking fire in more than 15,000 homes across Central America, reaching more than 90,000 people.
A colleague nominated Hughes for the award, and when informed of the honor, she said, “I feel humbled. I did not choose to do this work—it chose me. The recognition is great; it will enable us to leverage StoveTeam’s expansion and protect even more children and families.”
Hughes, the other four winners (see below) and 42 new Purpose Prize fellows will be honored at the 2011 Purpose Prize awards ceremony on December 1 in Sausalito, Calif. The approximately 300 attendees of the invitation-only event will hear from Purpose Prize judges, including NBC’s Jane Pauley and Sherry Lansing, CEO of The Sherry Lansing Foundation and former chair of Paramount Motion Picture Group. The 28 judges – leaders in business, politics, journalism and the nonprofit sector – chose the five winners from a pool of more than 1,000 nominees.
Funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies and the John Templeton Foundation, The Purpose Prize is a program of Civic Ventures’ Encore Careers campaign (www.encore.org), which aims to engage millions of boomers in encore careers combining personal meaning, continued income and social impact in the second half of life.
Short summaries for the other winners are below. Profiles, videos and photographs are online at www.encore.org/prize.
Jenny Bowen, 66, Half the Sky Foundation, Berkeley, Calif.
Partnering with the Chinese government to transform the care of hundreds of thousands of orphans in China, the vast majority of whom are girls
Randal Charlton, 71, TechTown, Detroit
Revitalizing the economy in Detroit by spurring entrepreneurship across generations
Wanjiru Kamau, 69, African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation, Washington, D.C.
Easing the transitions of thousands of African immigrant and refugee families and children by addressing mental health, academic and social needs
Edward Mazria, 70, Architecture 2030, Santa Fe, N.M.
Challenging architects, the building sector and policymakers to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions