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Social Capitalists: Civic Ventures

43 entrepreneurs who are changing the world
2007 Social Capitalist Winner

Civic Ventures

San Francisco, CA
Year founded: 1997
President: Marc Freedman
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Civic Ventures sees the aging of America as an opportunity to create a society that makes full use of its experience to meet its greatest challenges. The first of 77 million baby boomers turned 60 this year. They are on the front edge of the largest, healthiest, best educated population of Americans ever to move through and beyond their fifties. They are pioneers in a new stage of life, spanning the decades between the end of a midlife career and the onset of true old age. Neither young nor old, they represent an extraordinary pool of social and human capital—and research shows they want to do work that serves a greater good.

Civic Ventures, a think tank and program incubator, works to spur a new marketplace of powerful opportunities for older adults to help solve social problems as volunteers, employees, and entrepreneurs. Civic Ventures was founded by social entrepreneur Marc Freedman, author of “Prime Time: How Baby Boomers Will Revolutionize Retirement and Transform America” (PublicAffairs Books). Freedman’s newest book, “Encore: How Baby Boomers Are Inventing the Next Stage of Work,” will explain that the current movement of tens of millions of sixty-somethings into a new phase in their working lives constitutes one of the most important social trends in this country in nearly half a century. The book, to be published in the spring of 2007, will kick off a national effort to promote ideas, policies, and practices that can facilitate these encore careers.

The Civic Ventures program portfolio includes:

*The Purpose Prize, which provides five awards of $100,000 and ten awards of $10,000 to social innovators over 60 who are taking on society’s biggest problems. It’s an investment in people like Robert Chambers, who was so appalled to see fellow car salesmen celebrate after ripping off poor, rural car buyers that he created Bonnie-CLAC, a nonprofit to help low-income people buy new cars at low-interest rates and leave poverty behind. (

*Experience Corps, a national service program for people over 55—people like Naomi Baskin, who left behind 25 years as a real estate broker to find work with greater meaning. Now an Experience Corps tutor in San Francisco, Baskin says, “I can tell you unequivocally that I have at last found my passion.” Today more than 2,000 Corps members in 19 cities serve as tutors and mentors to children in underserved public schools where they help teach children to read and develop the confidence and skills to succeed in school and in life. (

*The BreakThrough Award, now in its first year, which provides public attention and recognition for innovative organizations that tap the passion and experience of people over 50 to improve society. It’s a salute to any nonprofit or public sector agency that takes on local, national, or international challenges by engaging this vast and vibrant workforce for good. (

*Next Chapter, which provides expertise and assistance to community groups across the country that are working to help people in the second half of life set a course, connect with peers, and find pathways to meaningful work and significant service. Local Next Chapter projects and related programs exist in dozens of communities nationwide. (

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