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Social Capitalists: Civic Ventures

43 entrepreneurs who are changing the world
Social Capitalist 2008 Winner

Civic Ventures

Marc Freedman, CEO
San Francisco, California

Beverly Ryder left a corporate career to help revitalize the Los Angeles public schools. Robert Chambers left his job as a car salesman to create a better way for poor people in New Hampshire to buy fuel-efficient cars. Ed Speedling left thirty years as a hospital executive and academic to work with the homeless on the streets of Philadelphia.

In one of the most promising social trends of the new century, baby boomers are finding work that matters in the second half of life. If millions follow in Ryder, Chambers and Speedling’s footsteps and find Encore Careers of their own, society will have uncovered an enormous new source of talent to combat the challenges of poverty, inequality and environmental degradation. The potential for progress will be staggering.

Civic Ventures is leading the call to engage millions of baby boomers as a vital workforce for social change.

A small organization with big goals, Civic Ventures works as a catalyst, bringing people and organizations together to create bold reactions and make change. Today, through creative programming and an inventive portfolio, Civic Ventures:

* Documents the reality that boomers want to engage in work that matters (see New Face of Work survey).

* Builds a growing movement of people in their Encore Careers and develops a clearinghouse of services and policies to support them (see

* Promotes the passion and limitless potential of this don’t-hold-me-back generation (see Purpose Prize).

* Creates replicable, on-the-ground programs that match this new workforce with critical needs in communities (see Experience Corps and Next Chapter initiative).

* Encourages employment policies and practices that create more pathways to good work for people in the second half of life (see BreakThrough Awards).

* Pilots new approaches that help people transition to this work (see Community College Encore Career project).

But there is so much more that must be done. As millions of boomers reach traditional retirement age, Civic Ventures is launching a four-year campaign to make the aging of American into an historic opportunity for individuals and society. In this campaign, Civic Ventures will:

* Establish the Encore Career – works that matters in the second half of life – as a new cultural norm and boomers’ definition of success.

* Connect people in Encore Careers to build a common identity and sense of community.

* Spur fresh thinking on policies, products, institutions, and strategies that will help people find and succeed in Encore Careers.

* Motivate social sector employers to make the best and highest use of boomers’ skills and experience.

* Catalyze a growing marketplace of ideas and investments – all focused on the opportunities that 78 million baby boomers represent.

It won’t be easy. Boomers won’t get the chance to work for the greater good, and society won’t get the benefit of their experience, without big changes in attitudes and behaviors, education and training, the workplace, and public policy. Who will hire people who have finished their midlife careers? How will people at this stage of life prepare for new jobs in new fields? How will employers and society encourage work that matters in the second half of life?

For half a century, marketers and developers sold the golden years ideal of freedom from work. But today not many people want to be on the sidelines for 30 years – and few can afford it.

Today we have the opportunity to forge a new and compelling vision of the second half of life, one that revolves around work, purpose, and meaning…one that solves social problems instead of creating them. Through strategic investments in powerful ideas, Civic Ventures is leading the way to a society that makes more sense—for everyone.