Now in its fifth year, the six-year, $17 million program is the nation’s only large-scale investment in social entrepreneurs older than 60 who, in their encore careers, are using their experience and passion to make an extraordinary impact on society’s biggest challenges.
Barsema, the founder of two Rockford-based non-profit organizations, will receive $100,000 for establishing Carpenter’s Place, an outreach center for the homeless in Rockford, and then establishing Community Collaboration, Inc., a not-for-profit software provider that has developed an online system to coordinate social services, first in Rockford and now expanded into five other states.
Barsema now serves as senior research associate for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in NIU Outreach’s Center for Governmental Studies, where he is developing a national program to demonstrate the benefits of greater collaboration among governments and faith-based social service providers.
“Purpose Prize winners are courageous, creative, passionate and strategic – all the qualities needed to make headway on some of our greatest challenges,” said Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of Civic Ventures and author of the upcoming book “The Big Shift” (March, PublicAffairs Books). “It is the combination of these qualities, their decades of experience, and the sheer size of the baby boomer population that make social innovators in their encore careers a promising and invaluable asset to society.”
“I am very honored to receive this prize,” Barsema said. “The successes of Carpenter’s Place and Community Collaboration, Inc. (CCI) demonstrate how people can indeed rebuild their lives when we look at the whole person and work collaboratively to help them. My wife, Cathy, and I will be reinvesting all of the prize proceeds back into our various works to help rebuild lives and transform communities. This will include my new project, ‘One Body Collaboratives,’ which builds upon the existing efforts by mobilizing church and faith-based resources to collaborate more effectively to address individual, family and community needs.”
Barsema was one of 10 winners out of a pool of more than 1,400 nominees. Five others received $50,000 awards.
The Purpose Prize, funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies and the John Templeton Foundation, is a program of the Encore Careers campaign, which aims to engage millions of baby boomers in encore careers combining social impact, personal meaning and continued income in the second half of life. The campaign is run by Civic Ventures, a national think tank on boomers, work and social purpose.
Earlier this year, Barsema’s CCI project was recognized as a “Bright Idea” by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The recognition places the program on a list of some 173 programs (five from Illinois) that Harvard’s Ash Center believes might be useful to leaders across the country trying to improve their communities.