Skoll Foundation


Skoll Awardee Jenny Bowen Wins $100,000 Purpose Prize

November 3, 2011 by

A Skoll Awardee just won an award from another Skoll Awardee.  Skoll Awardee Civic Ventures today announced the 2011 winners of its Purpose Prize. One is Jenny Bowen of Half the Sky Foundation. Bowen and four others will receive $100,000 each for  impacting 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.

Bowen, 66, won The Purpose Prize for Intergenerational Innovation, sponsored by AARP. When Bowen, a screenwriter, saw a photo in The New York Times in 1996 of a starving girl in a Chinese welfare institution, she took immediate action. Within 18 months she and her husband had adopted a 20-month-old girl named Maya from Guangzhou, China. Maya couldn’t walk or talk, but after a year of loving care, she was a happy, healthy child. In 1998 Bowen launched Half the Sky Foundation to radically transform the way China cares for its 800,000 orphans. Today the organization operates in 51 Chinese cities, providing infant care, preschool programs, free medical services for disabled children and financial support for foster families caring for AIDS orphans. So far, the group has improved care for more than 60,000 orphans.

“While Purpose Prize winners are helping to solve a wide range of pressing social problems they have one thing in common,” said Skoll Awardee Marc Freedman, CEO and founder of Civic Ventures and author of The Big Shift. “They – 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.”

The winners and 42 new Purpose Prize fellows will be honored at the 2011 Purpose Prize awards ceremony on December 1 in Sausalito, Calif.

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 (, which aims to engage millions of boomers in encore careers combining personal meaning, continued income and social impact in the second half of life.

Read about the other winners at 

 Homepage photo of Bowen is Copyright © Civic Ventures. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Comments are closed.


© 2015 Skoll Foundation.