NEW YORK -- The father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, a former head of the NAACP and a former mayor of Philadelphia are among the finalists for five $100,000 prizes being awarded for the first time to Americans over age 60 who have used their experience and skills to tackle social problems.
Fifteen finalists -- including two two-person teams -- are being named today for the inaugural Purpose Prize; each wins $10,000, and five will be chosen in September for the $100,000 prizes.
The selections from among 1,200 nominees were made by Civic Ventures, a San Francisco think tank that seeks to encourage older Americans to engage in socially productive endeavors.
Civic Ventures' president, Marc Freedman, noted that the finalists included a social worker, a farmer and a former car salesman, as well as a former CEO. He depicted them as examples for the millions of baby boomers heading toward retirement age.
"These men and women -- some national figures, some local heroes -- disprove the assumption that innovation is the province of the young," Freedman said.
Among the winners was Judea Pearl, 69, whose son, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was killed by Islamic militants in Pakistan in 2002. Judea Pearl, a computer science professor at UCLA, was selected in partnership with Akbar Ahmed, 63, an Islamic studies professor at American University, for their participation in the Daniel Pearl Dialogues for Muslim-Jewish Understanding.
"People over 60 have more talents and more energy than they realize," Pearl said. "Younger people constantly worry what their boss or their family might think. At my age, we're free of constraints."
The oldest finalist is Benjamin Hooks, 81, a former head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He was honored for helping found the Children's Health Forum and securing millions of federal dollars to combat lead poisoning in low-income neighborhoods.
W. Wilson Goode, 68, the first black mayor of Philadelphia, was honored for his leadership of Amachi, a nonprofit assisting children with parents in prison or on parole.
The other finalists:
--Frank Brady, 63, Paterson, N.J.: Created program helping seriously ill children who lack access to quality medical care.
--Conchy Bretos, 61, Miami: Enabled public housing projects to provide assisted-living services to low-income older adults so they keep their own homes.
--Robert Chambers, 62, Lebanon, N.H.: Former car salesman created program providing low-interest car loans to low-income buyers.
--Charles Dey, 76, Old Lyme, Conn.: Created program providing paid internships and workplace mentors to minority high school students with disabilities.
--Bernard Flynn, 71, Sacramento, Calif.: Former farmer has helped other farmers restore flood-prone riverfront acreage as wildlife habitat.
--Marilyn Gaston, 67, and Gayle Porter, 60, Bethesda, Md.: Co-wrote health guide for middle-aged African-American women.
--Dagney Jochem, 65, Durham, N.C.: Founded organization raising awareness of HIV and AIDS in rural and black communities.
--James Ketelsen, 76, Houston: Former CEO of Tenneco leads program helping minority and low-income youth graduate from high school.
--Suzanne Mintz, 60, Kensington, Md.: Co-founded National Family Caregivers Association.
--Martha Rollins, 63, Richmond, Va.: Created program helping ex-convicts get jobs.
--June Simmons, 64, San Fernando, Calif.: Established foundation to devise innovative approaches to health care.
--Herb Sturz, 76, New York: Helped create after-school programs serving 40,000 children. Also runs project placing retirees in part-time jobs with social service and government agencies.
Funding for the prizes comes from the Atlantic Philanthropies and The John Templeton Foundation.
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