Los Angeles’ Valerie Sobel Honored as 2009 Purpose Prize Fellow for Innovation, Extraordinary Contribution in Encore Career

Entrepreneurs Over 60 Win $50,000 – $100,000 Each for Using Creativity, Experience to Solve Long-Standing Social Problems

Los Angeles – Valerie Sobel has been named a 2009 Purpose Prize fellow, an honor for social entrepreneurs over 60 who are using their experience and passion to take on society’s biggest challenges. Now in its fourth year, the six-year, $17 million program is the nation’s only large-scale investment in social innovators in the second half of life.

Valerie Sobel, the Founder and President of the Los Angeles-based Andre Sobel River of Life  Foundation, was named a Fellow for her ardent work to provide urgent financial assistance to single parent families of children with catastrophic and terminal illness through the nonprofit organization bearing her son’s name. The Foundation provides assistance in 24 hours – “when compassion can’t wait.”

Ms. Sobel will join 46 other Purpose Prize Fellows at a Summit on Innovation on Oct. 31 – Nov. 1 at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business’ Center on Social Innovation, one of the world’s leading academic centers focused on social entrepreneurship.

The fellows underscore a trend in entrepreneurialism later in life. According to studies by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the 55-64 age group is the most active in creating new ventures. Counter to stereotype, people ages 20-34, the study found, are the least entrepreneurial.

“More than ever, the problems facing our communities, country and world call out for creative solutions,” said Marc Freedman, co-founder of The Purpose Prize and author of Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life. “Fortunately, we don’t run out of ideas as we age.

“Like so many others in this new stage of life between the end of midlife careers and the beginning of true old age, The Purpose Prize fellows combine creativity, experience and passion with a desire to do something bigger than themselves,” Freeman continued.

Says Ms. Sobel, “By its very nature an encore career is a more passionate and committed one than our earlier requisite endeavors.  It is a calling in which we invest all that we have learned over a lifetime. In my case my new vocation found me, and it became my emotional survival.  Now, to help thousands of single parents of terminally ill children is the focus of my life, and I bring my own personal experience to bear its full force unto this compassionate mission.”

The Purpose Prize supports Fellows by helping develop their capacity, linking them with funders and venture philanthropists and connecting them to other social innovators over 60. It is part of the Encore Careers campaign run by Civic Ventures, a national think tank on boomers, work and social purpose. Funding for The Purpose Prize comes from The Atlantic Philanthropies and the John Templeton Foundation.

Sherry Lansing, CEO of the Sherry Lansing Foundation and former chair of Paramount Pictures’ Motion Picture Group, chairs the jury that selected this year’s winners. The 24 judges are leaders in business, politics, journalism and the nonprofit sector – including actor Sidney Poitier, social entrepreneur Thomas Tierney, former Senator Harris Wofford and journalist Cokie Roberts.

The Purpose Prize is a program of the Encore Careers campaign (www.encore.org), which aims to engage millions of boomers in encore careers combining social impact, personal meaning and continued income in the second half of life. The goal: produce a windfall of human talent to solve society’s greatest problems, from education to the environment, health care to homelessness.

For more information, visit www.encore.org.

About Civic Ventures (www.encore.org)

Civic Ventures is a national think tank on boomers, work and social purpose.

About The Atlantic Philanthropies (www.atlanticphilanthropies.org)

The Atlantic Philanthropies are dedicated to bringing about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Their work is aimed at ageing, disadvantaged children and youth, population health, and reconciliation and human rights.

About the John Templeton Foundation (www.templeton.org)

The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for research and discoveries relating to what scientists and philosophers call the Big Questions. The Foundation supports work at the world’s top universities in such fields as theoretical physics, cosmology, evolutionary biology, cognitive science, and social science relating to love, forgiveness, creativity, purpose, and the nature and origin of religious belief.

About the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation (www.andreriveroflife.com)

When compassion can’t wait and single parent families are in despair, ASRL provides urgent financial assistance to allow these caregivers to remain by their child’s bedside during catastrophic illness. Since 2000, ASRL has provided nearly $4 million in urgent aid to bridge over 3,000 families’ medical and financial crises.  Assistance is offered in 24 hours ~  a hallmark of ASRL’s work ~ for such vital everyday needs as rent payments to save a family from eviction, gas cards and car payments to ensure transportation to the hospital, phone bills to keep families in touch with their doctors, child care for siblings at home and even a wig for a child facing chemotherapy treatment.  ASRL works through formal partnerships with 12 pediatric hospitals nationwide and receives major funding from the Genentech Foundation.