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AARP Purpose Prize

Awards to USA Organization Founders Ages 50 and Over to
Recognize Positive Change and Significant Social Impact

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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AARP Foundation

Deadline Date:



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Awards of $5,000 and $50,000 to USA and territories individual nonprofit founders ages 50 and older to recognize efforts to create positive social change and impact. The award is intended to acknowledge organizational leaders who use their life experiences to make a difference. Applicants must have started the work at age 40 or older, and the work should be taking place at the time of the application.

 AARP strongly considers applicants working in the following issue areas:

  • Intergenerational work (opportunities for different generations to come together to share their experience, knowledge, and skills) 
  • Rethinking the workplace (jobs, work environments, alternative approaches) 
  • Caregiving and caregiver resources (support for vulnerable populations and the people who care for them)
  • Healthy living (food and nutrition, brain health, physical fitness, etc.)
  • Financial health (financial stability, resilience, economic opportunity, etc.
  • Hunger (food insecurity, waste, distribution, etc.)
  • Affordable housing (safe, well-managed, and affordable housing and services) 
  • Social connections (isolation among vulnerable community members)
  • Civic engagement and community development (helping people be active participants in building and strengthening their communities)
  • Environmental issues (combating the challenges facing the planet)
  • Children and youth (helping kids and young people reach their full potential)
  • Arts and culture (using art and culture as tools to engage communities in positive change) 
  • Peace and security rights (establishing or preserving justice and equality by peaceful means) 
  • Homelessness (addressing the needs of homeless populations)
  • Veterans (providing services for veterans, advocating for veterans’ rights, empowering veterans) 
  • Animal Protection (ensuring animal welfare, promoting animal companionship with vulnerable populations) 

The individual Winners and Fellows receive:

  • The opportunity for their stories and work to be promoted across a variety of media channels
  • Membership in the 2021 AARP Purpose Prize “class” of honorees -- a peer community of learning
  • Yearlong individualized support to help further organizational goals
  • Inclusion in the full AARP Purpose Prize alumni network

Fellows will receive a cash prize and will be invited to:

  • Participate in media and storytelling training.
  • Participate in the one-day pre-2020 Purpose Prize end-of-year get-together to reflect on the AARP Purpose Prize experience, share feedback, make recommendations, etc.
  • Attend the 2020 AARP Purpose Prize celebration event.
  • Attend a midyear onsite get-together.
  • Opt in for technical assistance and support webinars.
  • Engage in optional networking events.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 180642

Number of Grants:

Five winners will be chosen; and up to 10 fellows will be designated.

Estimated Size of Grant:

One of the 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) non-profit organizations that each of the five winners have founded will receive $50,000.

One of the 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) non-profit organizations, founded by the fellows will receive $5,000 each.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Nominees must be legal residents of the fifty (50) United States/District of Columbia and its territories or a US citizen living abroad, who are at least fifty (50) years old as of the date of entry and who started the work for which they are nominated at the age of forty (40) or older.

Nominees must have founded a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) non-profit organization with its principal place of business located in the United States in good standing in its state of origin and tax exemption under the Internal Revenue Code at the time of Nominee’s nomination and throughout the Promotion selection process (“Founded Non-profit”). The Founded Non-profit’s mission should be consistent with the Nominee’s social impact work.

Important note: The AARP Purpose Prize award is not a lifetime achievement award. It celebrates people who are currently using their life experience and creativity to make a difference on important social issues.

AARP cannot evaluate the merit of certain types of scientific or technological innovations, academic research, or fine art. If you are an academic researcher, fine artist, or inventor you need to demonstrate the social impact of your research, art, or invention. Otherwise, your application will not be considered. You should also not be involved in work that is exclusively religious or sectarian. However, people working in faith-based settings that have a broader social mission are eligible and encouraged to apply.

The following categories of people are not eligible:
- AARP staff
- AARP Board Members
- AARP consultants and vendors who have received remuneration during the 12-month period preceding the application deadline
- Individuals who work at organizations that share a board member with AARP
- Members of the AARP Purpose Prize award jury
- AARP-appointed volunteers
- Family members (including domestic partners) and business associates of any individuals in the categories listed above
- Current AARP or AARP Foundation grantees
- Elected officials
- Previous AARP Purpose Prize Award Winners
- Individuals that were selected as an AARP Purpose Prize Fellow within the last two years.

Pre-Application Information:

Submission Deadline: March 31st, 2021.

Contest Round Administration and Round Winner Notification:

Round 1 (Applicant Round):
All Applicants must submit their applications by 5:00pm ET on March 31, 2021. The failure to complete the application form or comply with the applicable instructions will result in disqualification of said Applicant, the forfeiture of his or her interest in the prize and the selection of a substitute Applicant from among all remaining eligible entries. AARP Reviewers will identify all eligible applications that meet the outlined Purpose Prize Contest criteria. From the eligible applications, the AARP Reviewers will select up to 150 applicants to continue to Round 2. Applicants that are not selected to continue to the next round will be notified via email by approximately April 16, 2021. The failure to complete the application form, provide all requested documents or comply with the applicable instructions will result in disqualification of said Applicant, the forfeiture of his or her interest in the prize and the selection of a substitute Applicant from among all remaining eligible entries.

Round 2 (Candidate Round):
During the Candidate round, approximately 25 Candidates will be selected by AARP Reviewers to continue to Round 3 of internal reviews by no later than April 16, 2021. The Candidates that are not selected to continue to the next round will be notified via email by April 30, 2021.

Round 3 (Semi-Finalist Round):
AARP will notify the Semi-Finalists that they have been selected by approximately May 7, 2021 and schedule site-visits (virtual or in person) to meet the Applicants and to assess first-hand the work of their Founded Non-Profits in action. These site visits will take place throughout May and June, 2021. In addition, Applicants selected as Semi-Finalists will undergo background checks during this round. The results of the site visits and the background checks will be considered in the remaining rounds.

By approximately July 2, 2021 approximately 15 Finalists from the Semi-Finalist round will be selected by AARP Reviewers to continue to Round 4. Candidates not selected to continue to the next round will be notified via email approximately by July 9, 2021.

Round 4 (Finalist Round). By approximately July 9, 2021, Finalists will then be reviewed by AARP Reviewers who will then select 7-10 Finalists to be voted on by the Jury in Round 5. Candidates not selected to continue to the next round will be notified via email by July 16, 2021.

Round 5 (Winner Round): By approximately July 25, 2021, the Jury will select five (5) Winners. By July 29, 2021 the AARP CEO will review the five (5) Winners for final approval to confirm the final Winners.

Winners will be notified by phone and via email on or about July 30, 2021. Winners must email within five (5) days of notification to claim prize.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply online:

For questions please contact:

601 E. Street NW
Washington, DC 20049

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)

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