21
Mar

Marc Freedman and Civic Ventures

The social entrepreneur Marc Freedman is the founder and driving force behind Civic Ventures. He created the nonprofit to encourage baby boomers–really anyone getting older–to engage in second and third careers. His basic insight is that experienced workers can use their talents to address serious social problems, from sustainability to homelessness. The website offers everything from stories by people who have made the transition to original research. His work is inspiring. He has really shaped my thinking about retirement and the good life in conversation we’ve had over the years.

So, it was a real pleasure early this afternoon to put my feet up on my desk with a cup of coffee at my side and open up the Sunday New York Times to see an article about a program created by Civic Ventures. Here are the opening paragraphs. It’s well worth reading:

IN the back room of a neighborhood restaurant here, a small group of men and women in their 50s gathered recently to mark a milestone. “I feel like when historians look back and think about this salmon lunch at MacArthur Park, they’ll see this was a real turning point,” said Marc Freedman, who started a pilot program for baby boomers to transition into second careers.

These 10 executives had all left their high-paying jobs in the private sector and joined the pilot program, and this was their formal graduation. They had taken a step familiar to some high school or college students: take a year off to regroup, rethink and figure out what they want to be when they grow up.

They dived into what are called Encore Fellowships, six-month or yearlong paid stints with nonprofit organizations in fields like education and the environment. The privately financed fellowship was named for what Mr. Freedman, 51, a leading expert on the changing nature of retirement and the founder of Civic Ventures in San Francisco, calls the Encore Generation. It is the model for a program that would expand to all 50 states under federal legislation enacted last spring.