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Jul 28, 2022
AARP Announces 2023 Purpose Prize® Award Winners and Fellows; Award-Winning Filmmaker and Actor Tyler Perry to Receive Honorary Purpose Prize
$50K Awards Will Be Presented To Five Winners And Their Organizations That Lead Extraordinary Missions In Their Communities

WASHINGTON – Today, AARP announced its 2023 AARP Purpose Prize award recipients. The one-of-a-kind national award honors people age 50-plus who have proven that they are using their knowledge and life experience to make a difference. Five AARP Purpose Prize Winners who have founded a non-profit will receive $50,000 for their organization. In addition, 10 AARP Purpose Prize Fellows and their organizations will be recognized with an award of $10,000. All award recipients will also receive a year of technical support to help broaden the scope of their organization’s work.

“Each of the winners and fellows acknowledged here today deserve all of the praise and recognition we have to offer for their exemplary work,” said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins. “We celebrate these inspiring individuals, who have used their decades of life experience to give back in a meaningful way, to be leaders in their communities, and to create a better future for us all.”

Alongside the Purpose Prize winners and fellows, AARP will present critically acclaimed filmmaker, screenwriter, actor and philanthropist Tyler Perry with an honorary Purpose Prize Award for his founding and leadership of The Perry Foundation. Since its inception in 2006, The Perry Foundation has been committed to transforming tragedy into triumph by cultivating individual potential, supporting communities, and harvesting sustainable change. Partnering with a myriad of organizations nationally and globally, The Foundation focuses on education, health, agriculture, human rights, technology, arts & culture, global sustainability, and economic development. Through this organization, Tyler Perry has aided people and charities who help others overcome the obstacles that he, too, once faced.

The AARP Inspire Award will also return for its second year. Starting today, the general public will have the opportunity to vote at for the AARP Purpose Prize Winner they would like to win the AARP Inspire Award, which grants the recipient an additional $10,000 for their organization. The AARP Inspire Award recipient will be announced during an in-person celebration honoring all recipients in Washington, D.C. on October 25, 2022.


The 2023 AARP Purpose Prize winners are:

Zerqa Abid – Columbus, Ohio – MY Project USA

  • MY Project USA protects youth from drugs, gangs and human trafficking by empowering them through sports, social services and civic engagement.

Jamesetta Ferguson – Louisville, Kentucky – MOLO Village, CDC

  • Molo (“welcome” in the South African dialect Xhosa) Village is a grassroots organization committed to holistically addressing complex issues that the neighborhood of Russell — a once-thriving African American community — now experiences, including poverty, inadequate housing, limited food access, low educational attainment and systemic racism.

Sharron Rush – Austin, Texas – Knowbility

  • Knowbility's mission is to create an inclusive digital world for people with disabilities.

Bill Toone – Escondido, California – ECOLIFE Conservation

  • ECOLIFE Conservation's mission is to protect wildlife, natural resources and the people who depend on them.

Dr. Imani Woody – Washington, D.C. – Mary’s House for Older Adults

  • Mary’s House for Older Adults Inc. is committed to helping its community by developing housing and inclusive environments that comprehensively address affordability and access, and eliminate the constant worry of discrimination or even violence based upon the LGBTQ+/SGL status of the individual.


The 2023 AARP Purpose Prize fellows are:

Gulshan Harjee, M.D. – Atlanta, Georgia – Clarkston Community Health Center

Judith Heilman – Bozeman, Montana – The Montana Racial Equity Project

Chien-Chi Huang – Somerville, Massachusetts – Asian Women for Health

Debra Isaacs – Henderson, Nevada – UNSHAKEABLE

Mishelle Rudzinski – Portland, Oregon – SPOON

Elizabeth Shaughnessy – Berkeley, California – Berkeley Chess School

Charles Schmuck – Menlo Park, California – The Peninsula College Fund

Richard Sesler – Charlotte, North Carolina – Camp Blue Skies

Richard Valenza – Los Angeles, California – RaiseAChild

Michele R. Wright, Ph.D. and Terry Gene Wright – North Little Rock, Arkansas – National Organization of African Americans with Cystic Fibrosis


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About AARP

AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.

For further information: Henry Kenney III,, (202) 714-0214