Purpose Prize

Marc Freedman Portrait

The Latest from CoGenerate

Overheard on Text: Imposter Syndrome

Overheard on Text: Imposter Syndrome

As colleagues from different generations (x/millennial), we’ve been leading talks and workshops sharing our insights about working across generations – what we call “cogeneration.” As we plan, we’re usually texting furiously, sharing ideas and reflections. So we...

This Cogenerational Pair Calls for ‘Radical Inclusion’ of Youth

This Cogenerational Pair Calls for ‘Radical Inclusion’ of Youth

I was thrilled when I heard about the new book, Why Aren’t We Doing This! Collaborating with Minors in Major Ways, written by Denise Webb, age 20, and Wendy Schaetzel Lesko, age 73, (both pictured above) and published by Youth Infusion, a clearinghouse co-founded by...

Music Is Having a Moment — And It’s a Cogenerational One.

Music Is Having a Moment — And It’s a Cogenerational One.

Sunday’s show featured three big moments reminding us that music can be a bridge not only across race, culture, and genre, but also age. Tracy Chapman & Luke Combs. Much attention, rightfully, has gone to the duet between Tracy Chapman, who turns 60 next month,...

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Allen Andersson

The Riecken Foundation
Purpose Prize Fellow 2008

Building libraries in Central America to promote better lives.

In 2000, Allen Andersson, then chairman of Paperboy Ventures, sold his company and launched the Riecken Foundation to use a quintessentially democratic institution – a library – to bring prosperity and opportunity to Central Americans. He was 53. In countries with no public library tradition and where free Internet access is a radical notion, the foundation has built 61 lending libraries where community involvement ensures success. Local leaders organize a governing board, find land for the library, win a commitment (usually from municipal governments) to pay librarian salaries and line up donors to cover operating expenses. The foundation, in turn, builds the library, provides books, computers and free internet access; trains librarians and library boards; and supports intensive programming. Most libraries are nestled in villages facing extreme poverty and defined by the World Bank as living on less than one dollar a day. Every week, 11,000 unique visitors enter a Riecken library. For most, it’s the only access to free internet in their community. The libraries have inspired Central Americans to launch public service initiatives, master new technologies, take part in the growth of their own communities and increase transparency of public institutions. The foundation’s urban library, in a poor and violent neighborhood of Tegucigalpa, is just the second public library in the city of one million and its only lending library with internet access. “Although this opportunity took me by surprise, it has made my sixties the happiest years of my life.”