Purpose Prize

Marc Freedman Portrait

The Latest from CoGenerate

New Survey Reveals Benefits of Older-Younger Tutoring Teams

New Survey Reveals Benefits of Older-Younger Tutoring Teams

For the past year, Ampact, with support from CoGenerate’s Generations Serving Together program, placed cogenerational pairs of AmeriCorps members in elementary schools. The older and younger adults worked side by side to improve students’ reading and math skills. A...

The Billionaire Who Gave Away His Fortune Took a Big Chance on Us

The Billionaire Who Gave Away His Fortune Took a Big Chance on Us

We at CoGenerate (formerly Encore.org) are mourning the loss of Chuck Feeney this week. Without Chuck's vision and generosity we likely would not exist as an organization. Twenty-five years ago Atlantic Philanthropies took a chance on our start-up, playing a...


Henry Johnson

Benton Boulevard Beautification Leadership Team
Purpose Prize Fellow 2009

Johnson revitalizes urban neighborhoods by rehabilitating inner-city, multifamily rental housing. He encourages residents to build home equity, start businesses, and support schools and public services.

“My passion is building capacity in urban centers and creating an entrepreneurial community to help lead change from the bottom up,” explains Johnson, a former community newspaper owner. Returning to Kansas City, Missouri, after nearly 40 years and buying a 27-unit building on Benton Boulevard – a historic boulevard that experienced significant blight – Johnson quickly became more than just a property owner. As neighbors expressed frustration with the state of their community, Johnson decided to turn anger into action. He launched the Benton Boulevard Beautification Leadership Team, or B3, as a broad-based, public/private, community-driven partnership to turn the boulevard around. By organizing community action teams to clean up and beautify Benton Boulevard, the teams have improved the attractiveness of the area; increased participation of church attendees and residents; improved property values; and decreased criminal activity. The idea is spreading. What started with one corridor has now moved to surrounding neighborhoods along Benton Boulevard. More than 50 volunteers and property owners have helped plant flowers, vegetable gardens and nearly 100 trees along the corridor. Now, Johnson is focusing on bringing the idea of neighborhood beautification as an avenue for social change within distressed communities citywide.