Purpose Prize

Marc Freedman Portrait

The Latest from CoGenerate

These 10 Innovators Use Cogeneration to Advance Economic Opportunity

These 10 Innovators Use Cogeneration to Advance Economic Opportunity

Our first group of CoGen Challenge awardees are bringing older and younger people together  to boost the economic prospects of substitute teachers, artists with disabilities, people without homes, girls facing hardship in Appalachia, and so much more.   To learn more...

‘I Want These Girls to Know They Have Limitless Possibilities’

‘I Want These Girls to Know They Have Limitless Possibilities’

Gwen Johnson is the founder of Mamaw Mentorship in Eastern Kentucky and one of 10 awardees of the CoGen Challenge to Advance Economic Opportunity. Watch for interviews with all 10 of these innovators bringing older and younger people together to open doors to economic...

Need a Guide To Spark Productive, Intergenerational Conversations?

Need a Guide To Spark Productive, Intergenerational Conversations?

In March, we released our latest report, What Young Leaders Want — And Don’t Want — From Older Allies, summarizing what 31 Gen Z and Millennial leaders had to say about working with older people to solve pressing problems — aka “cogeneration” — and how it can be...

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Sister Eileen McNerney

Taller San Jose
Purpose Prize Fellow 2008

Helping high-risk youth restructure their lives, finish school, and develop marketable skills.

In 1992, Sister Eileen McNerney was living with three other nuns in gang-ridden Santa Ana, CA. One night she heard gunshots and then a mother crying over the body of her son, the second child she had lost to gang violence. McNerney resolved then and there to find a way to stem the tide of youth violence in a poor immigrant neighborhood plagued by a 50 percent high school dropout rate. McNerney decided the biggest obstacle to young people’s success was failure to secure and hold jobs. In 1995, at age 56, she launched Taller San Jose (St. Joseph’s Workshop) to offer training, counseling, legal help and job placement to high-risk young adults so they can restructure their lives, finish high school and develop marketable skills. More than 4,000 Santa Ana area young people have gone through Taller San Jose’s office skills academy, medical careers program or residential construction program, using support services such as mentoring, legal assistance, and job placement. Of graduates who have previously been incarcerated, 92 percent have not been re-arrested. 86 percent have moved on to full-time employment or community college. “I realized that I had had many privileges in my life and that the lives of these young people were certainly as important to them as my life had been to me. I really couldn’t bear to live there and be passive to the situation.”