Purpose Prize

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William Stone

The Action Center for Educational Service and Scholarships
Purpose Prize Fellow 2009

After three decades in the for-profit sector, Stone turned his attention toward helping to expand a struggling nonprofit serving low-income high school students.

Shortly before his 59th birthday, Stone retired from his 33-year career as a business attorney at a Boston law firm. After a year off, he started looking for work with a social purpose. Stone landed at The Action Center for Educational Service and Scholarships, or ACCESS, a Boston nonprofit that addresses financial barriers to college for low-income students. When Stone first approached ACCESS in 2005, the program was languishing, serving only a third of Boston’s eligible students. Initially, Stone undertook a mix of special projects pro bono. He led ACCESS in securing tax-exempt status, updated its benefits package, and otherwise helped build the infrastructure the organization needed in order to grow. ACCESS then hired Stone as its first operations director. The job allowed Stone, now 64, to build new skills and interact with new, often younger, people. Since he joined ACCESS, the organization has tripled the number of students it serves. In 2008, ACCESS helped high school seniors secure more than $34 million in grants, loans, and scholarships – a sharp increase from $8.3 million in 2005. “I think the most compelling story I have to offer is about my own encore career experience and what a thrill and joy it’s been to reinvent myself and find renewed energy and purpose through doing work that’s really interesting,” Stone says.