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WoS "Literacy Champion" honorees David Tyree, left, Jenny Vrentas, second from right, and Stephen A. Smith, right, pose with WoS founder and executive director Byron Yake, second from left, at the WoS 2015 Gala in October.

WoS founder and executive director Byron Yake welcomed the crowd at the WoS 2015 Gala in October in Newark.

SAN FRANCSICO, Nov. 13, 2015 – Byron Yake, the founder and executive director of Write on Sports, was named a Purpose Prize fellow by Encore.org.

He was among six winners of the Purpose Prize and 41 Purpose Prize fellows annouced Nov. 13, 2015, by the San Francisco-based non-profit organization.

National non-profit honors WoS founder Yake as fellow

The Purpose Prize®, a program of Encore.org, is a national nonprofit that is building a movement to tap the experience of people in midlife and beyond who are using their encore years – the time of traditional retirement – to undertake powerful social-impact projects.

The mission of Write on Sports (WoS) is to inspire middle school youth to write by teaching them to write about sports. Students learn the basics of good journalism; they apply their knowledge to writing spot stories and a feature piece during a two-week camp. They role play, write scripts and produce videos on computers. Guest journalists and athletes hold press conferences with students.

The student-teacher ratio is about 4:1, giving students personalized assistance. Teachers are certified and many are from the local school district where the camps are held. In 2015, WoS held eight summer camps and two after-school programs in three states, serving more than 200 students.

The 50 Purpose Prize winners were selected from a pool of more than 600 nominees in recognition of their innovative social-impact contributions. Their examples shine as models for millions of Americans who believe they can use their life experience to make a difference. The 2015 Purpose Prize marks a decade of ground-breaking innovation that challenges outdated thinking about the contributions of experienced adults.

Like Write on Sports, The Purpose Prize is in its 10th year and is the nation’s only large-scale investment in people over the age of 60 who combine their life skills and talents for the social good. First awarded in 2006 by Encore.org (then called Civic Ventures), the Prize aims to recognize social innovators with the drive to tackle some of society’s most pressing challenges – and the wisdom to know how to do it. Their work showcases the enormous, and too-often overlooked, value of experience.

“When we launched The Purpose Prize in 2006, the idea that people in their 60s and 70s (and beyond) were every bit as innovative as those in their 20s and 30s was blasphemy. And the notion that they were every bit as committed to solving society’s biggest challenges was not even considered seriously. Ten years – and more than 500 Purpose Prize winners and fellows later – it’s an indisputable truth,” said Encore.org founder and CEO Marc Freedman. “We can't wait to see what these creative, passionate innovators will do next.”

“The 2015 Purpose Prize honorees have applied their significant talents to address social injustice, human rights, health, education and economic empowerment, at home and abroad,” said Purpose Prize director Eunice Nichols. “Each person we honor today is doing the most important work of their lives, achieving substantial social impact while finding personal fulfillment in the process.”

Twenty-six jurors – leaders in business, politics, media and the nonprofit sector – chose the Purpose Prize honorees from a pool more than 600 nominees. Jurors include Sherry Lansing, former CEO of Paramount; Michael D. Eisner, former CEO of The Walt Disney Company and co-founder of The Eisner Foundation; Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post; Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP; Eric Liu, author and founder of Citizen University; and Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The 2015 Purpose Prize winners and fellows will be joined by dozens of previous Purpose Prize honorees at a celebration on February 10, 2016, at the SF Jazz Center in San Francisco. The evening will mark a decade of Purpose Prize achievements and include a multimedia tribute to the honorees and their work.

Emmy-award-winning journalist Jane Pauley and 2013 Purpose Prize winner and anchorwoman Ysabel Duron will host the evening’s festivities, which will include hundreds of encore movement leaders and Purpose Prize honorees, as well as a piano performance by Justin Kauflin, whose remarkable relationship with jazz legend Clark Terry is featured in the documentary Keep on Keepin’ On.

The Purpose Prize was created by Encore.org with major investments from The Atlantic Philanthropies and the John Templeton Foundation.

Yake, of West Orange, NJ, started Write on Sports 10 years ago to teach middle school students how to write about sports as a way to help them write.

“I’m honored to be a Purpose Prize Fellow,” said Yake, 75, whose journalism career with weekly newspapers and the Associated Press, gave him excellent background on which to draw for his venture.  “It’s exciting to see a program grow from an idea to something that has significant impact on the lives of middle school students.”

Yake