Marc Freedman

Ashoka Fellow
,
Fellow Since 2005
Encore.org

Citation

This profile was prepared when Marc R. Freedman was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2005.
The New Idea
Working with a variety of community members (from local governments to foundations and from universities to public libraries), Life Options provides a package of programs that assist communities in launching the ideas, infrastructure, and institutions to successfully engage the so-called "third age" population–those in their active retirement, typically 60-90 years of age.
The package begins with building the idea of successful aging through outlining a strategic awareness campaign that informs and engages the community. Life Options then facilitates the establishment of an infrastructure–a network of Lifelong Learning and Development Centers that progress into the education and growth of a senior-friendly community. As part of building the infrastructure, Life Options works with communities to engage funders, service providers, and community organizations to make the ideas and institutions sustainable. Finally, Life Options supports the communities in expanding opportunities for older people to become or remain employed or even start their own entrepreneurial endeavors–and to be engaged in civic activities generally.
Life Options bases its work on the insight that "third agers" will want to continue learning and can be of great service to their communities. Life Options works beyond the classes and volunteer opportunities traditionally available to seniors to be an emerging institution able to assist seniors in planning their "third phase," while providing the tools, connections, support, and opportunities to successfully navigate and transition into this new phase of life. At the same time, Life Options creates a proactive opportunity for communities to involve the talent and skills of their older citizens to address challenging social problems.
As the third age population continues to increase, Marc is focused on "transforming the aging of American society into a source of individual and social renewal." Beyond providing a toolkit to local communities, Marc will apply the principles of Life Options at a national level–improving the knowledge and awareness of the idea of successful aging, promoting policies that enable older Americans to become involved in strengthening communities, and creating more compelling opportunities for older Americans to serve their communities. As his vision becomes a societal norm, Marc affirms that "social problems will be addressed, solutions will be tried, and lives will be improved."
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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