The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at OU recently received a $25,000 grant from The Bernard Osher Foundation to further develop the Institute’s fundraising program and membership numbers.
OLLI at OU is a program dedicated to promoting lifelong learning and personal growth of older adults, age 50+, through a variety of noncredit courses and special programs. The program has grown to nearly 900 members and has been able to expand from the Norman campus to offer classes at the PHF Conference Center on the OU Health Sciences Center campus in Oklahoma City. The grant money will be used to enhance fundraising capacity, which includes plans for various cultural festivals, stronger membership drives, a planned giving program and creation of member and faculty committees to guide the OLLI staff in pursuing potential areas of opportunity.
“We are really excited that the Osher Foundation reached out to us with this grant,” said Chris Elliott, director of OLLI. “We are excited to do something new and see some of these things we’ve been working on in the last several months come to fruition.”
Elliott says that in addition to more robust membership drives and the creation of member committees, he is looking forward to creating an OLLI film festival during the first year of the grant. He said that if OLLI at OU receives an additional year or two of funding, plans are also in the works to hold a music festival and potentially a literary festival. While increasing fundraising opportunities is the main goal of the grant, Elliott is also looking forward to increasing program membership. His hopes are that by the time grant funding is over, OLLI will have 1,800 members between the Norman and OUHSC campuses.
OLLI at OU has seen great strides in their program over the last year. OLLI instructor Cal Hobson, former president pro tempore of the Oklahoma State Senate, leads the largest OLLI classes to date, with nearly 300 participants at times. His course on Money and Politics is a continuation of his course from last spring and continues to grow each session. In addition to large classes on the OU campus, OLLI at OU has partnered with OLLI at OSU and St. Luke’s Methodist Church in Oklahoma City to host the Bedlam lecture series. When the church’s original continuing education program, which started in the 1950s, was discontinued this year, St. Luke’s reached out to OLLI at OU and at OSU to run the Bedlam series, featuring both an OLLI faculty member from OU and OSU for each session.
“The OLLI at OU program has enjoyed tremendous success on our campus,” said James Pappas, vice president for Outreach. “I am frequently approached in Norman by OLLI at OU members who let me know what a phenomenal program it is. This capacity-building grant should aid us in making the program even more successful.”
To find out more about OU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, visit the website at http://www.ou.edu/olli.