UW News

September 14, 2016

UW Osher Lifelong Learning Institute receives $1 million gift

The Bernard Osher Foundation has announced a $1 million gift to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Washington (OLLI-UW). The Institute offers a diverse array of non-credit courses and activities for people 50 and older, giving these adults access to continuing education at the UW.

The Osher Foundation’s gift takes the form of a $950,000 endowment and $50,000 bridge grant to support the ongoing work of OLLI-UW. It’s the second $1 million award the Foundation has given the UW, with the first coming in 2011.

“I’m delighted that the Osher Foundation has provided such generous support of the Osher Foundation Lifelong Learning Institute’s programs at the University,” said Rovy Branon, vice provost of UW Educational Outreach. “This gift allows us to continue to offer a wide variety of enriching learning opportunities for those ages 50 and older, and ensures the Institute’s long-term sustainability.”

OLLI-UW charges a small annual membership fee, which provides unlimited access to all of its programs (some offerings have an additional cost). The courses and other events give participants the opportunity to explore and discuss a range of engaging topics with their peers — without the pressure of papers, tests or grades. Classes meet on the UW campus in Seattle and at other Puget Sound locations.

“The progress of the lifelong learning program at the University of Washington since the Foundation made its initial grant in June 2006 has been exceptional,” Mary G.F. Bitterman, president of the Osher Foundation, wrote in a letter announcing the award. “We applaud, too, the University’s leadership for its support of the institute and for embracing the notion that, at its best, education is a lifelong pursuit that has the power to elevate, delight and forge our connection to one another and to a larger world.”

Branon noted that OLLI is a great way for nontraditional students — individuals who might not otherwise engage with the University — to connect with the UW. The Institute is just one offering from UW Educational Outreach, which annually serves nearly 50,000 students of all ages with a selection of 130 certificate programs, 70 degrees, international student programs and other opportunities.

The Bernard Osher Foundation, headquartered in San Francisco, funds lifelong learning programs at 119 institutions of higher education across the country. The Foundation was created in 1977 by Bernard Osher, a successful businessman and community leader, with the goal of improving quality of life through support for higher education and the arts.