The Bernard Osher Foundation has awarded a $1 million endowment to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of New Mexico. OLLI at UNM is a non-profit, member-based organization that provides a distinctive array of non-credit courses and activities specifically developed for seasoned adults aged 50 or older who are interested in learning for the joy of learning.

In fall 2014, The Bernard Osher Foundation challenged OLLI at UNM to raise $20,000 from 20 percent of its members, which resulted in 208 members raising $20,764, making it possible for OLLI at UNM to apply for the endowment. This endowment will help support the OLLI program, including providing for instructors, program materials, and keeping the program accessible to all and the fees low.

“We are thrilled to receive this generous endowment from The Bernard Osher Foundation,” said Monica Orozco Obando, vice provost of Extended Learning at UNM. “This is truly a testament to the generosity of our members and the power of the OLLI program at UNM. We would not be celebrating this wonderful gift today if it were not for the hard work and dedication of the staff and all of our OLLI volunteers and members.”

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UNM was initiated through a grant from the Osher Foundation in 2007. With more than 1,200 members, OLLI offers over 300 academically-based classes over three semesters, in four locations around central New Mexico, taught by current and retired faculty and community experts. OLLI at UNM is one of 119 Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes in the United States and the only one in New Mexico.

“OLLI, at its heart, is a community. Our volunteers, members, sponsors, and instructors have created a community based on shared intellectual interests” said Maralie BeLonge, OLLI at UNM Program Supervisor. “This endowment will allow us to continue providing unique and valuable programs to our members and the community as well as helping us keep the program fees affordable.”

Members act as volunteers and play an important part in the program, providing feedback on goals and direction, reviewing course offerings, recruiting instructors, and providing classroom support during courses. Volunteers led the effort in helping meet the Osher Foundation’s challenge so OLLI at UNM could apply for this recent endowment. In addition to the support provided by the members, sponsors and partners, including UNM Cancer Center, French Funerals & Cremations, Enerpulse Technologies, ReCARnation, Scalo Northern Italian Grill and
Elaine’s in Nob Hill, provide financial support as well as opportunities for members.

The Bernard Osher Foundation is headquartered in San Francisco and was founded in 1977 by Bernard Osher, a respected businessman and community leader. The Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life through support for higher education and the arts. The Bernard Osher Foundation provides post-secondary scholarship funding to colleges and universities across the nation, with special attention to reentry students.

The Foundation makes grants and endowment gifts to colleges, universities, and other non-profit organizations in four program areas: post-secondary scholarships, lifelong learning institutes for seasoned adults, select integrative medicine programs, and arts and educational organizations. It also supports a national lifelong learning network for seasoned adults.

For more information, visit: OLLI at UNM.