The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Arkansas (OLLI) is celebrating several successes as it enters its second decade of offering lifelong learning programs. In August, the institute was awarded a second-year $25,000 grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation for achieving 10 percent growth in membership and setting benchmarks with fundraising efforts in back to back years. OLLI received its first capacity building grant in February 2017, growing to more than 600 members and a course enrollment that topped 2,200 for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2018. Additionally, during that same time, OLLI achieved its highest fundraising marks to date through matching gift challenges, raising more than $14,500 in fiscal year 2017, and over $24,500 this past fiscal year. 

Grow the “O” Campaign

Capacity grant funding is provided to Osher Institutes for the purpose of building a culture of philanthropy and increasing the number of dues paying members. “Course fees and membership fees cover about 60 percent of the annual budget”, said Josh Raney, director of OLLI. The Osher Foundation initiative is designed to assist institutes in building the capacity to become more resilient and sustainable going forward, according to Mary Bitterman, foundation president. There are 121 institutes around the country, all of which require fundraising support and membership dues to sustain programs. The capacity grants are invitational only, therefore institutes must meet certain requirements to be offered the opportunity to apply. To receive an invitation to apply for a third year renewal of the capacity grant, specific metrics must be met. These requirements are again to increase the number of members by 10 percent and to improve upon previous fundraising efforts, by the close of the fiscal year ending June 30,

OLLI is a member-driven organization. It provides opportunities to seasoned adults to share intellectual interests, make new friends, explore cultural topics and other thought-provoking subjects, and exchange ideas with peers. To learn more about membership and gift options, or to see the current list of courses visit the OLLI website or email


Click on the links below to read more about the first year capacity grant and fundraising highlights of the past two years.