Osher Lifelong Learning Institute receives $1 million endowment grant

March 21, 2014

The Bernard Osher Foundation has awarded Bradley University a second $1 million endowment grant for its Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). The announcement was made Wednesday during OLLI’s 20th anniversary celebration on campus.

OLLI is an organization of more than 1000 Peoria-area residents, age 50 and over, who participate in educational travel, classes, lectures, special events, and study groups.

"We are truly grateful to The Osher Foundation for this second endowment and for its confidence in and support of our lifelong learning community," said Janet Lange, Executive Director of Continuing Education and Professional Development.  "We are also very thankful to Bradley, which values OLLI's presence on campus and understands the importance of our program."

The Foundation made the grant to Bradley’s OLLI in recognition of the ongoing excellence of the Institute's programming and the unstinting commitment of its members. It cited the pioneering efforts and vision of the founders of the program saying they established a standard of excellence and a model of active member involvement.

Lifelong learning programs at Bradley began in 1994 with the Institute for Learning in Retirement (ILR).  From its modest beginning with 84 students and 10 classes, the organization has grown to 1,000 members; offered the equivalent of 8,000 hours of classroom learning; developed 200 study groups; and traveled more than 154,000 miles around the globe.

In 2008, the Osher Foundation awarded Bradley a $100,000 grant that established the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. A subsequent $1 million gift from the Foundation in 2010 endowed OLLI, ensuring its long-term viability while recognizing it as a program of national distinction.

The $1 million endowment grant announced yesterday further ensures the organization’s long-term viability enabling Bradley to employ staff to support the program.

The Bernard Osher Foundation, headquartered in San Francisco, was founded in 1977 by Bernard Osher, a respected businessman and community leader. The Foundation seeks to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts.