Community Partnerships for the Ages - OLLI at Berkshire Community College
University Partnerships - OLLI at George Mason University
Building Community in a Time of Crisis - OLLI at Northwestern University
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Greetings from the NRC    Jul 2020 15
When you step back to consider the big picture of Osher Institutes - despite the pandemic, protests, and economic breakdowns - the keys to our successes come from strong partnerships. Top on our list of partners are member volunteers. With a typical paid staff of two full-time and two part-time (when not reduced due to furloughs or hiring freezes), it is critical to have well-coordinated volunteers to help run Osher programs. But other partnerships inevitably ripple out from this point. They often include other campus divisions and organizations - libraries, museums, arts, music, history, and science departments, collegiate athletics, and the list goes on. Next comes community partners often through civic, non-profit, or governmental groups, businesses, and cultural organizations. And even partnerships with other nearby colleges and universities come into play. All these diverse groups with their interests and resources prove invaluable in creating a high quality and successful Osher Institute. Particularly in these times of social isolation and home sheltering, partners are even more critical to an Institute and should be heartily appreciated.

This month's newsletter brings you stories of partnership success at three Osher programs from the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts, to Fairfax County in Virginia, and to my town of Chicago, Illinois. These are only representative of the hundreds of other partnerships across the national map of Osher Institutes. The NRC recognizes and recommends constant collaboration through partnerships. They must be nurtured as an OLLI builds trust and value for its partners in return for the wonderful benefits those partners bring to the Institute.

We applaud all of you reading this, as every single one of you is part of this grand nationwide partnership and the alliance that we call the Osher Institute Network.

Thank you, partners!

Steve Thaxton, Executive Director

OLLI at Berkshire Community College
The beautiful Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts are a haven for the arts, nature, and for education. With no lack of opportunities for partnerships, the Osher Institute at Berkshire Community College (OLLI at BCC) frequently joins with arts organizations, community action groups, and with the originating group of colleges in the area that served as the genesis for the LLI that became OLLI at BCC. One of those is Bard College at Simon's Rock. It is a unique college which specifically serves the youngest of undergraduates - those students just past the 10th or 11th grade but already prepared for collegiate level coursework.
Recently, OLLI at BCC and Bard at Simon's Rock teamed up again to offer an online opportunity for their young students and young-at-heart OLLI members to learn together. The subject was important to the older students but no less critical for the younger ones' futures: mismanagement of pensions and the pension crisis. On June 10th, the partner colleges jointly presented a free webinar which focused on the causes and effects of shifting demographics and the inadequacy of savings to support longer lives. The event featured Forbes contributor and nationally recognized authority on pensions  Edward Siedle , and Chris Tobe, a leading pension investment consultant and former member of the Kentucky state pension board.

Now that their classes are online, OLLI at BCC also routinely extends invitations to adult grandchildren of members to join their "Today's Headlines" discussion class. According to OLLI at BCC director Megan Whilden, "Our members love hearing the intergenerational perspectives of younger students and guests on current events. Online learning has opened up new opportunities in surprising ways, from allowing instructors and speakers to teach at a distance, to welcoming our first Canadian member - now we're international!"
Megan further reports an unexpected benefit of recent distance learning offerings is simple convenience. In the widespread, rural communities of the Berkshires, some members prefer the online format allowing less commuting time and expense to get to campus. OLLI at BCC's June 2020 semester had over 30% more registrations than in June 2019, despite offering slightly fewer classes.

Submitted by : Megan Whilden, Executive Director, OLLI at Berkshire Community College

OLLI at George Mason University
University Partnerships
OLLI at George Mason University has forged many unique synergies with its host university, an effort that pays off in spades. For the past 25 years, OLLI at Mason executives and members have volunteered on university boards and committees, donating time and expertise to the University's administrative offices, academic units, colleges and departments. Members have also mentored, participated in research projects and contributed to inter-generational programming. 
This month, Libraries at Mason magazine, circulated widely throughout the university community, spotlighted several successful collaborations between OLLI and the University Libraries. Read the full issue to learn about these important partnerships, including the Special Collections Project recording first-hand oral histories of major historic events like the Vietnam War, from OLLI members Candy and Charley Otstott, Bob Shaffer and John Ware, Sr.; OLLI member Carol Henderson's 40 years of dedicated service to the library as both an employee and a volunteer; and Executive Director Jennifer Disano's work as Vice Chair of the Library Advisory Board. These are the special ties that bind university and Institute, ensuring good will and understanding for years to come. 
Submitted by : Alice Slayton Clark, Communications and Program Associate, OLLI at George Mason University

OLLI at Northwestern University
Building Community in a Time of Crisis 
The COVID-19 crisis has shined a bright light on the devastating impact of economic inequities in Chicago, intensifying the many challenges facing the city prior to the pandemic. OLLI at Northwestern and Leadership Greater Chicago, a prominent Chicago civic leadership development organization, recently co-hosted a virtual Community Forum attended by over 220 OLLI and community members to discuss how collaboration and mutual support are all the more critical now for building cohesion and solidarity. The webinar, "Building Community in a Time of Crisis," explored how Chicago government, business, philanthropic, and community groups are working together to address challenges.
Speakers included Northwestern Professor of Communication Studies Michelle Shumate, and Chicago community leaders Maria Wynne, CEO of Leadership Greater Chicago, Helene Gayle, President and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust, and Candace Moore, Chicago's first Chief Equity and Racial Justice Officer.
A panel discussion followed the presentation with members of the One Chicago for All Alliance, a collaboration of 29 community organizations representing over one million Chicagoans. Panelists included Jake Ament, the Director of Neighborhood Network for Local Initiative Support Corporation (moderator,) Reverend Randall Blakey, Executive Director of Near North Unity Program and Executive Pastor at LaSalle Street Church, Angela Hurlock, Executive Director of Claretian Associates and Board Chair Chicago Housing Authority, and James Rudyk, Executive Director of Northwest Side Housing Center.

Speakers and Panelists explored issues of collaboration, racial equity, and Chicago's future; they emphasized the need for community involvement in policy-making, cross-sector alliances, and remaining proximate for citizens. OLLI members came away inspired by the optimism, passion, eloquence and dedication of community leaders on the front lines of addressing the needs of Chicago's most vulnerable. The co-hosts closed with concrete ways that OLLI and all Chicago-area residents can help. Overall, the forum was successful in highlighting the issues facing Chicago's communities, and actions OLLI members can take to support their city.
Submitted by: Janet Lang & Dick Sullivan, Members, OLLI at Northwestern University

An Advice Column for Osher Institute Staff and Volunteers
dearolliDear Olli
Dear Olli,
I am an Institute director working with my university to determine plans for the fall term. We are unsure if we will be online, on-ground, or a mix of both. It would be of great to know what other Institutes are planning for the fall.
~OLLI Director
Dear OLLI Director,
You are not alone, fall is quickly approaching and many directors are working hard to decide what is the best option for the members, the Institute, and the university. We have heard from some Institute directors that they are planning for all possibilities; a plan for online, for mixed, for on-ground. However, that may not be feasible for you or your OLLI. The good news is that in a recent survey conducted by the NRC, they asked exactly this question. Here are the results from across the network:
As you can see, the majority of Institutes have made the decision to be remote (online) in the fall. There are still many in the same boat as you, with no current decision, but hopefully this information will help you to make that choice.

Have a question for Olli? Please send it in care of Kevin Connaughton (kevin.connaughton@northwestern.edu). 

Quick Tips for Helping Operate an Osher Institute
didyouknowQuick Tip - Share a Video
With the impact of COVID-19 on Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, members, volunteers and staff find themselves on the same uncertain journey. The Osher Institute at Dartmouth is just one of 124 OLLIs that quickly pivoted to online learning for their spring term. Osher Program Manager Lisa King shares the following important message about one way to thank staff and members for all they have done during this time, and to encourage more people to join in the new online community.

"Never before have I recorded a video of myself. I wanted to reach out to my membership and our Study Leaders. I sat down at my laptop with no notes and basically spoke from the heart. It took 4 tries, but I did it! I encourage all Program Directors and Managers to post a video to share with your members and study leaders/instructors. Let them know you miss them and that your program is still here for them. I share my video link so you can see what I did. It's not easy talking to yourself, but it's worth it!"

Quick Tips for Helping Operate an Osher Institute
didyouknowQuick Tip - Members as Class Moderators
While things may look a bit different these days for Osher Institutes, the spirit of volunteerism remains strong and members are stepping up to the plate to learn new ways they can help their OLLIs thrive. 

In the online class environment, it is still helpful to have a class moderator who can assist the instructor with things like attendance, Zoom troubleshooting and Q & A moderation. The Osher Institute at University of Virginia recently put out a call for volunteers for this role, with a bit of incentive.