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Osher Wins $1 Million Grant

mary kay shartle galottoThe Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Johns Hopkins University has received a $1 million grant from its parent foundation, a testament to the dedication, success and vision of the academic program geared toward retired adults.

The award comes from the Bernard Osher Foundation, which is based in San Francisco, Calif.

“This generous grant from the Osher Foundation will make it possible for the Osher at JHU program to meet growing community needs, to explore new possibilities and to continue to recruit outstanding lecturers and faculty,” said Mary Kay Shartle Galotto, the director of Osher at JHU.

Osher offers courses, lectures and learning opportunities for semi-retired and retired individuals in Montgomery County, Baltimore and Columbia. The program formally was called the Evergreen Society but changed its name in 2007 when the Bernard Osher Foundation approached Johns Hopkins University with an opportunity to become part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes.

Osher at JHU members and staff worked diligently on the grant application and on raising money. Osher was required to raise $50,000 by summer 2014 to be eligible to apply for the $1 million grant from the foundation. Members raised $82,000.

Former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a Johns Hopkins University alumnus, contributed an additional $25,000. His donation was made in memory of his mother, Charlotte, who died in 2011 at age 102. The Bloomberg-Osher commitment stems from Bloomberg’s relationship with Shartle Galotto and her husband, who was a friend and roommate with Bloomberg when they were students at Johns Hopkins University. The families have remained close through the years, Shartle Galotto said.

Osher proved through its grant application that members support the program and embrace a culture of philanthropy.

“The pioneering efforts and vision of the dedicated  individuals who founded the program in 1986 established a standard of excellence and a model of active member involvement that have become hallmarks of the Institute,” Mary G.F. Bitterman, president of the Osher  Foundation, said in the award letter. “We recognize that the Institute’s success represents the collective achievement of its excellent staff and dynamic community of intellectually vigorous members who give generously of their time, talent and financial resources.

“We applaud, too, the University’s leadership for its steadfast support of the program 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,” Bitterman continued.

Beverly Wendland, the James B. Knapp Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, said she was grateful.

“At Johns Hopkins, we follow the premise that learning is a lifelong activity,” Wendland said. “Osher at JHU allows intellectually curious adults an opportunity to explore big ideas, learn something new about the world around them and engage others who share their desire for scholarly stimulation.”

The grant, she said, will enable Osher to enhance programming.

Osher has been very successful since coming to the Johns Hopkins Montgomery County campus, growing to more than 700 members and adding classes at Asbury Methodist Village. An additional 400 people are on the waiting list. The program offers courses in a variety of subject areas, including urban planning, political science, literature, music and history.

The grant will allow Osher to explore additional area partnerships and locations to accommodate more students, Shartle Galotto said. The grant will also allow Osher to identify larger and better space for the Baltimore Osher program and to upgrade audio-visual technologies. Funds will be used to attract the “very best instructors,” Shartle Galotto said.


CATEGORY: Academics, In The Community