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The Bernard Osher Foundation awarded Cal Poly’s Continuing Education program a $100,000 grant for the third consecutive year.

The grant will help fund the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, which is a branch of Continuing Education that offers programs primarily for people aged 50 and up who are retired or semi-retired, said John Houser, academic program administrator for Continuing Education.

“Cal Poly has this program in coordination with the Osher board and we develop courses that are of interest to people in the community,” he said. “The courses range from the academically rigorous to just fun.”

The 42 courses offered this fall include Lawyers and our Legal System, Driver’s Ed for Cyclists, Gardening for Victorians, Port San Luis Lighthouse Hike, Ghosts of the Central Coast, Fossils and Geography of Nipomo, Parenting for Grandparents and many more.

Dennis Parks, Cal Poly’s Continuing Education dean, emphasized that the courses are offered at a minimal cost ($10 per class), making them accessible to the community.

“I think it bridges the gap between the university and the community in the sense that it provides one more access points for the people to come to the campus,” he said.

Though some classes are offered on campus, many are offered off campus in libraries, at the PG&E Auditorium in Pismo Beach and even outdoors.

“We want to keep them off campus for logistical reasons,” Houser said.

With 210 memberships for fall and 214 from summer, Houser said the institute is in healthy form.

“I would think that the Osher Foundation would also be really happy about (the turnout),” he said.

Aside from offering members of the community inexpensive learning opportunities, Parks said there are many other objectives for the institute to fulfill.

“One (goal) is to provide academically stimulating courses and programs for those in the larger community,” he said. “It’s a nice way to promote university outreach and public service and also a way for those 50 and over to get together in educational venues.”

Marketing and Public Relations Manager Jeanene Robinson stressed the importance of the social aspect of the program.

“One thing that is great about this program is that for people who retire to our area and don’t know anyone, it creates a great place to meet new people,” she said. “There were groups of tables filled with old and new friends at (our last) social. Even people who came alone soon felt part of the group.”

Parks said the institute is different from other continuing education programs because people who take courses become members of the institute. The institute is ultimately sustained because of these members.

The Osher Foundation was created by Bernard Osher in 1977 and it provides grants to programs primarily in California and Maine.

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