From UNC Asheville, shared Dec. 18:

UNC Asheville’s North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement (NCCCR) will be awarded a $2 million endowment from the Bernard Osher Foundation, with the first half of the endowment expected to be awarded in summer 2012, according to Catherine Frank, NCCCR executive director. This follows a $100,000 grant award from the foundation in June, 2011.

“By becoming part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes network, we secure our place in the national conversation about learning in the second half of life. We will preserve what is unique about the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement, which are our life transition and civic programs, and we will be able to strengthen our College for Seniors, which has been so vital to so many Asheville retirees,” Frank said.

The $2 million endowment, over time, should generate additional income of $80,000-$100,000 per year, which will allow the center to continue to offer high-quality programs at a relatively low cost to its members, she said.

Now in its 25th year, the N.C. Center for Creative Retirement and its programs have been highlighted in CBS Sunday Morning, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and other national publications. It expanded from a single classroom to the 20,000-square-foot Reuter Center, named in honor of Irving J. Reuter, the late industrialist who established the Janirve Foundation. The center has also grown steadily in prominence, winning the prestigious Jack Ossofsky Award from the National Council on Aging as an outstanding educational program.

NCCCR may be known best for its Creative Retirement Exploration Weekend, begun in 1990, and its Paths to Creative Retirement program, begun in 2002, which have had almost 3,200 participants from across the country.

“Our programs have always been ahead of the curve and this funding will allow us to stay there. These programs are unique and we believe that the future of life-long learning will be informed by our offerings,” Frank said.

Within the next couple of years, the NCCCR will be re-named the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC Asheville, Frank said.  The name of the center’s building, Reuter Center, will remain.

“The support of the Janirve Foundation, both in the construction of Reuter Center and last year’s $1 million endowment, has been instrumental in our success and demonstrated to the Osher Foundation the support of our community,” Frank said.

The Osher Foundation, which is based in San Francisco, provides arts, cultural and education grants, and supports programs in lifelong learning and integrative medicine. At this time, there are 119 Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes (OLLI) across the country including OLLI-sponsored programs at UNC-Wilmington and Duke University.

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Angie Newsome is the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at

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