Academy for Lifelong Learning

LLI Spotlight: Janna Overstreet, Executive Director, Lifelong Learning Academy of Sarasota, FL

By Peter Spiers

The Lifelong Learning Academy (LLA) of Sarasota, FL, was founded in 1994. While the Academy has had a long relationship with the University of South Florida (USF) and has been housed at USF’s Sarasota-Manatee campus, it is an independent 501(c)(3) organization. That’s about to change. On June 1, 2016, LLA will complete a merger with the Ringling College of Art and Design and move further toward its twin goals of being the lifelong learning program of choice in Sarasota County and contributing to the county’s economic development by helping attract retirees to the area. LLA will take a new name—the Ringling College Lifelong Learning Academy—and will be incorporated into the college’s Continuing Studies and Special Programs unit. While the Academy will initially occupy temporary space, it will eventually take up residence alongside the Sarasota Museum of Art in the rehabbed historic Sarasota High School, a classic Collegiate-Gothic style building erected in 1926. In addition to solving LLA’s space needs, the merger will enable it to expand its outreach to working boomers and its intergenerational programming.

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LLI Spotlight: Jeff Shinaman, Executive Director, Academy for Lifelong Learning (ALL), SUNY Empire State College

By Peter Spiers

The Academy for Lifelong Learning at SUNY Empire State College was founded by volunteers in 1992 and has since grown to 375 members, with a 40% spike in membership in the last year alone. Jeff Shinaman, ALL’s Executive Director, attributes the recent growth to a change in membership dues and the class fee structure. Formerly a flat annual fee of $250 for all the courses you wanted at no extra charge, the model now combines $50 annual membership dues with a per-semester fee of $50 for the first course and $25 for each additional course. Each spring and fall eight-week term features about 30 classes (or “study groups” as they’re called at this lifelong learning institute) led by volunteer facilitators who are a mix of ALL members and local community representatives. In addition to multi-week classes, ALL offers several one-time lectures each semester, free to members and their guests, featuring speakers such as Memory Athlete Brad Zupp. ALL is located in Saratoga Springs, NY, home to the famous Saratoga Race Course and close to prime vacation destinations Lake George and Adirondack Park. Saratoga Springs has become a retirement destination with a growing 60+ population.

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