Inclusion Initiative

Independent Sector, a coalition of nonprofit organizations, defines “Inclusion” this way:

“Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people. It’s important to note that while an inclusive group is by definition diverse, a diverse group isn’t always inclusive. Increasingly, recognition of unconscious or ‘implicit bias’ helps organizations to be deliberate about addressing issues of inclusivity.”

A major goal of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UNC Asheville is to be an inclusive educational community: one that is welcoming to a diversity of people from different backgrounds.

History of the Inclusion Initiative

OLLI launched its Inclusion Initiative in fall 2013 with the formation of a small work group, which later became the Inclusion Committee, reporting to the OLLI Steering Council. The group decided that an important first step was to survey the full membership about its attitudes, inclinations and experiences with diversity and inclusiveness in 2013, resulting in a one-day workshop designed to increase sensitivity to challenges inherent in white privilege. The workshop led to the desire to formulate programs to help OLLI develop as a diverse community, with these efforts growing, expanding and responding to the world around us over 10 years after the formation of the Inclusion Committee.

Mission of the Inclusion Committee

The Inclusion Committee works to:

  • Promote inclusion of people from diverse backgrounds in all OLLI programs
  • Partner with people from diverse backgrounds to offer culturally rich programs, activities and events
  • Position OLLI—both the organization and its members individually—as allies in supporting local community programs that work on behalf of diverse populations
  • Collaborate with all other OLLI standing committees to promote inclusion in all our programs and activities

Inclusion Programming

A key to thriving in life’s second half can be to open ourselves up to new opportunities both within and outside of OLLI. The Inclusion Committee reaches out to various community organizations to learn of activities that may interest our members. Additionally, the Inclusion Committee presents the Just Films and Just Conversations series, inviting University and community members to the table to discuss important issues of the current moment.

Visit the OLLI calendar to learn more about upcoming Just Films and Just Conversations programming.

Please check back soon for a list of past programs and collaborations we have initiated to help OLLI members be more inclusive and more fully understand our community.

Get Involved

Our goal is to raise awareness, grow understanding and inspire members of the OLLI community toward advocacy and action. We encourage you to help us bring OLLI closer to dignifying diversity and embracing equity.

In order to preserve our commitment to inclusion, the Inclusion Committee does not have a permanent chairperson; instead, committee members share the responsibility of chairing meetings. If you have an idea for an inclusion project, know of a potential partner organization, or would like to join the Inclusion Committee, email or call 828.251.6140.


To learn more about the latest conversations around inclusion and diversity, explore the resources and reading lists managed by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

If you would like to get involved with an organization engaged in inclusion and diversity-related work in Western North Carolina, the Western North Carolina Social Justice Advocacy Guide maintains a list of organizations.

To explore resources gathered by the Inclusion Initiative from 2013 to 2023, including local organizations, articles and a reading list, review archived OLLI Inclusion Initiative webpage content.

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