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.”

A major goal of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute 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. The results of that survey were shared with the whole membership at a meeting in December 2013. In part, the results indicated:

  • 53% of respondents strongly agreed with the statement, “Increasing racial/ethnic diversity in OLLI’s membership is personally important to me.”
  • 43% of respondents strongly agreed with the statement, “OLLI is a welcoming environment to people of diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds.”
  • 40% of respondents strongly disagreed with the statement, “My experiences as an OLLI member have added to my awareness of racial/ethnic differences.”

Subsequently, about 40 members participated in a one-day workshop designed to increase sensitivity to achallenges inherent in white privilege. The workshop led to the desire to formulate programs to help OLLI develop as a diverse community.

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.

Here are some of the programs and collaborations we have initiated to help OLLI members be more inclusive and more fully understand our community:

  • “Rosenwald”: The Remarkable Story of a Jewish Partnership with African American Communities: Screening of a documentary followed by a panel discussion with alumni and friends of the Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School.
  • Guest speaker: A talk by Dr. Sharon Kelly West, registered nurse, international speaker and published author, focusing on healthcare disparities and culturally appropriate approaches to medical care inclusive of the topic of cultural humility.
  • Racial Disparity in Our Community: A four-part virtual series focusing on these major areas reflecting racial disparity in our community: healthcare, criminal justice, education and economics. Each session included participation by local leaders, professionals, Asheville/Buncombe County community members and activists in their respective roles. This was a coordinated effort to raise awareness and to inspire engagement and advocacy.

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.

Please get involved by contacting the members of the Inclusion Committee. 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.


Local Organizations

  • ABCCM (Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry): ABCCM provides emergency assistance to anyone in need regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion or disability.
  • ACLU Western North Carolina Chapter: Since 1965, the ACLU of North Carolina has been North Carolina’s guardian of liberty – working in courts, the General Assembly, and communities to protect and advance civil rights and civil liberties for all North Carolinians.
  • The Arc of Buncombe County: The Arc of Buncombe County exists to empower children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to realize their highest potential through advocacy, education, programs and family support.
  • Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity: Founded in 1983, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity was the first Habitat affiliate in North Carolina. Through Habitat homeownership and home repair programs, nearly 1,700 adults and children in Buncombe County have achieved the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build a better future.
  • Asheville Buncombe County NAACP: With 2,200 units across the nation, the NAACP is the home of grassroots activism for civil rights and social justice.
  • Asheville Buncombe Institute of Parity Achievement (ABIPA): ABIPA promotes economic, social, and health parity achievement for African Americans and other under-served populations through advocacy, education, research, and community partnerships.
  • Asheville City Schools Foundation: The mission of Asheville City Schools Foundation is to implement bold strategies, fund big ideas, and engage the community to increase excellence with equity for all children in our schools.
  • BeLoved Asheville: BeLoved Asheville creates innovative solutions to some of the toughest challenges we face as a community.
  • Black AVL Demands: An intergenerational collective of Black leaders in Asheville.
  • Blue Ridge Pride: Blue Ridge Pride promotes equality, safety, and quality of life for western North Carolina’s LGBTQ and allied communities, working as a united community through advocacy, celebration, education and service.
  • Building Bridges: The mission of Building Bridges is to dismantle racism by fostering relationships that respect diversity, seek understanding and encourage action.
  • Carolina Jews for Justice: Carolina Jews for Justice fights for a just, fair, and compassionate North Carolina.
  • Center for Participatory Change: CPC’s vision is collective liberation. CPC creates spaces for learning, healing and relationship building.
  • Christians for a United Community: Christians for a United Community is an organization of churches, lay people and clergy which works to dismantle the root causes of racism and disparity.
  • Coach Tate Foundation: The mission of the Coach Tate Foundation is to provide scholarships, leadership development, and character building through innovative educational opportunities with a focus on sports, music, and art for children in Asheville and surrounding counties.
  • The Color of Asheville: The Color of Asheville is a network of connection serving and celebrating Asheville’s African American Community.
  • CoThinkk: CoThinkk is dedicated to social change philanthropy by investing time, talent, and treasure to accelerate positive changes in communities of color in Asheville and Western North Carolina.
  • Democracy North Carolina: Democracy North Carolina’s mission is to help North Carolinians achieve meaningful pro-democracy reform.
  • Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation: Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation (EMSDC) is a non-profit organization which serves the Asheville Buncombe community in property development, economic development and access to human services.
  • Homeward Bound of WNC: Homeward Bound of WNC focuses on ending homelessness with permanent housing, utilizing the best practice model of Housing First.
  • Hood Huggers International: Hood Huggers International, LLC builds greater communication, connection and wealth in systematically marginalized neighborhoods in the Affrilachian region through the arts, environment and social enterprise.
  • Irene Wortham Center: The Irene Wortham Center provides comprehensive, quality residential and day services for children and adults with developmental and/or socioeconomic challenges.
  • MANNA Food Bank: MANNA’s mission is that the people of Western North Carolina can go to work or look for work, go to school, play, worship and sleep without the burden of hunger.
  • Open Doors of Asheville: The mission of Open Doors of Asheville is to strengthen community by eliminating the race-based achievement gap for students through education.
  • Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice: The Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice engages diverse communities to lift up the life and legacy of activist, feminist, Episcopal priest, and LGBTQ+ community member, the Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray, in order to address enduring inequities and injustice in our nation.
  • Racial Justice Coalition: The Racial Justice Coalition (RJC) is a broad-based alliance of individuals and organizations committed to addressing systemic racism and state-sanctioned violence against Black people and those most impacted by poverty, criminalization and mass incarceration.
  • Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ): SURJ exists to provide onramps for white people and people with privilege to center and follow Black and Brown leadership to dismantle racism locally and in collective action across the nation.
  • UNC Asheville Center for Diversity Education: Each year the Center for Diversity Education, through exhibits, road shows, a lending library, and staff development opportunities, provides direct and indirect programming to over 20,000 students, teachers, and citizens throughout WNC.
  • United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County: The primary goal of United Way is to create a united and resilient community where everyone belongs and everyone thrives. United Way mobilizes and supports a diverse network of people, partners, and resources to co-create opportunities for every person in our community to live free from poverty and injustice.
  • YMI Cultural Center: The YMI Cultural Center’s mission is to promote cultural preservation and elevate Black excellence through community engagement, advocacy, leadership development and economic justice.
  • YWCA of Asheville: The YWCA mission is to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.


  • America’s Original Sin by Jim Wallace
  • A More Perfect Reunion by Calvin Baker
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Beyond Diversity by Rohit Bhargava and Jennifer Brown
  • Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper
  • Forward Together: A Moral Message For The Nation by Reverend William J. Barber III
  • Healing Racial Divides by Terrell Carter
  • Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
  • How the World is Passed by Clint Smith
  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
  • Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad
  • My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem
  • Native Son by Richard Wright
  • On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon Reed
  • Racism Not Race by Joseph L. Graves, Jr. and Alan H. Goodman
  • Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock
  • Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton & Tracy Martin
  • Revive Us Again: Vision and Action in Moral Organizing by Rev. William J. Barber III
  • Rising Out of Hatred by Eli Saslow
  • Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • Some of My Best Friends by Tajja Isen
  • The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James H. Cone
  • The Economic Case for LGBT Equality by M.V. Lee Badgett
  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman
  • The Third Reconstruction by Rev. William J Barber III
  • The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
  • White Fragility by Robin Diangelo


Podcasts and Videos

Other Resources

  • Anti-Racism Daily: A daily email designed to dismantle white supremacy.
  • BOLD: BOLD (Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity) is a national training intermediary focused on transforming the practice of Black organizers in the US to increase their alignment, impact and sustainability to win progressive change.
  • Cards on Race: A dynamic tool to examine race in America.
  • Equal Justice Initiative: Founded by Bryan Stevenson, the Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.
  • Poor People’s Campaign: In 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others called for a “revolution of values” in America. They sought to build a broad, fusion movement that could unite poor and impacted communities across the country. Their name was a direct cry from the underside of history: The Poor People’s Campaign. Today, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has picked up this unfinished work.
  • Repairers of the Breach: Repairers of the Breach is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) tax-exempt not-for-profit organization that seeks to build a moral agenda rooted in a framework that uplifts our deepest moral and constitutional values to redeem the heart and soul of our country.
  • The Trayvon Martin Foundation: The Trayvon Martin Foundation brings awareness to ending senseless gun violence.
  • Urban Renewal Impact: A voice for uprooted communities with a focus on the Southside of Asheville, NC.
  • WNC Social Justice Advocacy Guide: This site has been created in order to provide a list of Resources and possible Allies for those interested in social justice, systems advocacy and public policy.
  • Yoruba (Local Black-Owned Businesses): Yoruba is a national directory of local Black-owned businesses.