Larry Olds - From Popular Education to Philanthropy
When Larry Olds retired from higher education after 30 years, he contacted the Headwaters Foundation. He had been giving small amounts to various organizations throughout most of his adult life, but realized that his retirement salary was more than he needed and began looking to increase the amount of his donations. Larry first learned about Headwaters’ Donor-Advised Funds through a conversation with Headwaters staff member David Nicholson and decided that it would be a feasible and beneficial way to contribute. After being involved in international and adult popular education circles for a substantial part of his career, it made sense for popular education to be the focus of the fund.
Established in August of 2010, the Larry Olds Popular Education Fund will help Minnesota organizations, activists, and community-based educators to improve their use of popular education in their work. It aims to advance and support quality and quantity of educational opportunities using methodologies intended to raise the critical consciousness of participants. Among a variety of activities, the fund will support co-convening or direct support for popular education meetings, trainings or gatherings where popular education methodology is used, and will provide support for individuals who wish to attend instructor trainings or learn popular education techniques.
Popular education is an important passion of Larry’s. After retiring in 2000 he established a library of popular education and community organizing materials for facilitators and practitioners, and in 2003 began publishing The Popular Education News, an email newsletter designed to share information about those materials and others available online through its global distribution of about 1000 subscribers. In the final and 70th issue of the newsletter, published in August 2011, he discusses education not as a social movement of its own but as an integral part of all social movements. It’s relevant in all social justice areas and helps us to realize the interconnectedness of the social justice movement as a whole. Popular education follows a defined set of teleological and political principles and is focused on empowerment and systematic change, which aligns perfectly with Headwaters’ objectives.
Larry Olds set up this donor-advised fund with the intention of increasing the awareness and usage of popular education in all social, racial, economic, and environmental justice arenas. He is pleased that he is able to give in such a way that supports people and programs with values he shares. Headwaters is extremely excited to have a specialized fund like this supported by such a dedicated social justice activist.