The Academy is Denver’s only entirely independent lifelong learning organization.  We rely upon membership and tuition fees and generous donations to fund all Academy programs and we are sustained by the immense effort of our volunteer course leaders, board members and Academy Volunteers to bring a rich and stimulating learning experience to our members.  Because we are completely self-governing, all revenues are applied to Academy activities for the benefit of members and no funds are paid or transferred to any parent or associated organization.  We are a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) Colorado corporation (Tax ID No. 09815974).

1-Serious-StudyHOW DID WE START?

The Academy was formed in December of 2002 by a group of men and women who wanted to bring stimulating intellectual, cultural, and social opportunities to adults in the Denver area. The founders were all volunteers who saw a significant need for an independent and intellectually focused LLI program in Denver. We began by offering two free classes in a chilly building in the early spring of 2003 and we’ve continued to grow rapidly as those who share our goals and objectives join us and bring their friends.

We now offer over 40 courses per term in beautiful and comfortable classroom facilities.


There are over 500 LLI’s nationwide generally devoted to the same goals, but often individually quite different from each other. Each is tailored to meet the individual needs and tastes of its own community of members. We at The Academy choose to focus on delivering intellectually stimulating and rigorous courses in a welcoming environment using the latest electronic presentation support technology. We also expect our volunteer course leaders to demonstrate expertise in their subject and have a well-structured course plan. Our members strongly support this model; we’ve experienced remarkable growth over the years. Other LLI’s might be more oriented towards self-help or small-group conversational types of classes (often called peer learning) with course facilitators steering the group and managing the group discussion.  This model has also been successful for some.

The Academy differs from other LLI’s in the age of our participants. Most LLI’s limit their membership to retirees, those over 55, or some similar restriction. We do not restrict membership by age. As a result, our membership tends to be younger, more active, and more generationally diverse than that found in other LLI’s.


Academy members are interesting people, just like you, who enjoy learning and gaining new knowledge and skills. They are typically over 45, each with his/her own unique background and interests and all with intellectual curiosity.

Our courses and respected course leaders attract participants who bring a wealth of life experience and knowledge with them, as well as eager-to-learn classmates who are knowledgeable in other areas but are just being introduced to a new topic. The combination provides a highly exciting learning experience for all.


One of our founding principles is that there should be at least one expert in the room. Our course leaders are typically scholars, current or retired faculty, and/or professional practitioners–all eager to share their passion for their field of study with participants. We expect our volunteer course leaders to demonstrate expertise in their subject and have a well-structured course plan that is approved by the Curriculum Committee prior to the course being offered.


Course formats include lectures, small-group discussions, and hands-on skill-building. Our unpressured courses do not include term papers, tests, or exams, and they typically attract over 1,000 enrollments per term from our active following of over 3,000 participating members. Participation in class is purely voluntary. Some members have a lot to say and some choose to remain silent throughout the course. It’s up to you. Our course leaders are trained to support a comfortable level of interaction that encourages but does not require active involvement from each course member.


We are completely self-governing. The all-volunteer Board of Directors is drawn from the membership and selected by a Board nominating committee comprised of active Academy members. Board members are selected based upon their judgment, demonstrated passion for learning, willingness to pitch in and dedication to the Academy. Unlike many LLI’s, our Board is executory, not merely advisory, and has complete decision-making authority over all matters of policy. The Board considers only the needs of the members and remains undistracted by other demands or decision-makers. This both empowers the Board and also frees it to consider only the best interests of the Academy and its members in making policy and financial decisions.

One of our founding and continuing goals is to provide the best possible courses at the lowest possible cost to our members. We pride ourselves on both our efficiency and our low costs of overhead and operation. Execution of Board-determined policy and day-to-day management of Academy business is carried out by a paid staff, including Co-Executive Directors and three part-time assistants–despite our large size. Our lean but effective management structure is an important factor in meeting that objective.


Tuition and membership fees are set each year with the objective of covering the projected costs of operation. Over our first decade, we have typically run a small operating surplus, on average, and we maintain that aggregate surplus as an operating reserve. Our lean and highly efficient operating model allows us to operate in the black from the membership fees and tuition charges collected each term.

We do, however, gratefully accept voluntary contributions from our members and other sources to finance special projects and two key ongoing features of the Academy: 1) our extensive investment in audio/visual support for our course leaders, and 2) our scholarship program. Our Tax ID number is 09815974.

Since inception, we have invested over $100,000 in our equipment as a result of our generous member contributions over the years. This allows each of our course leaders to make use of the very latest advances in wireless microphones and voice amplification, LCD projection of DVD or computer-generated materials, and audio source amplification–all designed to enhance the learning experience. The significant support of our members demonstrates both their generosity and the value they ascribe to the emphasis we place on technology in the classroom.

Double click on our pie charts below to admire them in a larger format.

FY17 Pie Expend AcademyFY17 Pie Revenue Academy