CLL students in the culinary lab. Photo courtesy of the SBCC Center for Lifelong Learning.

Want to enjoy a Cajun-style outdoor party on the beach, learning how to fry catfish and make gumbo? Or how about practicing mindfulness for harmony, health, and happiness? Learn the guitar, get fit with Zumba, or work with wood? At the SBCC Center for Lifelong Learning (CLL), all of this is possible, and more. With more than 375 classes every term divided into 25 different program areas, students have an array of options to keep their bodies and minds on the move. And with the SBCC Foundation providing tuition assistance, classes remain accessible to the Santa Barbara community. “I feel that this is an extraordinary opportunity that the college provides, and the foundation supports, for people in the community,” says CLL Executive Director Andy Harper. “The CLL is a real treasure that is an integral part of people’s lives.”

The CLL is one of the most comprehensive community education programs in the state, providing a great resource for the Santa Barbara community. The center is always soliciting feedback and suggestions for new classes, which results in 15-20 percent new classes every term. Classes are taught by teachers who are local experts, and are taken by local community members, which makes for a real community flavor. “The CLL is definitely a community-driven program,” said Harper. “Part of the vision is to make the CLL the educational, cultural, and community hub for Santa Barbara – a place where the students and teachers can make friends, and see each other on a regular basis. It goes beyond the learning as people meet here and develop a community.”


The refurbished sewing lab at the SBCC Center for Lifelong Learning. Photo courtesy of the SBCC Foundation.

The SBCC Foundation is a long-time supporter of the CLL, most recently working with donors to refurbish both the culinary and sewing labs. Now, culinary students can cook on wonderful new cooking surfaces, pulling food items out of a brand new refrigerator, and watching the chef’s work station from two huge monitors mounted on the walls. Sewing students benefit from a large classroom space with state-of-the-art lighting, special plugs for all the sewing machines, and an EV system. There is a large room behind the sewing lab where students can work or put storage. In addition, the foundation has been a long-time supporter of big events at the CLL including Mind & Supermind, a series of lectures around transformational psychology and the Nonviolent Communication Conference, which focuses on compassionate communication. “Taking classes at the CLL gave me structure, a community of friends, and a passion” says student Linda Mutti. “I would recommend the center to anyone, as the instructors are fantastic. It is not just a wonderful opportunity, but a life-changing experience.”

For students with financial barriers, the CLL offers three tuition assistance awards every year in the amount of up to $125. Students can apply either online or by filling out an application at the Schott or Wake campuses. When the award is received, it goes into the student’s account as an e-voucher, and can be spent down at the student’s discretion. “We aim to keep the quality of the classes as high as possible while keeping fees relatively low,” says Harper. “We are so appreciative of donations and our generous donors. We are especially grateful for all of the assistance we receive from the foundation including their help funding tuition assistance awards.”

With evidence linking the importance of leaning and creating with faster brain development, the CLL provides a crucial resource for Santa Barbara residents to continue exercising their brains no matter where they might be in their lives. “What I have come to realize is that the Center for Lifelong Learning is extremely important in the lives of many people,” says CLL teacher Spencer Sherman. “It provides a focus for their energies, the opportunity for continuing stimulation and growth, and perhaps most importantly, as sense of community.”