Your Cart




| By Wellvyl Media Editorial

There is a reason that the more prominent neighborhoods and places are where there are more educated people. Those who have more degrees, make more money. Yes. But with the lines being blurred due to gentrification. There is a little bit more of a mix of education levels. And nowadays you can not even tell by appearance where that person fits on the scale. This can be a barrier for people to create meaningful connections. There is something special when you can teach someone and learn from every type of person.

Education for equity.

This is the University of Orange's tagline. The Free People's University recently celebrated 10 years of service to the city of Orange. And it is all about teaching, communicating, and storytelling. This has been a proven method of community development and social wellness. You are now looked at as an asset, and vessel for the change that you want to see in the world.
I am writing about them because I think something like this would work well in New York City. Of course, the strategy would have to be different scaled for such a large population. But starting off small, by borough would be ideal. Bringing people in, who feel helpless towards the current political climate. Can now start locally, and help those around them. And not just help, but also learn from our neighbors.
What is one of the best ways to connect with someone? Or even with yourself? Learn something new. Identify what you are good at, and teach someone else. This can even validate your hobby. We are thirsting to learn, consume and connect. Why not do that with nice people, where you can listen and learn from each other in real life.
And best of all, because the University of Orange, passionately called U of O by the insiders, it is all free. Classes cost nothing and are mostly suggested donation. I have learned how to make beer, coding, music theory, and more. And it is lifelong. It never ends! You can learn and teach forever.
The University of Orange is a free people’s university that builds collective capacity for people to create more equitable cities.  We solve the problems of our world by learning to see the richness of our cities, becoming lifelong learners, participating in civic life, and having fun with our neighbors.

By 2017, the University of Orange is known as a fun, free university that facilitates Orange residents and their neighbors teaching and learning from each other.  We promote involvement in and influence on city governance through our graduation requirements and course offerings.  We communicate our brand of urbanism, based on neighborhood stability, equity, collective well-being and joy.  We regularly convene celebratory and educational events, such as placemaking, neighborhood tours, and urbanism summits.  We involve Orange’s youth intrinsically in our programs.

UofO’s many and varied courses are offered and advertised quarterly, the majority held in-person and some via the web.  Some classes are given by our partner organizations.  Classes are available to people of all ages, physical ability and educational background.  People clamor to teach courses using their expertise to enrich others; 50 people teach classes at least once a year.  We graduate 200 students a year, with our BFree, MFree and FreeD degrees.

UofO is known for recording and publishing the history of Orange and celebrating its residents.  We are visible in and to Orange, with street-level storefronts, face-to-face classes and events, participation in Orange activities, and a strong internet presence.  We have a small paid staff and a dedicated corps of volunteers. Our Board is active and representative of all of UofO’s stakeholders.  University of Orange operates primarily with gifts, grants and goodwill, and provides opportunities for graduates to financially support its operations.  We raise money and have fun doing it.

All involved are proud to be associated with UofO and talk about it wherever we go.  We who live in and near this community intend to improve its social, political, physical and cultural assets.  The University of Orange is a fun and joyful means toward these serious goals.



  1. Develop educational platform, including courses, teachers, partnerships, & catalog.
  2. Communicate our brand of urbanism.
  3. Record the history of Orange.
  4. Develop funds and other resources to support programs, courses, staff and infrastructure.
  5. Build infrastructure to support programs, courses and other activities, including staff, volunteers, storefronts, web presence, visibility.
  6. Celebrate all our accomplishments, however small!

The University of Orange grew out of the 2007 celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the fight to desegregate the schools in Orange, NJ.  The U of O was founded by longtime community activists and others passionate about the city.  The U of O was started with the principle that the city itself is a university.

“In 2007 I came back to my hometown to celebrate the 50th anniversary of organizing to end school segregation. I was not surprised that the city, which had lost its industry and been cut by a highway, was confused about the future. I was surprised that, despite those setbacks, there was tremendous vitality in the people and the built environment. It occurred to me that in that energy was a tool for addressing the confusion. I was proud to join with friends and neighbors to found the University of Orange. We are finding a third path – avoiding disinvestment and gentrification – so that we can reimagine this wonderful city.”

– a note from Board President, Mindy Thompson Fullilove, MD

The University of Orange is a free people’s university that builds collective capacity for people to create more equitable cities.  We solve the problems of our world by learning to see the richness of our cities, becoming lifelong learners, participating in civic life, and having fun with our neighbors.