Sphere College Project

A New World of Learning


Education is a proven marker for both quality-of- life factors as well as for increased citizen participation in the US . Sphere College Project is setting out to introduce a profound new education system – one that has the ability to support more adults in advancing their station in life, quickly and effectively, and positioning them to drive important and necessary social change through community involvement. Sphere is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We believe that the newest generation of educational environments will prioritize students’ needs, including debt-free solutions, guidance and care (through ongoing mentorship) and inspiration (through compelling, interdisciplinary studies). We also believe these new educational environments will be a beacon for social equity. This is Sphere College Project…A New World of Learning!

Our Vision

A world of thriving, caring individuals contributing to the flourishing of the planet and all its inhabitants through inspiring education.

 Our Mission

To provide a nurturing, invigorating and inspiring learning environment for adults where they discover their most important goals and gain the competency to achieve them.

Our Purpose

To provide a welcoming and effective environment for all adults to learn what they need to learn in order to accomplish their desired goals.

Our Values

  • Care
    Giving thoughtful attention to all that we say and do
  • Collaboration
    Working with others to promote cooperation and interconnectedness
  • Diversity
    Seeking out varied perspectives to ensure a comprehensive view and preserve interest and adventure in the creative process
  • Innovation
    Igniting the creative spirit
  • Enjoyment
    Aligning people with the activities that bring them joy
  • Community
    Connecting resources in our community so that everyone can thrive, supporting an environment of inclusion
  • Connection
    Recognizing our shared humanity
  • Personal Development
    Enriching ourselves through learning
  • Openness
    Reflecting on different ideas willingly while cultivating an environment of genuine, heart-centered communication

Our Beliefs

  • We believe that every individual has gifts and talents and the ability to make unique and positive impacts in the community.

  • We believe in access to higher education for all adults who desire it, regardless of circumstances and means.

  • We believe that higher education is most effective in an encouraging and supportive environment with one-on-one mentorship, and personalized curriculum.

  • We believe that non-competitive, competency-based learning maximizes human potential.

  • We believe that effective, high-quality education promotes personal and professional enrichment and results in happy, fulfilled, well-rounded individuals.

  • We believe that high-quality education for more people is a critical factor in solving many of the challenges that humanity is currently facing.

Our Core Principles

  • In all interactions, but especially those where we are challenged or feel the urge to react, we prioritize and make time for understanding.

  • Every person’s viewpoint is considered important, and we support a culture where people get to be heard.

  • A sense of optimism maintains enjoyment in our processes.

  • We view all of our experiences as opportunities for learning.

  • We value all members of our community equally, and seek to include diverse perspectives.

  • We strive to gather information and knowledge before formulating and sharing opinions, and are able to state when we don’t know.

  • We strive for collaborations that are elevating for all.

  • We are continuously creating a welcoming, friendly, effective environment.

  • Empowering, inspiring, high-quality communication is the key to our success: Through open minds and active listening we achieve successful collaborations.

  • We appreciate all that comes to us, and value the journey as much as we value outcomes.

  • Each person has a responsibility to their own success as well as to that of the organization.

  • We do everything with mindfulness toward enhancing the Sphere community, the local community and the world.

  • Everyone in the organization realizes that what we focus on increases. We are always looking to identify what works and do more of it.

The Actualization

Picture this in a year’s time, with the help of Asheville:

  • 100+ adults excited about learning, and creating something new for themselves in life

  • 15+ mentors with a diverse knowledge base and a passion for making a difference in people’s lives

  • 25+ passionate teachers, engaging students in innovative and fun ways

  • 100+ core and specialty classes on a variety of topics

  • 10+ different teaching locations

  • Students and mentors gathering in small groups, dialoguing – fostering a strong, welcoming and safe learning community

  • Everyone at Sphere working together to reach more people in our community and implementing partnership strategies that assist local organizations and businesses while fortifying the local workforce

  • Sphere working with city representatives to reinforce the value of education for all adults who want it

  • Adults pursuing their passions and becoming leaders in the community and powerful agents for change

  • Sphere’s Asheville success enabling us to begin operations in other communities within the state and throughout the nation

  • Asheville, with the help of Sphere, becoming known nationally as an innovative force for change in education in America.

Together, we can do this! And when we have proven its success here, our plan is to duplicate it in other communities throughout the United States, when the time is right.

Our Structure

Sphere is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. We endeavor to create a worker-run initiative where mentors, participants, staff, and eventually teachers all participate in the steering of the organization. We are in the beginning phases of putting our program into action, and are seeking interested community members for participation If you are passionate about creating an educational system that is effective for more members of our community, then please connect with us.


Sphere College Project
Phone: 844-SPHERE1 (844-774-3731)

Email: info AT spherecollege DOT org


(1) Milligan K et al., “Does Education Improve Citizenship? Evidence from the U.S. and the U.K.,” Journal of Public Economics 88, no. 9-10 (2004): 1667-1695, http://escholarship.org/uc/item/6qw5h964

18 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Richard,

    Congratulations on the website, glad to see things moving along…this will be great tool when referring students. Hope all is well. Let’s talk soon.


    Brie Bearden

  2. Hi Richard,
    This looks great! I am looking forward to learning more on Thurs. Thank you for keeping me in the loop and being bold enough to do this. 23 students…outstanding.


    • The number will probably fluctuate (the number who have expressed interest has gone up to 28) and settle down to a smaller number as people think about whether they’re really ready to commit right now, or have committed to something else, but it’s definitely more about quality. This is a really exciting time. Thanks for your enthusiasm and support (you and everyone else!).

  3. Hi Richard,
    I like what you are doing.
    It interests me and moves me.

    • Thanks, Hy, and again to all the others for your words of support. A venture of this magnitude isn’t accomplished in a vacuum. When we pull together we just may achieve something wonderful and potentially transformative for people.

      A new blog entry is in the works. Stay tuned.

  4. Hi Richard

    Glad to see things have started rolling. Congratulations and good luck.


  5. Peggy Farley sent me the video and i am very interested, and delighted that you are doing this. What a project to undertake in these times, but so needed! Thank you. If you would like it, we could put something into the Upattinas School Newsletter and a link on our website – or maybe it’s too soon for that. Let us know.


  6. Hi Richard,

    We spoke today at the Plaza in Phoenixville while I was doing voter registration. Glad I found the site (also facebook – cross posting). I am interested in the school, I’ll continue to gather information from the sites and hope to talk to you again.

    – Greg

  7. It was a pleasure to see some new introjectory thought for our community in Pottstown, Pa. Look forward to working with you. Cheers and Good luck.

    • Hi James, it was very nice to meet you. Thank you for your kind words. I was delighted with the response from Pottstown and will be following up. Stay tuned! -Richard

  8. Richard,
    It was a great pleasure to meet you again, this time
    with ample time to get a good introduction to your
    work with Sphere College. I hope we can follow up our conversation in the near future. Please keep me informed
    about the progress of your work,
    Very fond regards,
    Ron Thomas
    ps kindly respond via my own email

  9. Great project. I live in Lancaster county. Nice to see something like this happening PA.

    • Thanks for the comment, Nathan. And I just checked out your blog. Love the photos. I’ll be checking back to learn more about the plants. Really great.

  10. I’m still a little confused about this project, the college is building a curriculum around what the student wants to learn. So does that mean if I want to be an engineer or physicist, I can learn that from this college?

    • That’s the general idea, but it’s broader than that. We’re dealing with adults who are generally not a good fit for the current model of higher education. The first phase is to give students sufficiently broad experience in multiple areas, and to ensure that they have connected with a passion that will carry them through the challenging tasks of learning that lay ahead. If a student says he or she wants to be a physicist, they need to then convince a panel that this is indeed their passion. Then, with mentorship they will identify the interdisciplinary knowledge they need to accomplish that goal. Chances are they would narrow their goal down considerably more than ‘a physicist’. They will then construct a program of study that—and this is the most important part—fits their learning style, allowing them to go more deeply into the topic. There are many details that don’t fit into comments here, but perhaps that will help explain our model.

      • Free College looks like a bright educational model to me, especially if you’ve read the wealth of the nations by Adam Smith. Having mass amounts of educated individuals by this model would drive the current technology labor market into the future! I’m a current physics major and I want to be a researcher especially for technology such as neural prosthetics, How much convincing do I have to give this panel to let them know I want to one day give them technology that will allow them to walk again as if they had a new limb?