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The name and acronym – Participatory Learning and Teaching Organization, or PLATO – defines us well.

PLATO is a self-directed, volunteer-led, nonprofit organization serving more than 850 lifelong learners living mostly in and around Dane County. Most members are approaching or actively enjoying retirement. All share a passion for learning and a desire to stay engaged with the world and with others who share their interests. No formal education or university affiliation is necessary to join.

Members enjoy:

  • 40 or more participatory courses each Fall and Spring (in-person, virtual and hybrid options)
  • Lectures, socials and events
  • Guest Courtesy Card from UW Libraries (a $50 value)
  • Weekly email updates and member emails to stay in-the-know about courses, lectures, and events

PLATO is about more than information. It’s about interactions. Meet other people with curious minds through classes, events, field and theater trips, and member committees.

We especially value the in-depth friendships we’ve already made, the intelligent curiosity and openness of the people we’ve met, and the wide range of classes.


PLATO, the Participatory Learning and Teaching Organization, is a learning-in-retirement organization that relies on active member involvement to develop and provide participatory learning, teaching, and social opportunities for members. PLATO also financially supports educational opportunities for learners of all ages in greater Madison.

Core Value

Be an inclusive and welcoming organization to all members of the greater Madison community who wish to continue learning and/or teaching in retirement.

PLATO is a member run organization

PLATO is a 501(c)(3) organization run by its members who contribute their time and effort to carry out the administrative tasks.

PLATO members share their expertise, skills, and talents to keep the organization strong and vibrant. We are always looking for more members to help keep PLATO running. If you would like to become involved in PLATO’s administration, contact any Board Director or Committee Chair.

Talking About PLATO

Your neighbor asks “So what is this PLATO thing you go to?” Do you find yourself stumbling through an explanation? You’re not alone. The Communication Committee found that members were wanting a concise and easy description of PLATO that would help them explain its benefits to friends and acquaintances.

There already are a number of formal descriptions of PLATO, including a comprehensive mission statement, but our goal was to give you a short, compelling sentence (see Descriptor below) to express your experience with PLATO and its offerings.

So whether you show someone the PLATO Logo that spells out our full name or share the Descriptor sentence below, be sure to add what PLATO has meant to you – courses, lectures, plays, tours, meet-ups with colleagues – however PLATO helps spark your love of learning.

Our Logo:


Our Descriptor:

PLATO is a community of intellectually curious adults, typically 50 and over,
which explores subjects of interest through member-led discussion groups,
travel and cultural activities.

Today PLATO has 850+ members. That's an impressive number of individuals who value how PLATO enriches their lives. Imagine how many additional people could join and enjoy the PLATO community if they were aware of it and understood its potential. Please tell your friends about PLATO and share the experience!

PLATO is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization supported in part by:

for more information, contact us at:


6209 Mineral Point Road #203
Madison, WI 53705

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