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The Valade Family Gifts $3.5 Million in Seed Funding for Northern Vermont University’s Learning and Working Community

Gift is Largest in Vermont State Colleges System’s History 

Northern Vermont University (NVU) is thrilled to announce that it has received a gift of $3.5 million from Lyndon Alumnus Mark Valade ’78 and his wife Molly. The gift is in support of NVU’s Learning and Working Community and is by far the largest contribution ever received by the Vermont State Colleges System. 

The gift will help build the NVU Learning and Working Community–a partnership between NVU and local businesses and organizations throughout northern Vermont to formalize career pathways and provide hands-on learning opportunities for students. These partnerships will encourage students to stay and work in Vermont by providing advantages in professional networking and opportunities for future employment, helping to solve the acute Vermont workforce shortage. 

“We are grateful to the Valade Family for this transformative gift to help create the NVU Learning and Working Community, which will help drive entrepreneurship, innovation and professional development, encouraging our students to stay in Vermont to pursue their dreams while also helping to meet our state’s workforce needs,” said Elaine Collins, President of NVU. “The Valade Family’s dedication and ongoing support of NVU and the Northeast Kingdom is reflected in this project as it touches so many in the community: high school students, college students, employees looking to “upskill” or change careers, employers, and residents who rely on the university for their educational, cultural, and economic quality of life. We are touched by the Valade Family’s commitment to philanthropy.” 

NVU will align academic degree and certificate programs to provide pathways for lifelong learning, enabling on and off ramps that include certification and associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees as well as mid-career skills certificates as students pursue their interests, careers, and education. By making work experiences available to students throughout the university and within the curriculum, students will be able to “earn while they learn” thereby reducing the cost of earning a higher education degree. This unique program will attract and retain students and continue NVU’s vital role in further supporting the development of a thriving economy for northern Vermont.  

Mark Valade is a Lyndon graduate and long-time supporter of the University. “Molly and I are grateful to be in the position to help fund the NVU Learning and Working Community,” shared Valade. “We hope other alumni and friends will join us in supporting this new, innovative direction in teaching NVU has undertaken. The education I received at Lyndon was instrumental in my first partnership: the Darion Inn Restaurant in East Burke. It was there that I was first introduced to the business community in the Northeast Kingdom and all that it had to offer. NVU plays such an important role in the lives of its students and is vital to northern Vermont.” 

The gift will be fulfilled across three years, helping build a sustainable program that embraces NVU’s mission and strategic plan. The gift will establish the High-Impact Endowment Fund-Lyndon and contribute to the already established High-Impact Endowment Fund-Johnson to create an annual resource in support for transformative academic initiatives, including paid student internships. NVU will use the gift for curriculum development of stackable credits and workforce development along with career preparation and aligning curriculum and partnership development in support of internship and on-campus work opportunities in the Learning and Working Community.