FAIRFIELD — Officials from the Kennebec Valley Community College Foundation announced recently that the college has received a $1 million gift from the Lunder Foundation.

The funds will be put into the KVCC Foundation Lunder Scholars Endowment, which awards scholarships to students in order to break down financial barriers, the college said in a news release.

“These scholarships will help students to accomplish their educational and career goals,” the release read. 

“It’s incredibly generous, we are just overwhelmed with joy by this,” KVCC President Richard Hopper said during a phone interview Tuesday. “The Lunders are such faithful supporters of the college and we’re so grateful for that.”

Richard Hopper Richard Hopper

Peter and Paula Lunder, Waterville natives and philanthropists, have invested in other ventures around Central Maine including: a $5 million gift to help establish the Center for Innovation in Education at Thomas College; more than $100 million to establish the Lunder Institute for American Art at Colby College; and $3 million to an arts collaborative building in downtown Waterville.

Funds from the Lunder Scholars Endowment also have a preference to go toward students who are former employees of the Dexter Shoe Co. or descendants of former employees.

“The founder of Dexter Shoe, Harold Alfond and his cousin Peter Lunder, who was the president of the company, they were the families that led and they feel a great connection to the community,” Hopper said. “They feel a connection to the descendants and feel it’s very important to support that generation.”

Hopper said that the donation has come at a time where financial assistance is crucial due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 “This landmark gift makes it possible for KVCC to continue offering comprehensive financial aid precisely when our population is facing record high unemployment and other hardships brought on by the pandemic,” Hopper said in a prepared statement. 

The KVCC Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was established in 1991 with the goal of helping students.

Since its inception, the foundation has given more that $2.2 million worth of scholarships to more than 2,500 students at KVCC.

Hopper said that on a yearly basis, the foundation gives around $220,00o worth of scholarships.

During the 2019-2020 school year, 256 students received a scholarship through the foundation.

“We are honored to gift KVCC this award and to continue the tradition of the Lunder Scholars Endowment Fund,” Kevin Gillis, president of the Lunder Foundation, said in a prepared statement. “We are excited to see the progress and advancements the award recipients make in their education and the Maine workforce, and are delighted to be a part of their success.”

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