Public, Society Benefit

The Nittany Valley Society

State College, PA


The Nittany Valley Society fosters a spirit of community across time for Penn Staters and the Nittany Valley's people. While traditional conservationists preserve a special environmental landscape, we conserve a remarkable cultural landscape by sharing the spirit, traditions, and relationships that shape our communities as distinctively as Mount Nittany herself.

Ruling Year



Tom Shakely

Main Address

P.O. Box 75

State College, PA 16804 USA


Cultural Conservancy





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (W01)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (B01)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Programs + Results

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Our programs

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Nittany Valley Press

Nittany Valley Heritage Walk

Novak Fellows

Where we workNew!

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

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What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

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What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

It's popular to describe civic and social initiatives as "mission-driven" enterprises. It's implied that missions are meant to reshape the culture and communities they're a part of, and in its most aggressive formulations, this translates into nonprofits set up to forcibly alter or even oppose the culture and communities that gave rise to them in the first place. The Nittany Valley Society was founded to be different, and was founded to capture the distinctive spirit of place that permeates Central Pennsylvania's Nittany Valley communities. As a "cultural conservancy," The Nittany Valley Society exists to capture as many of the stories of the past and present (in essence, its history) not as museum-piece artifacts, but for the purpose of living encounter with the attitudes, personalities, and perspectives of that place. In this way, future generations will be better equipped to continually recover and reintegrate the best aspects of the legacy of the Nittany Valley while contributing to the unfolding story of the valley.

As a cultural conservancy, The Nittany Valley Society exists not to preserve bits of history for static museum exhibitions, but rather to foster a dynamic "spirit of community" by connecting people to one another. Whereas traditional land-focused conservancies exist to preserve environments and landscapes for people to enjoy into perpetuity, The Nittany Valley Society exists to connect individuals to one another and to the often little-known or invisible histories they share to enrich the community experience. A specific example of this is The Willow Gathering, an annual gathering of students, townspeople, professors, alumni, civic and business leaders, and trustees. The Willow Gathering exists to break down the "information silos" that arise especially within college communities, where individuals often end up connecting with one another (students with students, professors with professors, townspeople with their neighbors) but not inter-connecting in a way where shared experience can enhance the specialness of place that defines Central Pennsylvania's Nittany Valley.

The Nittany Valley Society's is a volunteer-led nonprofit, overseen by a diverse and experienced Board of Directors who meet quarterly to ensure strategic objectives are being met at the same time that new opportunities are identified. While the executive leadership is based in State College, the board itself consists of members who live and work across the country. These organizational strengths translate into practical capabilities in terms of experienced and well-executed speaking, marketing, communications, and publishing initiatives. In particular, a mantra of the executive leadership is planning and execution designed for impact across "months, years, and decades" rather than short-term, reactionary planning.

The impact of The Nittany Valley Society can be felt throughout the community in a few ways. First, through its emphasis on earned-income and sustainability in its approach to corporate governance that is designed to create an model for startup nonprofits to emulate in the future. Second, through Nittany Valley Press, which stewards and shares a special collection of books with the aim of surfacing little-known but momentous aspects of community history in order to make the past more accessible in the present. A final indicator of community impact can be felt through the connections fostered between students, alumni, townspeople, and professors across generations through special gatherings and public recitations.

The Nittany Valley Society's primary focus at the present time is the creation of the Nittany Valley Heritage Walk, a $1.5 million community development initiative meant to raise funds for the perpetual care and conservation of the Public Art Academy's "Inspiration Mural" on Heister Street in Downtown State College, while also cultivating a desire for students, townspeople, alumni, and friends to honor and memorialize people who have been an inspiration in their lives.

External Reviews


The Nittany Valley Society

Fiscal year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Board Leadership Practices

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Not Applicable


Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Not Applicable


Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Not Applicable


Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Not Applicable


Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

Not Applicable