Supporting improved outcomes

John and Nancy Peyton are inspired by what students can do

A former hockey player, John Peyton grew up cheering for the Gophers. When he was ready to give back to the University of Minnesota, his initial thought was to support athletics. But John and his wife, Nancy, decided to focus on helping students, and they began their philanthropic partnership with CEHD. John began at the U in General College, which merged with CEHD in 2006. Few of Nancy’s family members had the opportunity to attend college, so she was especially interested in providing others with access to higher education.

Photo of Nancy and John Peyton
Nancy and John Peyton

“It is so inspirational to see what students can do with additional resources,” she says. “Education is an area where we can make a difference in the world.”

Eventually, John and Nancy established two scholarships and a faculty award in CEHD. 

When the Peytons learned about the Institute of Child Development (ICD) capital project, they were hesitant at first. They enjoyed meeting the individuals who benefited from their generosity and didn’t think supporting a building would be as rewarding. But after talking with CEHD development staff, they realized how their commitment would provide more than just bricks and mortar.

Associate professor Clayton Cook, who holds the John W. and Nancy E. Peyton Faculty Fellowship in Child and Adolescent Wellbeing, also had showed them how innovative research can lead to improved outcomes for youth.

“We realized a gift to ICD would provide an advantage to children in a new way,” says John. “It was a chance to leverage our giving and magnify our impact.”

An updated facility will enable the institute to better meet its mission of advancing developmental science and preparing students for careers in early education fields. 

Both Peytons grew up with a commitment to sharing what they had with others, and they describe philanthropy as “the greatest feeling.” Nancy and John are excited to extend their generosity to a current priority in CEHD.

As the Peytons described it, “The University said, ’We need help with this,’ and we trust that our gifts will be put to use in the best way possible.”

Story by Ann Dingman | Photo by Dawn Villella | Spring/summer 2019