The Richards Group is one of the leading businesses in Windham County, a family-owned independent insurance and financial services firm that’s been in business for three generations. They now serve more than 10,000 clients throughout Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, but they’ve never taken their success for granted.
“We’re a local business, and we feel very strongly that you should give back to the community, particularly the community you take your living from,” said Mark Richards, president of The Richards Group. “As a service company, if you’re not giving back, you’re not treating the equation fairly.”
The Richards Group has been giving generously to Marlboro College since 1980, but Mark was aware of the college long before, having grown up in Brattleboro. Even as a student at Williams College, his positive impression of Marlboro was reinforced by his history professor and mentor Fred Rudolf.
“He would always talk about schools like Marlboro College, where two people are on a bench talking to each other,” said Mark. That’s where education starts—He was a big proponent of that, and he used Marlboro as an example. I heard about it even when I went away to school.”
Marlboro President Tom Ragle was a great friend of Mark’s father, and Mark got to know him when he got out of the service in 1972. “Marlboro was always on our radar, but it’s nice to have close friends to get an inside perspective from them on what’s going on there.”
While The Richards Group gives generously to many organizations in Windham County, Mark has a special fondness for educational institutions in the region, including Marlboro, Landmark, World Learning, The Putney School, Vermont Technical College, and Community College of Vermont, and others.
“I look at organizations that employ people, draw people into the area, help with the economy, and so on,” said Mark. “Whether it’s Marlboro College or one of the other educational organizations, they bring a lot of energy into the community, from all over the country. We really need to support them in any way we can.”
Mark is a strong believer in community service and has served on numerous boards, including People’s United Bank, Brattleboro Savings and Loan Association, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, Retreat Healthcare, and the Brattleboro Outing Club. As a member of the executive board of trustees for the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, where he has served for more than 30 years, he says they often talk about the many benefits of Marlboro Graduate and Professional Studies programs.
“It’s one of those institutions that brings people into the community to further their education, and a certain amount of them are going to stay here. At BDCC we are always talking about how do you support local industry, how do you bring new companies in, how to create jobs, and what better stepping stone than a graduate school in the community.”
“Marlboro College is one of the icon institutions in the community,” he adds. “It has always been in the forefront of sustained, successful, enduring benefit to the community, and it’s very easy to give to.”