Some of the thousands of people who take part each year in courses run by the Foundation of Light attended an award ceremony at the stadium.
A new £9million centre to support enterprise and innovation in Sunderland could produce up to 650 jobs.
Rock legend Brian Johnson, from Gateshead, has been given an honorary degree by Northumbria University.
Over 40,000 public-sector workers in the North East are striking in one of the biggest walk-outs the country has seen in years.
A march in Newcastle is now underway.
Public sector workers are striking today over a row on pay, conditions, pensions and spending cuts.
Here are some of the reactions from Twitter users on the industrial action.
I'm with the strikers. No pay rise for years while ministers give themselves 11% + expenses? Unacceptable #strikeaction
As a parent I would be happy if my children couldn't go to school, they are teaching kids to stand up for what's important #strikeaction
David Cameron said the "time had come" to tighten strike laws and vowed to include this measure in the Conservative manifesto ahead of next year's General Election.
The Prime Minister attacked low turnouts in some ballots, pointing out that only 27% voted on whether to strike in a 2012 walkout.
During his weekly questions in the Commons, he said: "I don't think these strikes are right...I think people should turn up for work.
"I think the time has come for looking at setting thresholds in strike ballots... The (NUT) strike ballot took place in 2012, based on a 27% turnout.
"How can it possibly be right for our children's education to be disrupted by trade unions acting in that way? It is time to legislate and it will be in the Conservative manifesto."
Diane Peacock, Unison Sunderland Branch Secretary, explains why picketing strikers in Sunderland dressed in Victorian outfits.
Picketers at Sunderland Civic Centre are dressed in Victorian costume. They say their members are having to take on several jobs and still need help from food banks. The costume represents a return to the era of the work house.
A washing line with photos of public sector workers pegged to it was strung across the civic centre court yard to represent workers being 'hung out to dry' by the Government.
Over 40,000 public-sector workers in the North East will go on strike tomorrow (Thursday 10th July) in one of the biggest walk-outs the country has seen in years.
More than 400 schools across the region will be affected, along with leisure centres and libraries. Many bin collections will be cancelled. Dan Ashby has the story.
You can find out which schools are affected here.