by Tonie Hansen

Even though NVIDIA employees are active in charitable activities throughout the year, they always seem to kick it up a notch during the holiday season.

Project Inspire - Painting at OverfeltOur US field offices participate in corporate food drives for low income families, competing against much larger companies and usually bringing home the top trophy. Some of our APAC offices celebrate the Chinese New Year by holding fundraising events to raise money for charitable activities throughout the next year.

Here in Santa Clara we’re celebrating our third year of an event we call Project Inspire on Saturday, December 5. Each year we partner with a low income school in Silicon Valley and provide a day of visual and academic transformation. Employees, their families and friends swarm to the school to volunteer, and we also invite the surrounding neighborhood to take part in our “extreme makeover” project.

For 2009 we’ve selected McKinley Elementary School and the neighboring community center. The two sites serve as a hub for the entire neighborhood, with thousands of people using the sports fields, playgrounds, park and other center facilities each week. The neighborhood is very committed to reducing crime and gang violence and the school has seen a 53 point increase in their academic scores over the past year. Check out the list of improvements we’ll make on December 5.

Project Inspire has been an incredible public/private collaboration between NVIDIA, our planning partner City Year, the City of San Jose’s redevelopment agency, Franklin McKinley school district and San Jose State’s CommUniverCity. One of the reasons we selected McKinley is because of this great support structure already in place.

Project Inspire - Painting Project Inspire - Building a Green House 

Employees working hard at last year’s Project Inspire.One of our key projects is to replace the school’s 74 computers with brand new systems. We asked employees to partner with NVIDIA Foundation to share the costs, and in just two days our employees had donated enough money to pay for all of the needed systems! The new computers are the Acer Aspire Revo, teeny tiny desktop computers that feature NVIDIA technology and will provide a vast improvement in the performance of the educational applications the teachers currently use.

How can you help?

From November 30 – December 4, we’re encouraging the Twitter community to help spread the word about Project Inspire by re-tweeting the message below. For each person who re-tweets it, we’ll donate $1 to McKinley Elementary School, up to $10,000. Be sure to follow @NVIDIA and use the #nvinspire hashtag so that we capture your contribution:

@NVIDIA giving McKinley Elementary $1 per RT of this msg as part of Project Inspire #nvinspire. Details: http://bit.ly/nvdainspire

The Project Inspire concept actually started in 2001 when we decided as a company to stop wasting money on holiday parties. Since that time this “party with a purpose” has taken off at many of our offices and become an important part of our employee volunteerism program. I’m proud that our employees are willing to forego the traditional holiday celebrations and do something much more meaningful to help their communities.