Never Too School for Cool: How We’re Helping Kids Prep for the School Year

by Laura Clemmensen

Fizzy Rockets. Roller Coaster Math. Whimsical Wind Vanes.

The folks at non-profit RAFT – or ‘Resource Area for Teaching’ – have a lot in common with NVIDIANs. They love games, and they love learning.

At NVIDIA's headquarters, employees worked with RAFT to assemble kits teachers will use to inspire, amaze, and excite.
At NVIDIA’s headquarters, employees worked with RAFT to assemble kits teachers will use to inspire, amaze, and excite.

And that’s why NVIDIA’s Tony Tamasi – a senior VP who looks after our relationships with gaming companies – found himself last week stuffing thousands of marbles into hundreds of tiny plastic bags at our Silicon Valley head office as part of NVIDIA Foundation’s annual “Pack to School” effort.

“Don’t lose your marbles,” RAFT staffer LaVonne Simmons teased Tamasi.

Tamasi was one of 400 employees who volunteered to help assemble more than 3,300 kits such as “Critter Capsules,” – which send marble-stuffed capsules skittering around a paper plate. These kits will be used by teachers to help excite, inspire, and amaze nearly 30,000 Bay Area students in the upcoming school year.

It’s part of an effort that – like the annual back to school ritual itself – is a global one for NVIDIA. Here are some of the other things we do to help prepare for the new school year:

China: Our Beijing office helped 150-plus grade school teachers in rural central China as a sponsor of the Cuiyongyuan Foundation’s teacher training program. The program arms teachers with modern educational tools to help more than 10,000 children in 100 poverty-stricken schools.

Taiwan: Our Taipei office donated close to $40,000 to the Child Welfare League Foundation to help support more than 700 students at seven elementary schools in remote parts of the island nation. They also spent time with students in a variety of activities, including a special outing.

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NVIDIAns in Munich spent a day working at a kindergarten for kids from socially disadvantaged backgrounds

Germany: NVIDIANs in Munich spent a day working to improve a nearby kindergarten for kids from socially disadvantaged backgrounds, building a wooden playhouse, repairing fences and painting. Green t-shirt-clad kindergarteners worked side by side with the volunteers where possible, enthusiastically shouting “Unbesiegbar!” (“Invincible!”).

India: Pune employees partnered with AksharBharati, which donates books to organizations in need, to set up a library of nearly 800 books at a school serving children from nearby slums. They also worked with the students, introducing them to the books and talking to them about the importance of literacy. The office plans to set up a library at a new school each quarter.

Colorado: Looking to inspire future scientists, Fort Collins employees held a fundraiser to support a district-wide science fair for 4th and 5th graders, and volunteered to judge the entries.

Texas: Nearly 40 NVIDIANs volunteered to freshen up the campus of Brooke Elementary School in East Austin, putting in more than 250 hours landscaping and painting the school to prepare it for the coming school year.

Elsewhere in the U.S.: In its eighth year, our U.S. Field Office Backpack Drive collected enough donations to send more than 1,850 students back to school in the fall with a new backpack. More than 800 employees from 11 offices joined the effort.