Thousands of Paint Brushes and a Million-Dollar Check Converge on San Jose Middle School

by Liz Austin

Thousands of paint brushes. Hundreds of gallons of paint. Truckloads of lumber. And a check for a million dollars.

Big numbers surface once you start breaking down this past weekend’s Project Inspire, NVIDIA’s annual holiday celebration instead of a party.

Our goal this year was to make over Fischer Middle School, in economically challenged East San Jose. To help, we invited 1,500 friends, family and community members, and donated almost $500,000 worth of materials, equipment and labor.

It’s part of a $5.5 million effort we’ve made since 2007 to support the education of local kids.

A key catalyst in this year’s work was a $1 million donation from our CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang,  and his wife, Lori , to support the work of City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley, our partner in Project Inspire. The gift will enable City Year to expand its academic help and mentoring to nearly 3,500 more kids over the next three years.

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Our work inspired the support of others, as well, who are playing a key role in the makeover:

  • Kaiser Permanente, with support from the Alum Rock Union School District, is funding a new baseball field.
  • The Health Trust, a local nonprofit, is providing new outdoor exercise equipment.
  • And Devcon Construction donated most of the materials used to remake Fischer, as well as in-kind labor to help improve Fischer Middle School’s courtyard.

Details Matter

Those big contributions were paired with the contributions of NVIDIA volunteers like Kimberli Yam.

She and other members of NVIDIA’s finance team could be found painting a portrait of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on a wall at Fischer on Friday.

It was part of an effort to transform the campus to get kids excited about learning. By creating a more welcoming setting, Fischer will also be a friendly place for the community to use outside of school hours.

The project list was long, including building an outdoor classroom and community garden, upgrading a courtyard, and constructing a study zone and seating areas. Our volunteers also created scores of murals, added fresh landscaping and improved the school’s fitness facilities.

The bottom line: a series of contributions that add up to something inspiring.

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“Kids often feel people don’t care about them,” says Genevieve Breed, a GPU architect who’s been a part of every one of our Project Inspire events. “But when they come back to school and see what we did, the kids here will realize that a whole lot of people do care.”

You can’t put a number on that.

For more photos from the event, visit NVIDIA’s Flickr page