Nvidia Case Study

The Challenge: Transforming walls of a school

With California schools facing a budget crisis, providing extracurricular opportunities and updating facilities is a huge challenge. Budget pains echo for help throughout school districts in the Bay Area. The Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto may have to eliminate after-school programs that focus on art and academic enrichment. Superintendent Maria de la Vega worries about "struggling to improve student achievement with little resources." The East Side Union High School District in San Jose is threatening to cut all athletic programs unless there is relief from Sacramento. According to Overfelt High School Principal Vito Chiala, "we can't continue to run schools on the budget we had this year." With more cuts looming, updating facilities with basic needs like painting walls become difficult and subject to a broken-window effect.

The call for help from local schools is a clear challenge and the Mural Music & Arts Project is responding by collaborating with leading Silicon Valley companies to turn vandilized and dilapetated walls into community monuments. Part of the challenge of helping out schools is figuring out how to effectively get Silicon Valley professionals involved. Everyone is busy and long time commitments are nearly impossible.

The Solution: One day of mass collaboration

For the past two years, the Mural Music & Arts Project has partnered with Silicon Valley chip company Nvidia using an innovative strategy to help schools with their academic needs and visual improvements during these tough economic times. Rather than spending money on Christmas parties, Nvidia commissioned MMAP to lead the design and installation of murals with over 1,000 employees and their families as part of a large community project day each year. MMAP gathers feedback from key stakeholders to make a mural design that fits the school environment while conveying important themes like literacy and multi-cultural tolerance.

Painting a mural in one day can seem daunting to an individual who has never picked up a brush but working together as a team is something Silicon Valley professionals know best. With the revenue generated from the commission, MMAP hires professional in-house artists like Rachel McIntire, Caleb Duarte, and Bryanna Flemming along with local high school teens to prepare the wall and work as teams with volunteers from Nvidia. "We have standardized a paint-by-numbers mural making process that allows everyone to feel ownership of the mural," says MMAP Executive Director, Sonya Clark-Herrera.

The Result: Schoolwide Makeover

The benefit of Nvidia's mural investments extend beyond artwork. The murals protect school walls from vandalism for 5 to 10 years and save schools countless hours of repainting. Nvidia employees like software engineer Reto Koradi report loving the "chance to contribute" and Principal Chiala believes that having students, teachers, and people from Nvidia working side by side is important. "They are learning that our students are good people, and the students are learning that having a job is more than going to work," says Chiala. The collective power of Nvidia volunteers also inspire students. "This is like, Whoa! People are coming to help us from all over," said Rosa Hernandez, a 16-year-old junior who plans to attend West Point when she graduates. "I feel good about it." Teen mural artists from MMAP like 17-year-old Junior Alex Valencia, "love the opportunity" to make an impact at other high schools and "have fun teaching students and adults how to paint." MMAP looks forward to strengthening it's relationship with Nvidia and sees more growth using the community day model with other Silicon Valley companies.

Enjoy photos from the day here.

Vito Chiala, the principal of Overfelt High School, said, "The commitment by NVIDIA employees to the improvement of our school and community is nothing short of inspirational," "More important than the actual improvements is the impact on the students -- they will learn from professionals the importance of serving the community, and that it is possible to be committed to your career and to make the world a better place."

Commenting on the impact of the project and the potential for global impact, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, commented, "Imagine what the combined holiday party budget of every company in the world can do for humanity."

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2007 Nvidia collaborates with MMAP to transform East Palo Alto Charter School

Project Inspire: 500 NVIDIANs and Their Families Revitalize a Silicon Valley School

On December 15, 500 members of the NVIDIA community provided much needed updates to the East Palo Alto Charter School. Community partner Rebuilding Together Peninsula organized the volunteers (which included parents and teachers at the school), and together the team made an incredible impact, including:

  • Outside of the school completely repainted (225 gallons of paint used)
  • Seventy five dull Plexiglas windows replaced
  • Four beautiful and educational murals painted throughout school grounds
  • Crafted an outdoor classroom and garden in which students will learn about how to grow and prepare nutritious meals
  • A new volleyball court
  • Brand new books for each child and school supplies for each classroom

Rebuilding Together estimates over 3,000 hours were volunteered in one day, and that the school would have spent $600,000 on contract labor if it had to pay for it.

Photos from the project can be found on NBC11's web site.

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