Philanthropic Ventures Foundation

October 2013  


a newsletter for our donors and colleagues  

Young Makers Inspire  

a New Science Program 

by: James Higa, Executive Director 


PVF was on hand to support the first build-your-own computer Popup Pi Day at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. 30 youth ages 12-15 gathered for a fun-filled day of learning how computers were invented and how they work.   

The morning started with an illuminating tour of the museum to learn about the history of Silicon Valley and how it is that computers came to be invented. They even heard stories first-hand from the legendary Alan Acorn, inventor of the classic Atari game "Pong."  He can still beat all comers in the play Pong exhibit.     


The tour was followed by hands-on time with the "Raspberry Pi," a credit card-sized single-board computer developed in the UK by the Raspberry Pi Foundation.  It was developed with the intention of promoting the teaching of basic computer science and sells for a mind bogglingly low $35.  The kids gathered in small groups to assemble the parts to build their own working computer.  


By the end of the day, these young makers had not only built their own computer, but were busy modifying their own version of the Pong game and launching their own Minecraft worlds. Of the 30 kids who came, 22 were girls!   


This was a different kind of hands-on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning. What a different learning experience it is to touch and get your hands on the guts of what makes a computer work rather than the hermetically sealed and inaccessible mass-produced consumer gadgets that fill our daily lives.


The Computer History Museum is a place that honors the makers who established Silicon Valley.  It was great to see young makers in action.  The Raspberry Pi computer provides a fun, interactive outlet that engages kids and allows them to step into the shoes of Silicon Valley makers for a day. The cries of "Yay! Stickers!" and "Wow, it's working" that filled the air are still ringing in my ears. 


The day was a huge success. As one mom said in an email, "I have no words to thank you. My son had a great time at the museum today, it really tickled something in him."  


To top off the day, the kids had a huge helping of, what else...some raspberry pie.


PVF is proud to be an active connector working side by side with our community collaborators like the Computer History Museum to dream up innovative ideas in learning - like the Popup Pi Day.


Interested in funding this project? Help us send more students to build-your-own computer workshops by donating HERE.   


About PVF 


PVF is a demonstration foundation practicing unique forms of grantmaking and innovative philanthropy. Our primary interest is in the creative and significant use of the philanthropic dollar.


About the Editors 
James Higa
James Higa, Executive Director
James Higa brings 28 years of executive experience from Silicon Valley to PVF, working alongside Steve Jobs to change the face of technology. He was at the birth of the personal computer revolution as a member of the original Macintosh team and was deeply involved in the creation of many breakthrough products and services at Apple over the last three decades. James has a long history of public service as a board member of Stanford's Haas Center and in grassroots relief efforts during the 2011 Tohoku and 1995 Kobe Earthquakes in Japan. 
Bill Somerville, President & CEO
Bill Somerville has been in non-profit and philanthropic work for 50 years. He was the director of a community foundation for 17 years, and in 1991 founded Philanthropic Ventures Foundation where he serves as President. Bill has consulted at over 400 community foundations in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., on creative grantmaking and foundation operations. Bill is the author of Grassroots Philanthropy: Field Notes of a Maverick Grantmaker. 

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Where's Bill? Building a Playground Designed by and for EPA Kids
PVF was on hand recently at Cesar Chavez Academy, a local elementary and middle school in East Palo Alto, where Kaboom! was creating a playground facility using 300 high tech employees to assemble and install the play equipment. I joined in to help assemble the play equipment. 

Kaboom! is a nationally recognized implementer of play equipment at schools throughout the country. They require that parents and local people do the installation work. In this case funding and workers came from Adobe and SAP, two technology companies. The parent workers were recruited by the three PVF-sponsored Parent Involvement Workers, who together cooked all the food for 300 people and participated in the two year planning process.

The school's Principal stated, "Finally shade over our benches, beautiful enhancement to our entry, a bulletin board now available at our Bay Road entrance, benches and picnic tables galore and arguably the most amazing playground in the area designed by and for our kids!"

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