Engineering firm awards $30,000 to improve Benavidez ES library

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Jacobs, an engineering firm, presented Benavidez Elementary School with a check for $30,000 to use to buy books and furniture for the school’s library. Jacobs has been partnering with Benavidez for nearly 25 years in a number of ways, including tutoring students and supporting teachers.

“Thank you so much for your generous donation to help improve our students’ reading,” said Principal Zabeth Parra-Malek. “If they can read, they can do math, science, social studies, technology, anything. Look around—can you imagine what this library will look like with all those books?” 

Located in southwest Houston, the school is very multicultural, and the students at the dedication ceremony were from various parts of the world, including Africa, Myanmar, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Mexico. All grades levels were represented, and each student thanked Jacobs for their donation individually in a short speech. The check for $30,000 was presented by Jacobs Vice President of Operations Mark Brantley, along with Jacobs Houston Workshare Manager Luisiana Stevens and Jacobs retiree Jim Wilson.

“Reading has done a lot for me, so I encourage you to read,” Brantley said. “I bought books for my kids, and I am telling them to read, too. I am glad we were able to help you with this donation.”

Wilson founded the partnership with Benavidez in the fall of 1992 with a group of volunteers who worked with students with special needs. The partnership grew when Wilson provided funds to help purchase teaching materials and volunteers to help with special projects. Since then, Jacob has provided tutoring, classroom speakers, Junior Achievement, the Pen Pal program, mentoring, Santa visits, Bubbles for Benavidez, and a community garden.

One of the principal sources of the funds is the annual sale of Jacobs/Benavidez “stock,” which recognizes “stockholders” who donate $5 or more. The Jacobs Foundation then matches the money raised through the mock stock. Thus far, Jacobs has raised more than $387,000 for the school.