Written by Meg Watkins, Corporate Development Manager, City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley

At Levi’s Stadium, silence is not the norm, and in fact through most of the evening of October 28th at City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley’s annual Starry Starry Night gala, the atmosphere was infectiously lively: music played, friends laughed, and City Year AmeriCorps members performed their famous cheers. Yet the most memorable moments of the night came with silences. The crowd was rapt as Maya, a shy 2nd grader, and AmeriCorps member(ACM) Nat Palomino shared their progress together. No one spoke as Brownlie, a sheepishly smiling 8th grader, talked about his troubles with math and how ACM JJ Conlon had helped him. And you could hear a pin drop when ACM Mya Canty shared her experiences growing up in Ferguson, Missouri, and her dedication to helping make education better for every child -- including Claudia, a ninth grader at Overfelt High School and one of Mya’s students.

Every year, City Year’s Starry Starry Night Gala brings together the stakeholders who are working to make a quality education a reality for all of Silicon Valley’s children, including nearly 700 leaders in business and government, and of course this year’s honoree Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP. Under his leadership, SAP has committed millions of dollars and countless hours to improving the state of education in America, and Bill spoke movingly of his own hardships and tireless motivation to create opportunity. We also heard from Enrique Salem of Bain Capital, who has himself been a dedicated champion of City Year for many years, and Al Guido, the COO of the San Francisco 49ers, whose leadership made the event possible (and whose generosity made it fantastic). And of course, the whole thing took place at a venue that itself celebrates the values, like hard work and perseverance, that our ACMs demonstrate every day: on the field of Levi’s Stadium.

This year’s Gala raised almost $1.6 million. Those contributions will make a real difference in the lives of the 7,000 students City Year serves in Silicon Valley, and the enormity of the sum is a testament to the spirit of collaboration and generosity that prevails in this community. At City Year, we often talk about “can-do attitudes” as a prerequisite to effective work; at our Gala, the community proved just how much that can-do can do.


For more photos, please visit our flickr page.

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