Dual Donations Drive Innovation

Dual Donations Drive Innovation
Frank Sanchez, Tyler Hodges and Dana and Hope Fender signing the matching $5 million commitments to build the facility.

Dana and Hope Fender signed a commitment on the morning of Oct. 30 to match a $5 million gift from Frank Sanchez to build the Center for Innovation on the Bolles Upper School San Jose Campus. The 47,000-square-foot, three-story building marks the most expansive construction undertaking on the San Jose Campus property since the building now known as Bolles Hall was constructed as the San Jose Hotel in 1925.

The dual $5 million donations from the Fenders and Sanchez are the largest single gifts in The Bolles School’s history. The state-of-the-art structure will now be called the “Frank R. Sanchez & Hope and Dana E. Fender Center for Innovation” in honor of their generosity.

“We are grateful for the Fenders and Frank Sanchez’s historic gifts to the Institution. Their commitment exhibits extraordinary support to our students and faculty in their pursuit of always raising the bar of academic excellence, which is truly humbling. Dr. Dana Fender and Mr. Frank Sanchez are industry leaders and innovators within the areas of medical science and technology. We are proud to have these two wonderful families associated with this landmark facility,” Bolles Chief Advancement Officer Carol Nimitz said.

Construction on the $26 million building began June 2022 and is expected to be completed in spring 2024. It will house Bolles’ science, math and technology programs, as well as expansive areas for advanced courses in robotics, computer programming, information technology, engineering and design. It features cutting-edge classrooms and 12 specialty labs, as well as Bolles’ Anatomage table, the world’s first and only virtual dissection table used by medical schools and universities around the globe. Bolles has long-been one of the few high schools in the country to offer students this college-level science resource.

Frank Sanchez with Austin Fender, Morgan Fender, Hope and Dana Fender, Evan Fender, Tyler Hodges and Rusty Newton
Frank Sanchez with Austin Fender, Morgan Fender, Hope and Dana Fender, Evan Fender, Tyler Hodges and Rusty Newton

“The Center for Innovation is an exciting work of both art and engineering, but like all campus structures, it exists to support the learning that happens within its footprint,” said Bolles President and Head of School Tyler Hodges. “In this case, this means collaborative hands-on learning, academic exploration with inspirational faculty and the ability for students to experiment and gain practical experience as they work toward their highest potential to serve our community and the world.”

The state-of-the-art structure is being constructed on the San Jose Campus’ last prime development site adjacent to Bolles Hall on a bluff overlooking the St. Johns River. Faculty and school leaders strongly felt the building – designed by Miami-based Zyscovich architects and constructed by Jacksonville-based Stellar design-build company – should complement the school’s focus on real-world learning that allows students to create, invent and explore using a variety of tools, materials and technology.

“The ornate design was meant to be a living building bringing an abundance of windows and glass walls throughout,” said Bolles Associate Head of School Mike Drew. “Walls can move to make multiple classrooms into one big open room or open a classroom to the outdoors in many cases.  We wanted to capitalize on the proximity of the building to allow all students to be inspired by the beautiful outside views of the river. Every floor has its own terrace and gathering place that encourages discussion, collaboration and creativity.  As technology and science evolves the building will be able to evolve with it.”

Science Department Chair Nancy Hazzard called the space an “intellectual incubator” that will expose students to “an entirely new and exciting level of academics.”

The school still needs an additional $8 million in philanthropic gifts to meet the cost of the building.

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