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NBA star donates computer lab to Alder Elementary

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OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul and his family foundation teamed up with State Farm and Nike to create Exist to Assist, a program that will assist schools in cities such as Portland that have ties to Nike.Chris Paul, basketball superstar and point guard for the Los Angeles Clippers, set Alder Elementary School abuzz on Wednesday morning, and not just because he’s an eight-time National Basketball Association all star and two-time Olympic god medal winner, nope. He also presented the school with a new computer lab.

Paul’s donation to the school at 17200 S.E. Alder St. included 32 Dell computers with accessories, four Mac computers, a Clear Touch screen monitor, software, printer/scanners, teacher training, even tables and chairs.

“I think it’s cool to be smart,” Paul told about 250 of Alder’s students gathered in the gym under banners for colleges ranging from Harvard University and Southern Oregon University to Elon University in Paul’s home state of North Carolina.

The students cheered wildly when the 6-foot-tall Paul strode into the gym. Paul gave the students a rousing pep talk about doing well in school and took a few questions from the excited crowd. He said the computer lab and his visit were intended to show students how much athletes like himself believe in them.

“You guys have a group of teachers here that really care about you guys,” he said.

Pointing out fifth-grade teacher Karen Repko, Paul said, “We have something in common.”

After joking about Repko’s possible hoop skills and jump shot, he prodded the students into correctly guessing that their common trait was education.

Paul has led a family foundation for about 10 years. Last October, he decided to join forces with State Farm Insurance and Nike’s Jordan Brand WINGS shoes to start an initiative called “Exist to Assist.” It is designed to help out four communities around the country, including the Portland area, which was selected because of Paul’s ties with Nike, which is headquartered in the Beaverton area.

Exist to Assist spokespeople could not provide a dollar value of Paul’s donation.

Paul is ranked by Forbes Magazine at the 37th-highest paid athlete in the world, earning $26.1 million in 2015 from his Clippers salary and endorsements. Chris Paul’s mother, Robin Paul, said the family foundation gives away about $500,000 per year.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul laughs at a students joke Wednesday morning at Alder Elementary School in Rockwood, where Pauls family foundation celebrated the donation of three dozen computers to the school. Alder Principal Rob Stewart, who estimated the donation in the area of $60,000, called the Exist to Assist computer lab an amazing donation.

“This upgrades our technology to keep pace with what’s happening in the world,” he said, noting that a lot of Alder students don’t have access to technology at home.

Alder, a Reynolds School District school, is the second-highest poverty school in the state.

Of the 520 students, 66 percent are English language learners.

In 2010, Alder was designated the first “Dreamer School” in the country by the I Have a Dream Foundation.

The nonprofit organization pulls in resources to boost Alder students’ academic success with the goal of having 100 percent of them graduate from high school and 80 percent complete college or a post-high school certificate program.

Paul’s foundation focuses on durable sorts of gifts that make an impact over years. He said a couple of years ago he turned his focus to technology in low-income and urban schools.

“What got me interested is my wife and I went to our son’s school and seeing all those Macs and other technology, it really just clicked for me,” he told the Outlook. “Just because kids grow up on the other side of town, they shouldn’t be left out of that.”