Peery family revealed as Paly gym donor | March 22, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 22, 2013

Peery family revealed as Paly gym donor

It's not about athletics so much as youth, families playing together, Dave Peery says

by Chris Kenrick

The family offering to build a new athletic center for Palo Alto High School says it wants to give back in ways that enable youth and families to spend more time playing together.

"We aim to support initiatives which nurture the whole child and provide some balance in the fast-paced, work-obsessed environment we live in," said Dave Peery, a 1997 Paly graduate.

Peery is the son of Paly graduate Richard Peery who, along with his business partner John Arrillaga, made a fortune after property they acquired in the 1960s in Santa Clara County became valuable Silicon Valley commercial real estate.

The Peery family's offer to build an athletic center — with the exact dollar figure still unspecified — is considered potentially the largest single gift to the school district in its history. It originally was to be modeled after the $18 million indoor athletic center that opened in 2010 at Menlo School in Atherton.

The family's other local philanthropy includes projects in East Palo Alto's Ravenswood City School District, as well as plans to build a new gym for East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy, a 9-12 charter school.

The family also supports anti-poverty efforts around the world and has funded a Social Entrepreneurship Program at Brigham Young University.

"The core mission of the Peery Foundation is to support youth and families in poverty," Dave Peery said. "Recognizing that Palo Alto is not exactly an impoverished community, my dad is at a point in his life where he's motivated to give back to his hometown in a meaningful way."

Richard Peery established the family's foundation in 1978, with a mission to "strengthen youth and families to build lives of dignity and self-reliance."

The younger Peery said his father is uncomfortable with publicity, preferring private, people-oriented philanthropy often discussed over hamburgers at Kirk's in Town & Country Village.

"This project and others in the pipeline will combine his love of people with his background in development," Dave Peery said.

He said that his brother, Jason Peery, has done most of the direct work with Paly.

Jason Peery is a founder of the commercial real-estate firm Peery Partners as well as a principal at Peery-Arrillaga. Dave Peery manages the day-to-day operations and overall strategy of the Peery Foundation.

The Palo Alto High School project took shape after Jason Peery approached Paly Principal Phil Winston.

"We basically said, 'What are your goals and how can we expand this into something more ambitious, something that will outlive all of us?'" Dave Peery said.

"If we're going to do it, we want to do it right and for the long term. Paly and the Palo Alto Unified School District have been great to work with."

The Board of Education Tuesday approved conceptual plans for two sunken gyms on either side of Paly's aquatic center, to be connected by a covered walkway architecturally echoing that which connects Paly's Tower Building with Haymarket Theatre.

The gym project would include, among other features, a new wrestling/multi-purpose room, pool locker rooms and a new dance and yoga room.

"This will change not just the physical landscape but the feeling on the campus at Paly forever," Winston said. "It is something we need and could not be more thrilled about."

Dave Peery said the lease-leaseback arrangement — a legal alternative to competitive bidding under the California Education Code — would facilitate a high-quality and speedy completion of the project.

Plans call for groundbreaking in June 2014 and occupancy by August 2015, with athletics and physical-education classes operating out of portable classrooms during construction.

"We felt that since we are contributing the majority of the funds to this project that it made the most sense to take this approach and make sure it gets done right," Peery said of the lease-leaseback method.

But, he said, "We don't have any pricing (yet), and the size of the contribution and how it will all come together is still under discussion."

Peery family members were among those who recently partnered with Pinewood School in Los Altos Hills to build a gymnasium on Fabian Way in Palo Alto for use by Pinewood, from which two of Richard Peery's four children graduated.

Neither Richard Peery nor his two children who went to Paly played varsity athletics, although his grandson plays Paly basketball, a granddaughter plays lacrosse and his sister was a Paly cheerleader.

"It's not really about sports or athletics per se," Dave Peery said.

"This is much more about providing balance in the lives of our busy youth. Additionally, these facilities will be available to the broader community."

The Peery family's history in Palo Alto dates to 1924 when Dave Peery's grandfather, Taylor Peery, arrived at Stanford University, running an orange-juice company to support his studies.

He later built a career in banking and real estate, scouting for land on foot and by motorcycle, according to the website of the Peery Foundation.

"We believe that hard work with real people, away from a desk, can make extraordinary things happen in philanthropy," the website states.

Among the local projects the Peery Foundation funds is Palo Alto's Downtown Streets Team, which puts homeless people to work and is extending its method to San Jose, Sunnyvale and San Rafael.

The foundation also is supporting the Ravenswood Education Foundation, the planned Magical Bridge Playground at Mitchell Park that accommodates children with disabilities, and Ada's Café at the new Mitchell Park Library and Community Center, which will employ people with disabilities to prepare and serve food.

This article was first posted on Palo Alto Online on Monday, March 18. For all the latest breaking news, visit or subscribe to the Weekly's daily email, Express, at


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Posted by pamom
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 22, 2013 at 8:22 am

This was posted in another thread on this subject under the name "anonymous senior" and I think this comment and the comments posted after it are very important:

I am not using my name because not everyone knows about me. I am a gay Paly senior. I will be going to a pretty good college I hope. I love my school and my friends.Growing up in Palo Alto has given me a lot. I have known I was gay probably since I was around 11. I wouldn’t say I was, exactly, bullied but it definitely hasn’t always been easy.

I am writing about the gym.The Peery’s are generous to give to Paly. Some people are listing their other charities here.They also gave a lot of money to stop gay marriage in California, for Prop. 8, something I have strong feelings about as a gay student. Mr. Richard Peery gave $20,000 which is a lot and his sons also, gave thousands. I think that sends a really bad message about who is a role model. It makes it seem like Paly is agreeing that he is right which is bad..Or that Paly is willing to overlook his prejudice to get the money for the gym, which is even worse.

Everyone is going to be mad at me for writing this which is another good reason I am not giving my name.I have thought about this a lot over the last few days and I just feel that I have to speak up. I think that it is wrong that Mr. Peery is against equal rights, for people like me. I feel like this gym isn’t for me.

It says in this article that the Peery’s are giving the gym to “enable youth and families to spend more time playing together.” But I know that doesn’t mean me and it doesn’t mean all families, because families with same sex partners aren’t even a “family” to them. It makes me even more angry, about not being able to just be who I am. Everyone is so happy about this, but from my perspective, it isn’t great. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

It would be nice to have a new gym at Paly. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] A comment here says that “they are a very upstanding, wonderful family who are truly dedicated to helping those around them.” Speaking as a gay young person that is hard to take.I don’t know if the adults are even going to consider the student perspective, but if you are, I wish you would consider me, and not just the athletes.

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Posted by pamom
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 22, 2013 at 8:34 am

I agree with the gay Paly senior that it is wrong the way this story describes the Peery's as pro-family and pro-kid but they were big donors (Dick Peery gave $20,000) to Prop 8, which revoked the marriages of gay couples who were already married and made it illegal to for gays and lesbians to marry in the state of California. Here's the information:

Dick Peery gave $20,000 against gay marriage: Web Link
Dave Peery gave $500: Web Link
Jason Peery gave $1000: Web Link

$20,000 is one of the largest donations in the state. Only around 130 people gave that much. Dick Peery isn't just a prop 8 voter, which would be bad enough. He is one of the top donors to this proposition that makes bigotry the law of the land in California. So when this story says that Dick Peery's foundation wants to "strengthen youth and families to build lives of dignity and self-reliance" I agree with the brave Paly student that this is offensive to LGBT people and families.

I don't like that the Weekly locked that thread because the student is never going to post again if he or she has to register. The student said that he/she is not out to everyone. Locking the thread is cruel. There may also be other gay teens out there who would like to express similar thoughts but now that the thread is locked, the discussion will shut them out. It doesn't respect the gay teen experience to lock the thread.

Palo Alto is supposed to be a liberal community that cares about gay rights and rights for all people. Yet reading the posts on the other thread it seems that everyone is very willing to overlook this situation so long as we get a new gym. That's sad. The student evidently compared the situation to anti-Semitism and asked whether we would be willing to take a gym from someone who had given $20,000 to an anti-Semitic organization but that was removed. Why was that removed? I think it's a very good question. I seem to recall the editor of this paper revoking an endorsement of a judicial candidate for giving $500 to Prop 8 and now someone has given $20,000 and we just want to sweep that under the rug? And sweep the student voice under the rug with it? Clearly we have a double standard on our values. I am so disappointed in Palo Alto. Rights aren't for sale.

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Posted by Eileen 1
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2013 at 11:08 am

Eileen 1 is a registered user.

@Editor of Palo Alto Online

It would be very helpful if you could write a brief explanation when you lock a thread down as to why you made this decision. I can imagine many reasons, both good and bad, why you might have taken this step, but in the absence of an explanation to your reading public it is simply mysterious and looks like censorship. The anonymous senior raised an interesting and, possibly, troubling point. I think the community deserves the opportunity to comment on it. Closing it to all but registered users often results in all comment ceasing. Since this is such a sensitive topic I can easily see how those who are already nervous about commenting would not want to register in order to do so. Couldn't you leave the thread open and just monitor it for a period of time? Alternatively, could you please explain why you shut down this thread to all but registered users? Thank you.

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Posted by PalyDad
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 22, 2013 at 12:30 pm

PalyDad is a registered user.

The weekly revoked its endorsement for a judgeship last summer of someone who had given just $500 to Prop 8, with the publisher saying that "The Weekly is a strong supporter of gay rights and of gay marriage, and we cannot lend our endorsement to a candidate for judge who has actively attempted to deny this right," The publisher went on to say that the candidate did more than just vote against gays. It was his financial support that made the difference. "By providing active financial and public support of a highly divisive and emotional ballot measure, Pogue showed a passion on the issue that is inconsistent" with the Weekly endorsement.

Hmmm. Maybe pamom has a point. What's the message? You can't be a judge if you're a bigot but we'll take the dough?

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Posted by Jordan mom of 3
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Mar 22, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Jordan mom of 3 is a registered user.

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Like this comment
Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2013 at 6:41 pm

village fool is a registered user.

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online because it references a deleted post.]

Like this comment
Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2013 at 11:02 pm

village fool is a registered user.

@editor - I am joining Eileen 1, asking why threads are being locked? At this point it is pretty clear that once locked, any thread dealing with schools/kids becomes a "dead thread" - not because of lack of interest, but some fear of logging in. I still find this fascinating - your readers seem to trust you when it is about the facts you deliver - trust is gone once logging in is required. This occurrence is most likely not disconnected from everything else discussed these days - including fear of retaliation, atmosphere etc.

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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Mar 24, 2013 at 12:18 am

village fool is a registered user.

@Editor - And - joining pamom note about the locked thread - gay teen wise, or any teen. There is no way for them to express their voice. Given the fact that frequent posting (and caring - I'm sure) adults stop posing once thread is locked, surely teens can not be expected to overcome whatever blocks the the adults commenters from logging in.
Given the discussion about social/emotional well being - I join pamom, thinking that this forum can be an excellent outlet for any teen's concern. Adults want to know, I hope.

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Posted by isez
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 24, 2013 at 1:06 am

isez is a registered user.

This is NOT a locked thread. Anyone can sign in and still use aliases.

It's showing lack of gratitude to the Peerys that the Prop 8 issue was mentioned. If the gift were from Bernie Madoff (with stolen money) then there should be an issue about receipt of the gift. The Peery's political and religious beliefs should be of no concern to the acceptance of the gift. As the gay student asks for lack of prejudice, the public should not show prejudice against the Peerys for their beliefs.

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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Mar 24, 2013 at 11:44 am

village fool is a registered user.

@ isez, a member of the Palo Alto High School community - you raise an interesting question that was addressed here in variant ways. Does a legal action make it right? Trying to show my point, going to the edge - Would should a Boston school do during the Civil war, should a Southern wealthy, famous Citizen, supporting slavery in southern state, legal, then, would have donated $ to that Boston school for whatever the school choose to do?
And generally speaking -
Where have all the teachers gone? Long time passing...
Surly, they are very busy - still, I would hope the Paly gay student could read some support, here. Advice? Goes back to limiting access here only to those logged in. Lets see a teacher supporting the gay student? just supporting, no comments about donation. Obviously, there is no way to know who is writing, but threads dealing with teachers salary raise seemed to be packed with real teachers. Anonymously. Never signing in, such as requested now.

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Posted by
a resident of University South
on Mar 24, 2013 at 9:46 pm

"'We aim to support initiatives which nurture the whole child and provide some balance in the fast-paced, work-obsessed environment we live in,' said Dave Peery, a 1997 Paly graduate."
I'm at a loss to understand how this commendable goal could co-exist with a desire to see gay people denied the right to marry, to form families that have the same legitimacy as straight people's. Does he mean "the whole child, except for the gay part"?
It seems to me, as the parent of a gay child, that an easier (and cheaper) way to "provide some balance" for the families in our district that are headed by lesbians and gay men would be to stop discriminating against them.
I hope Phil Winston gives this issue due consideration. And I think the comparison to accepting money from an openly anti-Semitic donor is apt.

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Posted by PalyDad
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 24, 2013 at 10:04 pm

PalyDad is a registered user.

I agree with PaloAltogirl. In response to isez, I do not think it shows "a lack of gratitude to the Peerys that the Prop 8 issue was mentioned." I think it shows a profound lack of sensitivity to the brave student who posted to say that.

The Weekly chose to make the donor's ultra-conservative view of "family" relevant by publishing a PR fluff piece lauding his "family" values. The Weekly reported that "It's not about athletics so much as youth, *families* playing together, Dave Peery says," and that the family "wants to give back in ways that enable youth and families to spend more time playing together." The Weekly quoted the family saying that "We aim to support initiatives which nurture the whole child." The family's foundation, which is funding the gym, also funds Brigham Young, and the family claims it has the mission to "strengthen youth and *families* to build lives of dignity and self-reliance."

Dignity? Dignity? What about the dignity of gay youth and families? What about the dignity of the gay Paly senior who just asked that everyone stop praising the donor for being so committed to families.

I still think the right thing is to take some of the money and put it into a tolerance center to promote LGBT student rights. There is 5.5 million of public money that is part of the gym project. Let's take some part of that for gay students. Paloaltogirl do you agree?

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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2014 at 6:39 pm

village fool is a registered user.

Anyone knows what is the current gym status? What is the planned budget? Building timeline?

As far as I recall several commenter compared quite recently the planned cost to the amount spent renovating the Gunn gym.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.