Skip to main content

History of Valdes Math

Leading Students Since 1988

The Legacy of José A. Valdés

The José Valdés Math Institute celebrates the memory of its founder, José Antonio Valdés.  Mr. Valdés was born on July 19, 1928 in Cuba, where he became a Math Teacher and eventually immigrated to the United States.


Mr. Valdés believed that all students can learn mathematics and worked to prove this true. He started off as a janitor at Andrew Hill High School, tutoring students while he earned his California teaching credential.  As a teacher, Mr. Valdés began bilingual classes at Andrew Hill High School, thus advancing Spanish speaking students in mathematics while they were learning English.


He encouraged all students to aspire beyond basic math and into the more demanding and rigorous classes of Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus. Mr. Valdés was disheartened by the number of students, especially Hispanics and African Americans, who started high school in arithmetic classes, and vowed to make a difference.  With the receipt of a large donation from the Lucille Packard Foundation, in 1989 he ran his first summer program of intensive mathematics for under-represented East San Jose middle school students to ensure they would be Algebra-ready by high school.  Now expanded into other communities as well, the program has run every summer since 1989.


The José Valdés Math Institute continues Mr. Valdés' dream and his commitment to his belief that all students can learn Mathematics.  It was because of his dream that over 28,000 students in East San Jose and surrounding areas, particularly those from low socioeconomic households, have now been given the opportunity to succeed in mathematics, move ahead into higher classes and successfully enter and complete college.


Mr. Valdés was an inspiration to all. His motivation, desire, and belief in students is what makes his dream live on. Mr. Valdés passed away on December 12, 1991 and is survived by his wife Silvia, son José Jr., and daughters Sylvia Valdés-Fernandez, and Barbara M. Kinnon.


In his memory, a Valdés Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established. Donations may be sent to: The José Valdés Math Foundation, P.O. Box 26484, San Jose, CA 95159-6484.

The José Valdés Math Institute was selected as a Bright Spot in Hispanic Education during a press conference in Washington, D.C.​ last September and is included in the Bright Spots in Hispanic Education National Online Catalog; accessible at