By Mike Schuh

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — You may be surprised to learn that Under Armour’s foundation makes 80 percent of its donations in the Baltimore area.

One of their most recent donations has led to the complete makeover of a previously tired elementary school near downtown.

James McHenry Elementary School in West Baltimore got a large gift from Under Armour to help transform the school.

If any school could use some help, it was James McHenry Elementary School.

Only 1 percent of students do well in English testing, and the State has intervened, as it’s one of the worst performing schools in Maryland.

Its new principal is working on a turnaround.

“It’s changing lives because it’s giving them hope, you know. It’s letting kids know that they are important,” said Travis Miller, principal at McHenry Elementary.

He asked for help, and in the past few weeks, he’s gotten it.

From new air conditioning, to a restocked and expanded food pantry.

The gym is all new top to bottom, and the entire school has been painted, rewired for tech, and cosmetically rehabbed by 1,000 Under Armour employees.

Rehabbed because Under Armour partnered with the Heart of America Foundation.

“What we do is work with great corporate partners and community partners like Under Armour, and re-imagine the space,” said Jill Heath, with the Heart of America Foundation. “So at the very beginning, three months ago, we walked the space with Under Armour and we saw opportunity here.”

How does making this school bright and pretty translate into opportunities for these kids?

“If you have a bright and great space to learn and a cool environment when it’s hot, and a warm environment when it’s cold, kids can pay attention,” said Stacey Ullrich, with the Under Armour foundation. “They’re more interested in what’s happening, and not only can they sense that people care about them but they’re inspired to give their best.”

Which is exactly why Miller asked for all the help in the first place.

“It makes kids and families realize there’s an investment in their future. It’s like planting a seed,” he said. “To someone else, they might just think it’s just a coat of paint, but to a lot of our students, they realize, ‘hey, people that care.'”

This school was the second in Baltimore to get the such help. Under Armour plans to announce a third school in the city to get such a makeover.

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