The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced initial grants totalling $1.5 million in support of solutions to make Algebra I more accessible and relevant for students who are Black, Latino, English language learners, and/or are experiencing poverty.
Awarded through Balance the Equation: A Grand Challenge for Algebra 1, the foundation’s first ever U.S. education Grand Challenge, the Phase 1 grants will support projects designed to transform Algebra I from a “gatekeeper” into a “gateway” to success by improving relevance of algebra content, elevating understanding of mathematical language, strengthening teacher practices, and developing new and better feedback mechanisms. According to the foundation, Algebra I is one of the most important indicators of students’ future success; among students who do not complete the course, only one in five graduates from high school.
Selected from more than four hundred proposals, fifteen organizations — eleven of them minority-led — were each awarded Phase 1 planning and prototyping grants of $100,000 to develop, test, and refine their solutions. Recipients include Amplify Education, whose solution uses a visual approach to help students gain a deeper conceptual understanding of data and statistics; the Black Teacher Collaborative, which will develop a teacher training program to help teachers produce more affirming Algebra I classes for Black students; the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, whose model incorporates social justice into teacher supports to help show students the power of mathematics for understanding and changing how the world works; Plan of Action for Challenging Times, which will use a student-driven, storytelling-focused approach to improve conceptual understanding of Algebra I for Black and Latino students; and the Young People’s Project, which will develop a certification program and online learning platform that enables high school students to use interactive games to teach algebra to their younger peers.
Later this year the foundation will select between eight and ten of the grantees to receive Phase 2 funding, with one cohort of grantees expected to launch pilot studies this fall and a second launching their pilots in the fall of 2022.
For a complete list of Balance the Equation grant recipients, see the Gates Foundation website.