Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Awards Millions Toward Math Education for Black Students

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is investing millions into improving math education for Black K-12 students

This week, the Gates Foundation announced phase two of its U.S. Education Grand Challenge, Balance the Equation. As part of the rollout, 11 grantees are set to create solutions toward making Algebra 1 more accessible for students of color and those from impoverished communities, as noted by the Grand Challenge K-12 Director Bob Hughes.

“Black and Latino students, English learners and students experiencing poverty are particularly affected — not because they lack the ability to succeed, but because society tells them they are not “math people,” Hughes said in his op-ed on the program.

He added how these stigmas “reinforces this message with inequitable access to qualified math teachers, advanced coursework, high-quality curriculum, tutoring and other supports necessary to serve the potential of every student.”

These disparities can result in long-term effects where people of color end up in lower-paying careers than their white counterparts. Last October, the Foundation launched the initiative to find the innovators who would help improve the algebra learning experience for Black and brown students.

The first phase of grant recipients was announced on March 15. Grantees received $100,000 each to develop, test, and refine math solutions to make Algebra 1 more relevant and collaborative for Black, Latino, English Learners, and students living through poverty.

Now, the Foundation is unveiling phase two, where the 11 new grantees received close to $1 million each to pilot their math programs in schools. Among the 11 organizations chosen to receive the grants, nine are minority-led, with roughly 45% of them being first-time grantees to the foundation.

“With the launch of this group of Grand Challenge winners, I’m excited to see what our grantees will discover and contribute to the broader effort to engage all students more deeply in their enjoyment, mastery and completion of Algebra 1,” Hughes said.