Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Award Math Equity Grants to East Baton Rouge and NYC

  • Louisiana’s East Baton Rouge Parish School System was the recipient of a $3.5 million math equity grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  The “Research and Development Partnerships for Math Equity” grant was created to help economically disadvantaged and minority students graduate from high school with a stronger understanding of math.  

    The district will be part of a 33-month pilot program to develop new customized intervention models, data-tracking, and teacher training for online student learning. The aim is to help the school district address learning gaps that have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

    As part of the grant, Louisiana State University’s Social Research and Evaluation Center and DreamBox Learning will work with the East Baton Rouge school system to co-construct a research plan to focus on students primarily in kindergarten through eighth grade. 

    The program will provide key funding and resources to follow students throughout their progression on their Dreambox Learning math lesson for the next 33 months, in addition to classroom math instruction to identify what will lead to better results among students.

    In addition to East Baton Rouge, the New York City school district was the only other school system in the nation to receive the grant. The two districts were chosen from a field of 17 applicants.

    The Gates Foundation developed the competitive grant program with input from the Council of Great City Schools.

    At a press conference announcing the grant, East Baton Rouge Schools Superintendent Sito Narcisse noted that one of the greatest struggles students face begins with their mindset before they walk into the classroom. “Just the idea of learning math can be a daunting and intimidating prospect for kids who may not have had effective foundational experiences, and many simply have developed an early negative perception and lack of confidence when it comes to greater comprehension as they matriculate through grade levels,” said Narcisse. “This initiative will help us identify those causes and provide sustainable instructional strategies and bolster enthusiasm in math education for the entire country.”

    “We are thrilled that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has developed a research grant to help us better understand math instructional practices that will help our students get better, learn, and grow. I can’t think of a better place where we can begin to learn and make investments in our young people than in East Baton Rouge,” said Council Executive Director Ray Hart.