2023 Grants Challenge

Closing the Math Gap to Promote Success in STEM Careers

Idea by BOSS, Inc.

If the U.S. is to continue to lead the world in pioneering the technologies, industries, and jobs of the future, it must increase number of BIPOC youth pursuing STEM. Math competency is essential for success in STEM, and 80% of Black, Latino and economically disadvantaged students (Target Students) don't meet math standards. Leveraging strategies that have produced 5 years of near across the board outperform by Target Students, we'll increase the number with the interest, confidence, background and foundational math skills to pursue STEM.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

K-12 STEAM Education

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Applying a proven model or solution to a new issue or sector (e.g., using a job recruiting software or strategy to match clients to supportive housing sites, applying demonstrated strategies from advocating for college affordability to advocating for housing affordability and homelessness, etc.)

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Innovations resulting from STEM fields have positively touched nearly every aspect of human life and the need for a vast, talented workforce in STEAM-related fields has never been greater. Target Students are underrepresented in STEM, and also work predominantly in lower-paying STEM jobs. White and Asian or Asian American STEAM workers account for an overrepresentation in the field and receive the highest salaries. Notwithstanding, research confirms the demand cannot be met solely with White/Asians. The likelihood of scientific success would increase as a result of a diversity of approach, ideas and thoughts, promoting economic growth and competitiveness. One way to meet the demand is to increase the number of BIPOC students with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives who pursue STEAM. We propose meeting the demand by increasing the number of Target Students (and BIPOC youth generally) capable of meeting the academic rigors of STEAM by closing the "math gap."

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

The "project" involves us intentionally focusing resources on addressing the math challenge facing Target Students, which is aligned with and complimentary to ongoing STEM programming and expansion of our STEM Career Pathway and our Dr. Frederick S. Humphries STEM Portal. We'll provide a safe, hybrid delivery method for a contextually and culturally relevant exploration and discovery of mathematical and statistical concepts. Explorations designed to simultaneously transcend and encompass traditional curriculum. Many Target Students have expectations of excellence in sport due to abundance of examples and support from family and community. We will bring this same confidence to their ability in mathematics by exposing Target Students to the African origins of mathematics, and the myriad ways that mathematics is found in Black/pan-African culture. In periodic sessions, participants will learn through instructor facilitation, group work, and inquiry-based learning modalities. Target Students will be expected to reflect on the ways the content intersects with their identities and lived experiences and be invited to create modules that link rich mathematical content to matters of importance in their cultural context. To expand our reach beyond Target Students we currently serve, project will involve developing, deploying and promoting a free, intuitive, user-friendly and culturally relevant math resource tool all LA County Target Students will be able to access online.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Our vision for success includes more Target Boys taking Algebra 1 on matriculation to high school; improved diagnostic testing by Target Boys; more achieving grade level proficiency; more demonstrating significant improvement in at least 2 of the 7 domains assessed by the MAPS instrument, with particular focus on the first four, i.e. confidence in, and attitudes towards mathematics; persistence in problem solving; a belief about whether mathematical ability is static or developed; and motivation and interest in studying mathematics. More will be able to articulate the important role of mathematics to their future success; more will outperform their counterparts in their districts in all academic metrics in the aggregate; and the respective district GPA achievement gap will be cut in half for Target Boys. Our success will have a significant impact on LA county's economy, education system, and quality of life, also positively impacting many of the other identified issues LA cares about

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

The BOSS Program Impact Metrics, which confirm 5 consecutive years of across-the-board outperform, will be both quantitative and qualitative and will include near-term (current academic year), medium-term (junior and senior Year of high school; and long-term (college and post Bachelor's degree). Internally, BOSS documents formative and summative assessments in the course of year-round and multi-year program activities. Formative assessments are done using surveys, observations, and evaluations conducted by our program directors and mentor/coaches; and anecdotal evidence from conversations with BOSS students, parents, and teachers. Summative assessment includes formal evaluation of performance in the program against benchmarks established for achievement in each of the 6 Pillars of BOSS' value system (Mental/Academic, Emotional, Economic, Physical, Social, and Spiritual), and achievement of self-directed goals for personal growth and development established by the students.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 200

Indirect Impact: 300,000

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

While we are not submitting a collaborative proposal, we will be working closely with the Hesabu Circle and its members through our math consultant and a founding member of the Hesabu Circle https://rb.gy/0w5l1, Dr. Kagba Suaray who, like our leader, shares the lived experiences of the Target Boys the project will impact https://rb.gy/lx3zt. Dr. Suaray will be responsible for the developing a culturally relevant, online math resource we will make available throughout LA county We have in the past and will continue to involve representatives from the CSU/UC Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project to create grade level assessment tools. MDTP develops and provides diagnostic tools and training to support CA math educators in preparing students for success in mathematics courses.