Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenge grantees are encouraged to make Algebra 1 more accessible, relevant, and collaborative for Black, Latinx, English Learners, and students experiencing poverty
BetterLesson, a leading provider of high quality virtual and in-person K–12 professional learning, announces that the company’s “Empowered Algebra Learning For All” solution is one of only 11 grantees chosen for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenge. Algebra 1 is among the most important on-track indicators of students’ future success. In fact, students who do not complete Algebra 1 have just a one-in-five chance of graduating from high school.
The content of Algebra 1 tends to reflect the inequities experienced by Black and Latinx students, thereby failing to engage their strengths, and inhibiting learning. BetterLesson will collect input from students to develop and test new activities on the Desmos platform that provide multiple access points and engage through creativity, exploration, and collaboration, such as sketching and free-form writing.
In addition, BetterLesson’s Empowered Algebra Learning for All solution will provide 17 hours of professional learning support for Algebra 1 educators through a mix of virtual and in-person support from BetterLesson Coaches. BetterLesson Coaches will work with educators to deepen their work over the course of the year, as educators move from a focus on identity and self-reflection, to student agency and engagement and cultural connections and inclusivity.
“Our entire team couldn’t be more honored and humbled,” said Erin Osborn, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at BetterLesson. “It’s not every day that a thoroughly mission-aligned project like this comes around; inviting innovation in an area that holds such transformational potential to impact students’ lives and opportunities. We are ALL IN over here!”
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has used the Grand Challenge platform for decades to solve some of the world’s toughest global challenges, sourcing solutions from the world’s brightest minds. In its first-ever education-related Grand Challenge, the goal of Balance the Equation: A Grand Challenge for Algebra I is to encourage new ideas with the promise to accelerate student learning toward mastery of Algebra 1 by the end of ninth grade.
In early 2021, BetterLesson and 14 other Phase I grantees received $100,000 to develop, test, and refine their solutions to make Algebra 1 more accessible, relevant, and collaborative for Black, Latinx, English Learners, and students experiencing poverty. Phase I awardees then could apply for up to $1 million support in Phase II.
Now, the 11 Phase II grantees—including BetterLesson—will get an additional $1 million to put their ideas into action. The Phase II awardees were chosen from over 416 applications from organizations across 26 countries. Nine of the 11 organizations chosen are minority-led and roughly 45% of them were first-time grantees to the foundation.