Balance the Equation: A Grand Challenge for Algebra 1

Algebra 1 is one of the most important on-track indicators of students' future success. Students who do not complete Algebra 1 have a one-in-five chance of graduating from high school and, as it currently stands, Algebra 1 acts as a gatekeeper - rather than a gateway - to future success.

Balance the Equation: A Grand Challenge for Algebra 1

Algebra 1 is one of the most important on-track indicators of students’ future success. Students who do not complete Algebra 1 have a one-in-five chance of graduating from high school and, as it currently stands, Algebra 1 acts as a gatekeeper – rather than a gateway – to future success.

For nearly two decades the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has used Grand Challenges to address and solve key global health and development problems by seeking out and engaging the world’s brightest minds through an open and transparent process focused on the best ideas most likely to make an impact. We are launching the first-ever Grand Challenge focused on education in the United States, centered around the idea of transforming Algebra 1 into a gateway to success.

For nearly two decades the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has used Grand Challenges to address and solve key global health and development problems by seeking out and engaging the world’s brightest minds through an open and transparent process focused on the best ideas most likely to make an impact. We are launching the first-ever Grand Challenge focused on education in the United States, centered around the idea of transforming Algebra 1 into a gateway to success.

 

We are looking for partners to help us radically transform and rethink the traditional math classroom to better support students who have been historically marginalized in math, including Black and Latino students, student who speak a language other than English, and students affected by poverty in the United States. For more information, download the Balance the Equation fact sheet and watch this panel discussion from the 2020 ASU+GSV Summit.

Funding Opportunity

Balance the Equation has five areas of focus, derived through primary research with students, teachers, and academic experts across the nation. These areas have the biggest opportunity for altering the traditional classroom experience for priority students in order to achieve the desired outcomes. Specifically, these areas include:

  • Building out support systems
  • Improving relevance of algebra content
  • Elevating understanding of mathematical language
  • Empowering and strengthening teacher practices
  • Developing new or better feedback mechanisms

We are seeking proposals in response to Balance the Equation that think creatively and prioritize student identity and experience, including:

Expanding daily practices for productive mathematical discussions to build their math identity and reiterate math’s real-life connection in the evolving “classroom environment” (physically or virtually; synchronous or asynchronous).

Incorporating tasks and/or lessons that empower them and/or reflect students’ culture and community or serve to explore issues of humanity and social justice.

Altering the focus of mathematical aptitude from “easily, quickly, and independently arriving at a correct answer” oriented around the individual to more thoughtful, iterative approaches that promote multi-person processes and interactions.

Adding assessment approaches that empower and humanize students and leverage more nuanced forms of data.

Enhancing teacher professional development so educators are set up to meet the unique needs of each student, reflect upon their own biases, and build relationships that allow students to feel supported.

For questions, please email balancetheequation@gatesfoundation.org.

FAQ

Please read our grantmaking eligibility and guidelines carefully.

Be sure to respond to the specific questions asked. Do not skip any questions and make sure you upload the required attachments in the right places. The attachments are important and if you do not have relevant documents to share from your previous work, this probably is not the right funding opportunity for you. Be sure to respect student privacy and all applicable laws.

We don’t have a specific “type” of applicant in mind and are open to a range of institutions. We particularly welcome Lead Applicants that we have never funded before, as well as organizations led or staffed by minorities who understand the experience of the Black, Latinx and low-income students we seek to serve.
Eligibility

Eligibility

This work is part of our US Program and, as such, only organizations focused on America’s public schools and based in the USA and its sovereign states and territories are eligible for funding. Organizations working in the District of Columbia, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are eligible for funding.
Get Help

Get Help

We have chosen not to provide extra help to our existing grantees. We want to ensure that applicants who have no access to the Gates Foundation get the same level of support for their application as those who already have access. This means all information to support applications can be found on this page.