At a glance
- Too many K-12 students in the U.S.—especially Black and Latino students and students from low-income backgrounds—experience math as a barrier to success rather than as a gateway.
- We believe that all students can develop the knowledge, skills, and agency to thrive in their communities and in the workforce, and that race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status should not be predictors of educational attainment or economic mobility and security.
- We support the development and use of high-quality math instructional materials and invest in strong teacher preparation and support programs.
- We work with partners that help districts and schools implement practices, protocols, and systems changes that support strong math instruction.
- We invest in research and partnerships to develop new tools that can be translated into high-quality math instruction.
One of the most powerful ways for students to be able to take charge of their own future is through success in math. Math teaches students to make sense of the world and how to be better problem solvers and critical thinkers. Building on our two decades of work in helping to improve K-12 teaching and learning in the U.S., we have made a 10-year commitment to focus on math instruction and outcomes as the cornerstone of student success.
We envision math instruction that is tailored to student needs. The teacher uses digital tools to personalize learning and ensures that students get the help and practice they need to master key concepts. The classroom is an inclusive environment where all students see their interests reflected in the work they are doing. Teachers receive valuable preparation, mentoring, and professional learning aligned to the instructional materials, and they are part of a broader community of math educators who work together to tailor instruction and spread best practices.
Every student deserves this type of classroom, and every teacher deserves this kind of support. This is already happening in some schools across the country. But we want this to be the rule rather than the exception.
Visit our U.S. Program website
Our U.S. Program works to ensure that everyone in the U.S. can learn, grow, and get ahead, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or family income.
Areas of focus
Educators deserve better teaching materials that are academically rigorous, engaging, and motivating to students. We work with partners to develop high-quality materials that are complemented by digital resources that offer maximum personalization for different student learning needs.
Even the best instructional materials can’t have an impact without accompanying support for the teachers who use them. We invest in strong teacher preparation and support programs that align with high-quality math curricula.
We help school districts implement practices, protocols, and systems changes that are most essential for supporting strong math instruction for all students. We also work with the U.S. Program’s Pathways team to create stronger alignment between high school and college math curricula, and we invest in R&D to bridge the gap between research and practice.
Allan Golston, president of the foundation’s U.S. program, shares his excitement (in the video below) to help more students see the joy of math through our K-12 strategy over the next decade. We believe math is for everyone. Through high quality instructional materials, teacher supports, and working with school districts to implement better practices, our goal is to increase student engagement to support their life and career goals.
Why focus on K-12 education?
While many factors affect outcomes for K-12 students, research shows that those who pass Algebra 1 by 9th grade are twice as likely to graduate from high school and are more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree and go on to a well-paid career.
But too many K-12 students in the U.S.—especially Black and Latino students and students from low-income backgrounds—experience math as a barrier to success rather than as a gateway. Many feel out of place in the math
classroom and experience instruction that doesn’t show the relevance of math to their lives. Unfinished learning brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has added to these challenges, widening learning gaps among those with inequitable access to math learning supports.
That’s why we have made a 10-year commitment to focus our K-12 grantmaking on supporting teachers, schools, and districts in their efforts to improve math outcomes.
The Postsecondary Success team supports colleges and universities in making institutional reforms that eliminate race, ethnicity, and income as predictors of educational success.
The Economic Mobility and Opportunity team works to help the U.S. economic system better meet the needs of those experiencing poverty and significantly increase their opportunities to achieve economic success.
The Washington State team works with partners to ensure equitable opportunities for children and families in Washington, where the Gates family has lived for generations.