Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Invites Grand Challenge Proposals for Algebra 1

This Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Balance the Equation – A Grand Challenge for Algebra 1 call for proposals is part of the Grand Challenges programme, which fosters innovation in order to solve key problems in global health and development for those most in need. The Grand Challenges initiative seeks to focus research and development efforts and engage the world’s best researchers and innovators.

BMGF is seeking to disrupt the imbalanced system against Black students, Latino students, English Learners (ELs) and students experiencing poverty (‘priority students’ – ie students who have been disproportionately negatively affected in education) in the United States as it relates to their Algebra 1 experience in 7th, 8th or 9th grade, in class or online. This is the first Grand Challenge to focus on US education, although submissions are welcome from any country across the globe.

The call is taking place in two phases:

Phase 1: planning and prototyping grant to develop a pilot study plan alongside BMGF’s external learning partner, American Institute for Research (AIR).

Upon completion of the first phase, awardees can then apply for a phase 2: pilot study grant to enable them to consider how their solution could benefit from the expertise of two or more organisations in a partnership or combine with emerging or existing in-market solutions.

Funding can be used to develop innovative supplemental resources that can be used as a support that expands access to core content while addressing a variety of student learning needs. To maximise student impact and expand access to challenging content that is too often withheld from priority students, applications must identify a specific core mathematics curriculum or course with which the new solutions are meant to be paired. Potential solutions supporting priority students include:

Expanding daily practices for productive mathematical discussions to build their mathematics identity and reiterate mathematics’ real-life connection in the evolving ‘classroom environment’.

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 humanise 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.

BMGF is searching for ingenuity, unusual ideas, unexpected approaches, immersive concepts and solutions that will challenge current mathematics education. The solution must be able to be implemented in the 2021-2022 school year in the United States.

This scheme is open to any organisation based in any country (including non-profit organisations and for-profit companies, such as educators, community leaders, researchers, publishers, educational technology developers and professional learning communities). Applicants based outside the United States are eligible and strongly encouraged to apply.

The funding details for the two call phases are as follows:

Phase 1 planning and prototyping grant: Up to $100,000 for a maximum of four months is available to develop a pilot study plan. Between 10 and 15 awards will be allocated.

Phase 2 pilot study grant: up to $1 million for 13-24 months is available for prototyping and implementation. Between eight and 10 awards will be allocated.

Applications for phase 1 must be submitted by the deadline of 6 November 2020 (12:00 PT). Successful applicants in phase 1 will be invited to move onto phase 2.

More information about this research funding opportunity and the application process is available on the RESEARCHconnect funding information platform. RESEARCHconnect provides up-to-the minute content, insight and analysis on research funding news and policy. To find out more about how RESEARCHconnect can keep you in the know, and subscription fees, contact us today.