Wayne State\'s Center for Excellence and Equity in Mathematics receives $600,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation

Grant will support successful mathematics pipeline program as it works toward endowment campaign.

June 2, 2009

Wayne State University was awarded a grant of $600,000 from the Kresge Foundation to the Center for Excellence and Equity in Mathematics and the continued success of its signature Math Corps program. The three-year grant provides operational support to the program as the center focuses greater effort on completing a multi-million dollar endowment campaign that will become a permanent source of funding.

The Center for Excellence and Equity in Mathematics, chartered in 2007, builds upon the successful 16-year legacy of a collection of programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - Math Corps, Emerging Scholars Program, WSU Middle School Math Program and Math Corps College Success Center. These programs provide not only innovative and essential mathematics education, but also a sense of community and critically important support networks. Collectively, these programs serve approximately 1,500 students per year.

"The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is profoundly grateful to the Kresge Foundation for its investment in the Math Corps program for deserving and capable Detroit middle school students," said Robert L. Thomas, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "This level of support is crucial in facilitating the development of programs to provide transformational improvement in mathematics education for K-12 schools in Detroit and in other great U.S. cities. This larger scale development is anticipated to result from the pioneering research, training and outreach partnering activities that will take place through the Center for Excellence and Equity in Mathematics."

Some statistics that underscore the success of these programs include:
• Since 1995, an estimated 90 percent of Math Corps students have graduated from high school and 80 percent have gone on to college.

• Since 1991, Emerging Scholars Program students who participated in calculus and pre-calculus classes had pass rates of 85-90 percent, compared with 45-50 percent pass rates in the traditional courses.

The mission of the center is two-fold: to improve the quality of K-12 and introductory college-level mathematics courses, and to use mathematics as a tool for students from inner cities and underrepresented minority groups to recognize and capitalize on educational and lifetime opportunities.

"Since its founding, the Math Corps has been working to provide Detroit's children with the same kinds of educational and lifetime opportunities that most other kids receive as a matter of course," explained Steve Kahn, director of the center. "In a city where the obstacles to success can be overwhelming, the Math Corps always has been about making a difference and changing lives and will remain so. The Kresge Foundation's generous grant will go a long way to helping us maintain that focus."

The grant helps position the center to meet the challenge of providing an excellent mathematics education to greater numbers of students, directly addressing the university's responsibility to prepare young people in Detroit's K-12 public schools for successful access and transition to higher education. The university's new president, Jay Noren, credits Math Corps for promoting both academic success and personal growth among at-risk students by holding them to high standards and creating a supportive and caring environment in which they can excel.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research university offering more than 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to more than 31,000 students.