2022 Kirby Impact Prize Winner: Why We’re Excited About ServeMinnesota Math Corps

While each of the 5 finalists for the Fred Morgan Kirby Prize for Scaling Social Impact demonstrated innovative scaling strategies, resilience amid challenges, and powerful evidence of impact, one rose to the top of a competitive applicant pool. 

The Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business is pleased to announce ServeMinnesota Math Corps as the winner of the 2021-2022 F. M. Kirby Impact Prize.   

Watch the award announcement here.

The Problem Math Corps is Working to Solve

Too few students are prepared to succeed in math when they enter high school, with the burden falling disproportionately on students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch and African American students.  Yet evidence shows that student who are prepared for high school math courses are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college, and obtain higher paying jobs – even controlling for factors like socio-economic status and race.  Math Corps (an AmeriCorps program of ServeMinnesota) works to ensure access to high quality math support for the most vulnerable learners, to increase their opportunities long-term.

Why We’re Excited About the Impact Potential of Math Corps

With a robust evidence base, equity focus, and a strategy for scale that leverages the power of federal AmeriCorps funding and infrastructure, Math Corps is well-positioned to achieve outsized impact. Not only is Math Corps part of a national solution to addressing longstanding inequities in education, it is also able to address the exacerbations of those challenges in the face of COVID-19’s disruption to instruction.  Math Corps delivers an evidence-based tutoring program to eligible students in grades 4-8, using community tutors who are supported through the federal AmeriCorps program. Math Corps is currently working in seven states, and has served nearly 40,000 students since it began in 2008.  Here are some other reasons we’re excited about Math Corps:

  • Strong processes. Building on a strong foundation of lessons learned, Math Corps has designed an efficient and effective process for program implementation as it expands geographically.  The process accounts for local context, school needs and resources, and the student population – but is streamlined so as to be efficient and repeatable. 
  • A clear plan to scale. In learning through program implementation and engagement with key stakeholders (e.g., school districts, state legislatures), Math Corps has identified two key barriers to scale:  longitudinal data and cost.  In response, Math Corps is creating a proprietary and robust internal assessment tool to reduce the per student cost and identify, place, and track students’ success throughout and beyond the intervention. 
  • Leadership. The selection committee was compelled by the critical income and racial equity disparities that Math Corps is tackling to ensure math success is based on ability and not opportunity.  More importantly, the committee was impressed by the way Math Corps applies the same racial equity lens to itself and its operations by addressing opportunities for growth with transparency and action.

The Plan to Achieve Impact at Scale

Over the next 3-5 years, Math Corps plans to launch programs in 12 additional states and to deepen penetration in existing states, serving thousands more students across the United States. To do so, Math Corps will:

  • Increase organizational footprint: Math Corps will expand to new states and school districts to demonstrate programmatic effectiveness, and cultivate a group of legislative champions and initial programmatic success towards securing robust public investment.
  • Investment in technology: invest in key programmatic improvements to reduce the cost of scaling (both in current and new markets), including developing a proprietary and robust internal assessment tool that will dramatically decrease per students costs.

What’s Next?

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