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BCPS Awarded $100,000 Grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenge for Algebra I

Student using a computer How do you make learning Algebra 1 more engaging and relevant to all students, particularly minority students, including those who may be learning a second language, and those from low-income families? This question is at the heart of a new pilot program being developed by Broward County Public Schools (BCPS), in collaboration with the Algebra Project, the Florida Alliance for Math Literacy & Equity, the Young People’s Project, Terratorium, Educational Testing Service and other education partners, thanks to a grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

BCPS is one of just 15 awardees across the country selected to participate in the first phase of the Balance the Equation: A Grand Challenge for Algebra 1 grant. The grant is the foundation’s first-ever Grand Challenge focused on education in the United States and is based on research that shows Algebra 1 is one of the most important on-track indicators for students’ success in the future. The way Algebra 1 has been traditionally taught in classrooms, however, has resulted in equity gaps in achievement and students’ ability to use math in their subsequent academic, work and civic lives.

Through the Grand Challenge grant initiative, educational systems are encouraged to rethink the way Algebra 1 is taught to help students – particularly those from diverse or low socio-economic backgrounds – understand how the skills learned through Algebra 1 can be applied in the real world, build successful support systems within school communities, create new ways to engage students in learning Algebra, and empower and strengthen teacher practices to better meet the unique needs of each student.

The Phase 1: Planning and Prototyping grant, provides $100,000 for the District and its education partners to develop the pilot study plan for rethinking Algebra 1 education.  Upon completion of Phase 1, the District will apply for a Phase 2: Pilot Study grant. If selected, Phase 2 provides up to $1 million to implement the plan in schools.

“Thank you to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for offering the Grand Challenge. We believe our students’ success in Algebra 1 creates a strong foundation for their futures,” said BCPS Superintendent Robert W. Runcie. “Ensuring our schools are teaching students in a way that creates relevance and real-world connections is critical, as we work to solve equity gaps, build strong relationships between teachers and students, and maximize learning.”

To learn more about the Balance the Equation: A Grand Challenge for Algebra 1 grant, visit






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Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth largest school district in the nation and the second largest in the state of Florida. BCPS is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962. BCPS has nearly 261,500 students and approximately 110,000 adult students in 241 schools, centers and technical colleges, and 92 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, with students representing 170 different countries and 147 different languages. To connect with BCPS, visit, follow us on Twitter @browardschools, on Facebook at and download the free BCPS mobile app.