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Investing in Innovation Pays Off for Math Students

This week, Cisco will receive the National Partner in Innovation Award from MIND Research Institute, based in Southern California.

We are honored, but that’s not what is most important.

While many such awards are given annually by nonprofits to recognize their donors, this award actually acknowledges a decade-long partnership between Cisco and MIND to improve student math achievement.

Such a long-term funding relationship is rare; most giving spans at best three to five years. But MIND is rare, too. We have been supporting the organization this long because they have developed one of the best and most effective approaches to helping students learn math that we’ve ever seen, with rigorous and significant student outcome data to prove it.

Our introduction to MIND’s work was at one of their annual meetings, back when they were still serving a relatively small set of schools in their local region. Flying into Orange County, California, I recall remarking to a colleague that there had already been many unsuccessful attempts to technology-enable math learning, and I did not expect to see anything new at the conference.

I was never so happy to be proven wrong.

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What Helps Students Love Math?

multiply impact on students math skills

Photo courtesy of MIND Research Institute

Encouraging highly successful nonprofits to collaborate with each other on shared goals can often be a challenge. Part of their success hinges on laser-like execution of their own program and on getting results. But occasionally, two programs are so complementary that the combination greatly magnifies what they could ever achieve on their own. Cisco has been a longtime partner and supporter of both City Year, an education-focused nonprofit working in underserved schools, and MIND Research Institute, provider of innovative math learning software. Both held admirably strong track records with their approaches. City Year places young volunteers in schools to assist with multi-subject tutoring, before, during, and after school, in a Whole School, Whole Child approach. City Year staff measure their results by tracking what they call the ABCs: attendance, behavior, and classroom performance in literacy and math.

CityYearMIND

Photo courtesy of City Year

MIND Research provides ST Math, a set of cloud-based learning games for K-12. These games are non-language based, which has helped students succeed in learning math regardless of their language of origin, gender, and even, in some cases, learning disabilities. Two years ago, it occurred to Cisco’s Community Relations lead, Ricardo Benavides, that combining the programs in the same underserved Alum Rock district schools in the San Jose, California area might lead to even better outcomes. Read More »

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