Calabasas, Calif. — The Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival has received a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to support Math Festivals at schools in New York City. The grant will provide 10 Title 1 schools in Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, or Staten Island with $4,000 each worth of play-based math resources to host their own math festivals during the 2023-2024 school year.

“Play-based math is fun and motivates children through challenging tasks,” says JRMF executive director Daniel Kline. “During play, children think for themselves and create their own knowledge. Not only are they willing to take risks, but they also learn from their mistakes. This helps build confidence and a sense of belonging in math.”

This is critical as, according to the New York State Education Department, only 51.5% of 3-8 graders in New York City were proficient in math in 2021. Many of these children will grow up disliking math, which closes the door to opportunities as they become adults and enter the workforce. This is disproportionately true for girls and children of color. Research shows there is a critical need for connecting all children with joyful, engaging math.

“Because of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, hundreds if not thousands of students in New York City will discover a new form of math, full of beauty, wonder, and creativity,” Kline says.

Title 1 schools can apply for one of the 10 seed grants here. Each seed grant includes:

“Because of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, hundreds if not thousands of students in New York City will discover a new form of math, full of beauty, wonder, and creativity.”

“There are three main barriers to school communities hosting math festivals and sharing fun, play-based, collaborative math with students: time, money, and expertise,” says Kline. “This project aims to lower each of these barriers by providing free materials and training to teachers, principals, and others in school communities. The seed grants are a way for JRMF to fully support our educators and help them incorporate play-based math into their students’ experience.”

JRMF also hopes these seed grants act more like start-up funds for math festivals by inspiring schools to host annual math festivals. The games and puzzles are reusable and transferrable, providing resources that school districts can enjoy for years to come.

“The Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival wants to make math festivals as ubiquitous in American schools as science fairs,” Kline says. “I’m confident we can make it happen with the help of our incredible corporate partners like the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.”

About Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival

The Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival (JRMF) is a nonprofit on a mission to empower communities to create magical math moments. Programming includes engaging educators and students through math festivals and other play-based math events, supporting underserved and underrepresented communities, and creating high-quality, accessible math puzzles. Since JRMF’s first math festival in 2007, more than 500 events have engaged K–12 students and their teachers. More than 50,000 people have created magical math moments across 30 states, 20 countries, and 6 continents.