WHO WE ARE
The Algebra Project is a 501c3 registered non-profit organization working with teachers,
schools, and communities to ensure students who have not previously had access to a
college preparatory sequence can make the conceptual shift from arithmetic to
alegbraic thinking. Our primary focus is on building collaborations with middle schools
and high schools to ensure that students are successful in higher-level mathematics,
attaining an on-time high school graduation in which they are fully prepared for college
or career without need for remediation in math.
The Algebra Project utilizes a multi-pronged strategy to raise the floor of mathematics
- a math cohort model in which students and teachers loop together for two or more years,
- an experientially-based Five-Step Curricular Process that leverages students’ thinking,
- curricular interventions in algebra, geometry, and other key content areas,
- intensive teacher professional development programs and job embedded coaching,
- community coalition building,
- and research-based resources to support student and teacher success in the arena of K-12 mathematics.
The Algebra Project is uniquely situated to meet any school where they are, whatever their resources, and co-develop plans with local stakeholders so that interventions are uniquely tailored to their needs.
Bob Moses founded the Algebra Project in the 1980s. He was coming out of deep experiences in the civil rights movement, had been teaching secondary school mathematics both in the U.S. and in Tanzania, and would obtain a graduate degree in the philosophy of math at Harvard University. Bob leveraged the strategies he developed through these experiences to inform our approaches to what to teach, how to teach, and how to assess the teaching and learning of mathematics, in particular for students under served by traditional methods. For us, math literacy is the ability to read, write and reason with the symbol systems of mathematics.
Historically, the Algebra Project has been composed of a small staff, several consultants with a range of expertise, and a volunteer board of directors. The Algebra Project engages in national work by operating in an organizing mode that Bob Moses passed on to us – always looking to build local and national collaborations that together can get a larger job done. So, it is of critical importance that we cultivate community buy-in as a pre-condition for designing successful interventions with teachers, schools, students, and families. Contact us to explore how we can support the learning and teaching of mathematics with your students, teachers, and schools.
1982, Mr. Moses was frustrated that his 8th grade daughter’s school, MLK Jr School, did not offer algebra, so he asked the teacher to let her sit by herself in class and do more advanced work. The teacher invited Mr. Moses to teach Maisha and several classmates. Moses, who had just received a five-year MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, continued this teaching in middle school math classes to ensure students would graduate prepared for a college prep sequence in high school, which he considered the minimal acceptable “floor” of math literacy. Moses began using his experience in these classrooms to develop AP’s “Transition Curriculum”, to enable a transition from arithmetic to algebraic thinking. This was the beginning of the Algebra Project.
By the late 80s, and with the collaboration of Cynthia Silva (Parker) and Jacqueline Rivers, the Algebra Project secures a fiscal agent paving the way for national growth in the 1990s. Jackie begins spearheading the Algebra in Middle Schools (AIMS) initiative in Boston Public Schools.
The Algebra Project formally incorporates as a non-profit in 1991, with the mission of raising the floor of math literacy and the belief that math literacy is the key to 21st-century citizenship.
In 1991, Moses enlists the help of Dave Dennis and his company, Positive Innovations, to initiate a Southern Initiative Algebra Project, beginning in Mississippi and later expanding to the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Arkansas.
As the initiative expands, sister organizations like the Chicago Algebra Project, New York City Algebra Project, Indianapolis Algebra Project and Baltimore Algebra Project begin incorporating.
Moses enlists the help of Bill Crombie and Jim Burruss to begin developing the Training of Trainers program in order to produce more facilitators of Algebra Project Professional Development versed in the Transition Curriculum and the Algebra Project’s Five-Step Curricular Process.
Moses recruits Ben Moynihan to coordinate a team that produces an African Drums & Ratios curriculum for elementary school students.
By the late 90’s and with support from the Open Society Institute, the National Science Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, The Lilly Endowment, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, and others, the Algebra Project stretches coast-to-coast, reaching 10,000 middle school students per year.
Moses initiates a high school adaptation of the Algebra Project at Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi.
In 2001, Moses, alongside SNCC veteran and journalist Charlie Cobb Jr., publish Moses’ memoir Radical Equations: Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project, which chronicles Moses’ journey from the voting rights movement to his creation of the Algebra Project.
Enabled by an NSF grant and fiscal support from donors and foundations, Moses collaborates with research mathematicians Greg Budzban, Ed Dubinsky, David Henderson, and others to develop high school mathematics curriculum.
From 2002 to 2006, Moses developed the first Algebra Project math cohort model at Lanier high school, which would become an instrumental practice for ensuring students entering high school performing in the lowest quartile could pass state exams, graduate on time in four years, and graduate prepared for college or career mathematics without remediation.
In the 2006-2007 academic year, Moses was named a Frank H. T. Rhodes Class of ’56 Professor at Cornell University.
During his visits to the New Orleans Algebra Project, an idea is generated that quality education as a Constitutional right is a necessary precursor to raising the floor of math literacy. These discussions lead to a national working conference at Howard University in 2005, and a collection of essays published in 2010, both titled Quality Education as a Constitutional Right. QECR remains an ongoing effort with monthly meetings.
Moses becomes an Eminent Scholar at the Center for Urban Education and Innovation at Florida International University, and begins an Algebra Project implementation in Miami-Dade schools.
After receiving an NSF grant, the Algebra Project begins a study on high school math cohorts in: Mansfield, Ohio; Ypsilanti, Michigan; Eldorado, Illinois; and Los Angeles, California.
In the 2011-2012 academic year, Moses was a visiting scholar at the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University.
In 2016, the Algebra Project and partner organizations receive support from the NSF INCLUDES programs to organize working conferences to design a national alliance in support of K-12 math literacy. This lead to the formation of the We the People – Math Literacy for All Alliance, which continues to meet weekly.
Inspired by the math literacy organizing happening in the community, the Florida Local Alliance for Math Literacy and Equity (FLAME) is formed at FIU in collaboration with community organizations, colleges, and local school districts.
In 2018, with Algebra Project Board Member Danny Glover, Courtland Cox of the SNCC Legacy Project, and others, Moses meets with Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Bobby Scott about the need for increasing federal investment in K-12 math education.
In 2019, the WTP-ML4A holds a national conference in Washington, D.C. and a public briefing on Capitol Hill calling for the federal government to increase support for K-12 mathematics education.
In July of 2020, a QECR virtual townhall was held with 1,000 participants. This established the qualityeducationasaconstitutionalright.org website.
In April 2021, Moses initiated a National Consensus Project to Eliminate Caste in America’s Classrooms, with a series of discussions with students, teachers, researchers and activists. In the same month, Moses was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
On July 25th, 2021, Bob Moses passes away at his home in south Florida at the age of 86. Memorials are organized in Miami, Florida; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and online.
By the time of his passing, Dr. Moses had received 17 honorary doctorate degrees and 9 NSF awards. The Algebra Project throughout its duration has been involved in 13 NSF awards so far.
Building on previous studies that Moses was involved in, the Algebra Project partners with ETS to explore new assessments on student collaboration and with Kennesaw State University on an integration of computational thinking in the teaching of mathematics in secondary schools.
In 2022, the Algebra Project and the We the People – Math Literacy for All Alliance host an online national conference to push forward Moses’ vision of raising the floor of math literacy.
In 2023, the American Mathematical Society published a tribute article featuring 26 collaborators who knew Moses to celebrate his legacy.