Below is a roundup highlighting some of the great work our grantees and Foundation staff accomplished in August 2019.

Bedtime Math & PowerMyLearning

To reverse the “summer slide”—the learning loss suffered by students during the summer months spent out of the classroom—Forbes contributor Talia Milgrom-Elcott explores a variety of ideas to jumpstart your child’s STEM learning, including Bedtime Math. Bedtime Math is an app that translates mathematical concepts into a fun bedtime story for parents and young children to enjoy each evening. Additionally, Milgrom-Elcott also suggests that parents check out PowerMyLearning, which provides resources and activities to help parents and children navigate school together.

Bedtime Math and PowerMyLearning are grantees in the Inspired Minds portfolio.

Reading Partners

Credit: The 74

Reading Partners has been helping low-income and minority students close the reading achievement gap for over 20 years by pairing them with mentors and high-quality books. Now a new study suggests additional social-emotional learning benefits from reading with children. Eighty-three percent of the Reading Partners students participating in this study saw improvements in their social competence, persistence, self-control, and reading engagement by the end of the school year. Check out the 74 for more on this story.

Reading Partners is a grantee in the Innovative Schools portfolio.


In Florida, the Pasco County School District is one of only twelve districts across the nation to win a Gates Foundation grant to support new middle school math materials. The Tampa Bay Times reports that the district will partner with TNTP to train teachers on how to use the Illustrative Math curriculum. The district has been working with TNTP for the past five years. In 2014, the group visited classrooms and found that many teachers lacked materials that aligned to the state standards. With this new grant, the goal is to get proper materials in teachers’ hands and show them how to best challenge their students at all proficiency levels. 

TNTP is a grantee in the Exceptional Educators portfolio.


Tonia Tucker shows a message she received through Vroom while sitting with her 15-month old son, Anderson Dye, at Tucker’s home in Milwaukee. Credit: Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Amid today’s advanced technologies, the humble text message is offering new promise for closing gaps in student achievement–by targeting the behavior of their parents. BIP Lab studies have shown that well-timed, well-crafted text messages to parents have led to an increase in reading to toddlers and a rise in Head Start enrollment and attendance—as much as a 20 percent reduction in absenteeism. At the high school level, they’ve led to teens skipping fewer classes, completing more homework, and earning higher grades. Read the full USA Today piece to learn more. 

BIP Lab is a grantee in the Early Impact portfolio.

Springboard Collaborative

This editorial from The Oklahoman was sparked from recent NPR coverage of Springboard Collaborative that highlighted the program’s impact on literacy. Jim Priest, the editorial author, was heartened by the Springboard Collaborative model and notes that while the organization does not currently have operations in Oklahoma—a state which only surpasses 4 others in fourth-grade reading scores—the principles behind it are: kids, adults, books, and commitment.   

Springboard Collaborative is a grantee in the Early Impact portfolio.

Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA)

Education Professor Sean Reardon has launched an interactive data tool that shows how school poverty affects educational achievement. Credit: Holly Hernandez

New research suggests that racial segregation remains a major source of educational inequality, but because racial segregation almost always concentrates minority students in high-poverty schools. The Educational Opportunity Project, which released the report alongside a new interactive data tool, released a new way to explore and compare data from the Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA), the first comprehensive national database of academic performance. First launched in 2016 in a researcher-friendly format, SEDA contains 350 million reading and math test scores from third-to-eighth grade students between 2008-2016, including district-level measures of racial and socioeconomic composition, among other education-related conditions. Full coverage of this issue and the Educational Opportunity Project’s new research can be found in Forbes, EdSource, the74, and Mirage News.

SEDA is a grantee in the Data for Action portfolio.

Sesame Street

With its new book, Ready for School!: A Parent’s Guide to Playful Learning for Children Ages 2 to 5, Sesame Street wants parents to realize that there isn’t much distinction between back-to-school season and summertime fun. The book is based on Sesame Street’s own fundamentals and curriculum, weaving together fun and practical teaching moments that are rooted in everyday experiences. Among the favorite lessons highlighted in this POPSUGAR article: it’s okay not to know all of the answers.

Sesame Street is grantees in the Early Impact portfolio.


FIRST ® RISE(SM) powered by Star Wars: Force for Change. The Force is building. Credit: FIRST ROBOTICS

FIRST—the parent organization of FIRST LEGO League Jr, FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge, and the FIRST Robotics Competition—is partnering with Disney through its Star Wars: Force For Change charity initiative designed to “empower the fan community to use their fandom for good” and an organization to “embolden and motivate the next generation of heroes and innovators.” Each of FIRST’s four robotics competitions is designed for a different age group, giving kids from grades K-12 the opportunity to use LEGO building and the LEGO NXT robotics systems to address real-world inspired challenges. The collaboration will infuse the Star Wars universe into a forthcoming FIRST robotics challenge. Forbes contributor Nikki Baird highlights why this new partnership is a win-win for Disney and for FIRST’s school-age participants

FIRST is a grantee in the Inspired Minds portfolio.

Waterford UPSTART

For parents of 4-year-olds without access to Indiana’s On My Way Pre-K voucher program or whose families can’t afford preschool, Waterford UPSTART is providing an effective, affordable alternative, suggests the Journal Review. Students spend 30 minutes each day on personalized reading, math, and science lessons. A liaison offers guidance on social and emotional training and parents can track their child’s progress via an app. This year, roughly 16,000 children in 15 states graduated, according to Waterford. The program could expand to 22,000 students by 2020.

Waterford UPSTART is a grantee in the Early Impact portfolio.

Khan Academy

A high school student works on a laptop in a math class at Detroit Public Schools. The district uses Khan Academy to prepare students to take the PSAT and SAT tests. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Khan Academy is celebrating its 10th anniversary! For their big 1-0, they’re launching Khan Academy Districts, a new program for school districts “provides tools, professional development, and data insights to help teachers, district administrators and principals drive student achievement district-wide. District leaders gain insights into student progress via reports on usage and impact,” says the organization. While Khan Academy already offers free data dashboards to teachers, their new paid tool will allow school officials to see how students in multiple classrooms are doing in specific subject areas. A full exploration of the new services and their potential impact for both students and teachers is explored in this Chalkbeat article.

Khan Academy is a grantee in the Inspired Minds portfolio.

STEM Learning Ecosystems

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded a $10 million INCLUDES Alliance grant to Pitt’s Broadening Equity in STEM (BE STEM) Center and the STEM Learning Ecosystem Community of Practice (SLECoP), a network of STEM partners and programs across 84 regions. According to the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, this five-year grant award will make Pitt the center of the STEM Pathways for Underrepresented Students to HigherEd Network, “a national collaborative of pre-college programs, STEM educators, college admissions professionals, and others committed to increasing diversity in STEM,” and support the creation of an accreditation model that communicates the efficacy of these pre-college programs to college admissions officers.

STEM Learning Ecosystems is a grantee in the Inspired Minds portfolio.

Providence Talks

Stephanie Taveras, a home visitor from Providence Talks, left, provides a book and suggestions for Providence mom Ashley Cox on how to involve 16-month-old Jaiden in the foundations of reading in 2014. Credit: The Providence Journal, file / Sandor Bodo

Bloomberg Philanthropies announced that it plans to expand the Providence Talks model to 5 new cities: Birmingham, Detroit, Hartford, Louisville, and Virginia Beach. The intervention relies on Learning Environment Analysis (LENA) pedometer technology, which is designed to increase the number of words heard by children in low-income households. The expansion comes against the backdrop of an Overdeck Family Foundation-funded Brown University study that concluded the intervention works, however, some parts of it are more effective than others. The Providence Journal details the story.

Providence Talks is a grantee in the Early Impact portfolio.

All Our Kin

Pauline Robinson-Brown, left, leads a lesson about animals for children in her family child care program. Lisa Fay, right, an education coach, observes so she can reflect on the lesson later with Robinson-Brown. Credit: Emily Tate / EdSurge

For caregivers like Pauline Robinson-Brown, New Haven-based All Our Kin is an invaluable resource. All Our Kin works with family child care providers to build high quality, sustainable childcare businesses by working with providers at every part of their journey, including transitioning from a different career or a stint as a stay-at-home mom to becoming an early childhood educator and business owner.

It’s no wonder that All Our Kin Founder Janna Wagner was honored by Teach for America with the 2019 Peter Jennings Award, which recognizes Teach For America alumni whose work has led to significant progress toward educational equity and excellence. Learn more about Janna and All Our Kin in this Teach for America interview

All Our Kin is a grantee of the foundation.

Foundation News

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