Posted October 22, 2014
Students in cities across the United States are excited to be back in school this fall, thanks in part to the engaging experience provided in classrooms by NBA Math Hoops. The program is run by Learn Fresh, an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that works in association with NBA Cares and teams across the country to provide a one-of-a-kind, season-long experience to students.
Young learners in grades 3-8 work with their teachers to hone math skills through a basketball board game, mobile app, and supplemental math curriculum. They also earn points for participation that can be redeemed for apparel, tickets, and unique experiences with NBA players. To date, 40,246 students have enjoyed NBA Math Hoops programs and products, which are produced in-kind for Learn Fresh through contributions from Hasbro and Getty Images.
In the past few weeks, NBA Math Hoops regional programs have launched in Cleveland and Denver, in partnership with the Cavaliers and Nuggets organizations. The program has also caught the eye of a substantial list of implementation partners, including the Boys & Girls Clubs, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Denver Public Schools, and the YMCA. A range of other regional and local partners are also involved, with the goal of reaching students wherever they may be learning.
The unique collaboration created by Learn Fresh's programming efforts is highlighted at the annual "Tipoff Clinic" in each city. Educators in Cleveland and Denver recently enjoyed this unique opportunity to learn about the program while connecting with teachers from across their local community.
“It was awesome to see a program that is designed to engage children, fully captivate adults”, observed Tiombe Morrow, the program’s regional coordinator in Cleveland. “Educators are excited to introduce and utilize the program, and are also excited to share the program with their colleagues.”
The Cleveland program, in its second year of existence, has doubled in growth since its launch in the fall of 2013, with 72 educators set to participate in 2014-15. Denver's community program launched in September and currently includes 25 after-school sites in the regional area. A second wave of programming efforts will launch over the winter, with team partnerships in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Although the initiative is still in an early stage of development, Learn Fresh is intent on rapid growth. In order to reach 100,000 students by June 2015 and a much larger total over the next few years, a range of digital enhancements to the Math Hoops experience are planned, in addition to expansion to and within all large urban education communities in the United States.
Through the growth process, educational quality remains top of mind for the organization. Following a national pilot in 2012-13 and Cleveland community programming in 2013-14, students' scores improved by 29% and 28.3%, respectively. The program also has a substantial impact for teachers, with 75% saying its presence in the classroom makes the teaching process more enjoyable.
The importance of the program for students is also very tangible by just observing them engage with the game, which features many of their favorite NBA and WNBA players.
"There has definitely been an impact", says Joe Sawe, a school leader from Queens, NY. "A lot of the lower performing students in mathematics have had a great chance to shine in a different light.”