Newton, MA |

The Akamai Foundation today announced a $75,000 grant to the Newton Public Schools in support of The Calculus Project, a district initiative to narrow the achievement gap for low-income and students of color. The grant will provide critical support as the district seeks to maintain and expand the program.

The Calculus Project aims to increase the number of low-income and students of color in higher-level math classes, with the goal of reaching Calculus by senior year of high school. It is comprised of an intensive summer enrichment program, as well as a school year long after school support program. Together, the two components build math skills, develop strong study skills, and provide real world examples of careers in math and science.

“The Akamai Foundation and the Newton Public Schools share an ongoing commitment to helping promote mathematics education and to encourage and inspire the next generation of technology innovators and leaders,” said Dr. Tom Leighton, CEO and co-founder, Akamai. “We are proud to support the Calculus Project in its goal to promote mathematics for underserved students and to inspire them to pursue math, engineering, and science in college and careers.”

Begun three years ago as a pilot program, The Calculus Project was inspired by research demonstrating a strong association between success in high-level math classes and attainment of a college degree. Positive feedback, promising results, and increased demand have led the district to seek new partners that will allow it to maintain and expand the program. Since its inception, The Calculus Project has utilized a public-private partnership model. Initial funding for the program came from a generous anonymous donor, the NPS operating budget, and the Newton Schools Foundation.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Akamai Foundation in support of this critical program,” said David Fleishman, Superintendent of Newton Public Schools. “Sustaining and expanding The Calculus Project will allow us to continue our efforts to narrow the achievement gap and ensure that greater numbers of under-represented students enroll and succeed in higher-level math classes.”

Currently, 85 students are enrolled in The Calculus Project. The district aims to add 40-50 students to the program each year as students progress through grade levels. The program currently includes 7th, 8th, and 9th graders. By the 2018-19 school year, it will have full participation in grades 7-12, serving approximately 200 students. At full capacity with all program elements, the projected cost of the program is approximately $200,000.

“This program represents an outstanding example of a public-private partnership,” said Setti Warren, Mayor of the City of Newton. “When the city and schools work closely with a dedicated corporate citizen like Akamai, who is committed to improving opportunities for students, the entire community benefits.”

The Calculus Project is comprised of two main structural components. During the intensive summer program, students meet every morning in July to review math skills and preview material to be introduced the following school year. Presenters are brought in to share insight and knowledge about careers in math, science and engineering. Students also participate in field trips to businesses utilizing math concepts at the core of their work. During the school year, students attend after school support and are grouped together in math classes to assist one another.

“The Newton Schools Foundation is proud to have supported The Calculus Project for the past three years,” said Marcia Tabenkin, co-president of the Newton Schools Foundation. “We look forward to continuing to partner with the Newton Public Schools to maintain and expand this innovative program.”

Early data from The Calculus Project shows promising results. Overall, students of color and low-income student have enrolled in higher-level math classes at a higher rate. Data also suggests increased confidence among students. Early signs indicate that building skills in mathematics, as well as building strong study skills, positively impacts students’ comfort, preparation and readiness to learn challenging math curriculum and to take greater academic risks.

The Akamai Foundation - was established in 2000 and is funded solely by Akamai executives, its employees and individuals outside the company. The Akamai Foundation is dedicated to excellence in mathematics, with the aim of promoting math’s importance and encouraging America’s next generation of technology innovators. For more information on the Akamai Foundation, visit: www.akamai.com/foundation

The Newton Public Schools – seeks to educate, prepare, and inspire all students to achieve their full potential as lifelong learners, thinkers, and productive contributors to our global society. For more information on The Calculus Project, visit: www.newton.k12.ma.us/thecalculusproject

The Newton Schools Foundation – aims to enhance and broaden community support for public education and provide private funding for enhancement, innovation and challenging programs across a student’s K – 12 experiences in the Newton Public Schools. For more information, visit: www.newtonschoolsfoundation.org.