A Day in the Life of a YPP Math Literacy Worker
“We help [younger] kids to understand math in a way that we didn’t get to when we were their age. All MLWs have to be leaders. A great MLW is a great team member, someone who comes to the workshop and actually gives energy. Kids look up to teenagers, what they see from us, that’s what they’re going to do.”
The Young People’s Project (YPP) was envisioned and continues to conduct its work in the spirit of Ella Baker. Founded in 1996 by two generations of young people, YPP is an outgrowth of the Algebra Project which Bob Moses founded as part of the legacy of SNCC’s student-led grassroots organizing and voter registration efforts in 1960’s Mississippi. It has since grown into a nationally recognized, math literacy and youth empowerment nonprofit that serves over 600 students and teachers across 14 sites every year.
Through 25 years of partnering with schools and community-based organizations, YPP has demonstrated that it is possible to develop and implement a ground-up education program that engages young people who are most often underrepresented in STEM fields, in learning and teaching math through near-peer mentoring, in a way that increases their interests in math, their persistence, confidence and willingness to more broadly serve their communities. The program shows a path toward improving education for those who are not benefitting from the country’s public educational system. This year (2022) marks YPP’s 25th Anniversary as a nonprofit organization.
YPP is a solution that young people build with each other, under the leadership, support, and guidance of invested adults. MLWs learn pieces of math well enough to teach it and learn to facilitate math activities with middle school students. Together they learn and teach each other math in ways that are meaningful and engaging. As a result, they develop as a community, and become their own support. In doing so they invite and challenge the adults and systems around them to see and treat them differently.
As one middle school principal put it, “YPP may not be the answer for every child, but it is the answer for the community, that we begin to see our children differently, that we begin to believe in them.”
YPP seeks to recruit MLWs from high school students representing a diverse group of academic performers and peer leaders, from the same community as the middle school students. The training of high school students as paid Math Literacy Workers (MLWs) develops the abilities of the middle school students and the high school students themselves, to succeed in school and in life, and in doing so involves them in efforts to eliminate institutional obstacles to their success. MLWs care that the younger students learn and have fun.
YPP is Exploring STEM Literacy
In this video you will see YPP’s emerging Computer Science and STEM literacy
work in action at Excel High School in Boston, MA.
In this video you will see YPP’s National Youth “Flagway” Math Tournaments.
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