Request for Information: Bright Spots in Middle Years Math

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Guided by the belief that all lives have equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s K-12 Education program aims to significantly increase the number of Black, Latino, and low-income students who earn a high school diploma, enroll in a postsecondary institution, and are on track in their first year to earn a credential with labor-market value. We know that opportunity and support are particularly lacking for Black, Latino, and low-income students in the current public education system, and we believe that our communities and our economy will be strongest when all students have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Learn more about our K-12 strategy here.


As part of our ongoing effort to support innovation in K-12 education, we are developing a focused research and development (R&D) program to support Black, Latino, and low-income students. One of our first projects is aimed at the achievement of high levels of performance in middle years mathematics (approximately grades 3-9). This R&D program aims to develop, test, and create mechanisms to support the use of a set of specific teaching and learning approaches that drive faster and deeper learning in mathematics, enabling Black, Latino, and low-income students to be fully prepared to be successful by 9th grade.

We are looking for “breakthrough” approaches, which we believe can support students to consistently:

(1) Gain substantially more than a year of learning growth in a single year, enabling those that are behind to accelerate their progress towards grade-level standards
(2) Demonstrate levels of student engagement and motivation in mathematics that show promise in driving significantly higher levels of knowledge and application, and/or
(3) Achieve high levels of proficiency on summative grade-level assessments

Our ultimate goal is to dramatically improve middle years math instruction, so that every Black, Latino, and low-income student deeply knows, is able to use, and enjoys math by the time they are in high school.

To begin building our middle years math R&D program we are issuing a request for information [“RFI”] that seeks to identify approaches that already have begun to show significant promise in supporting Black, Latino, and low-income students to achieve high performance in mathematics and/or approaches that support grades 3-12 teachers of mathematics.


Math is everywhere. Ask any adult if they have ever needed math to make a decision or solve a problem, and most will confirm they regularly use math in their daily lives (evaluating car loans, consumer mortgages, cooking, etc) and their jobs (analyzing data, designing and building products, managing their small businesses, etc). Becoming a high performer in mathematics, as a student, ultimately unlocks power. It opens up a world of opportunities for students to have access to colleges and careers where they can thrive. The Gates Foundation aims to improve student learning outcomes in math so that all students, particularly Black, Latino, and low-income students, thrive in life and their future careers. (Read our background for additional insights into the state of middle years math).

We are issuing an RFI that seeks to identify existing breakthrough programs, models, platforms or tools, supporting Black, Latino, and low-income students1 to achieve high performance in mathematics and/or approaches that support teachers to become highly effective in teaching math. We know that the best ideas come from the people doing the work in the field. We want to learn from organizations that have already developed highly effective approaches for serving Black, Latino, and low-income students (and their teachers) in middle years math that we may not have worked with or been aware of in the past. In addition to identifying outstanding programs, models, tools, platforms and practices, we also seek to understand approaches to community engagement and research used to create these breakthrough approaches, hear bold 10-year visions for the potential reach and impact of breakthrough approaches in math from leading program and model developers, and gain perspective on what is holding the field back from pursuing these bold visions.

We acknowledge that transforming instructional practices and student learning outcomes in middle years math is a complex undertaking, and we are under no illusion that a single approach can fully address these challenges. However, many in the field have been tackling teaching and learning challenges in mathematics for years. We are interested in better understanding the nature and progress of approaches that are showing dramatic improvements in a range of related student learning outcomes.

For additional information, please view: 


If you have questions about the application process in the portal, please use the ‘Help’ feature located at the top right corner of the portal. Here you will find a link to FAQs about using the portal, as well as links to submit specific help requests.

For general questions about the RFI process, consult our FAQs page. For questions not on our FAQs page, please send an email to While we won’t be able to respond to individual questions, we will frequently update our FAQs pages with questions and answers emailed in to We also encourage you to attend our live webinar on May 3rd where we will also answer questions. 


[1] Low-income students can be from any race or ethnicity.

Additional Resources

More Info on the RFI

Learn background information on the Request for Information on Bright Spots in Middle Years Math.


Questions? Please read the Frequently Asked Questions page.

RFI Glossary

A glossary to clarify terms.