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Tensor-SUMMA Grants: Strengthening Underrepresented Minority Mathematics Achievement

The Tensor Foundation has provided funding for the MAA to award grants for projects designed to encourage the pursuit and enjoyment of mathematics by students who are members of groups historically underrepresented in the field of mathematics. Projects may be designed for middle school students, high school students, or college/university students.

College/university mathematics or science faculty may submit proposals. Mathematical sciences faculty should be integrally involved in the proposed project. If the project includes high school or middle school participants, then collaboration with high school or middle school mathematics faculty, as appropriate, should be included.

Proposed projects may replicate existing successful projects, adapt components of such projects, or create new, innovative projects. Project design should reflect strategies that have been shown to be effective in increasing underrepresented minority achievement.

Essential Features of a Project

Projects should provide enrichment activities which lead to heightened interest in mathematics and deeper appreciation of it. These projects are not intended for remedial help for students who need assistance in order to succeed in their coursework in mathematics. They should encourage students to continue studies of mathematics in high school and college and should better prepare them for those studies. Undergraduate and graduate students may serve as role models and work directly with students under the tutelage of faculty from both the college or university and middle or high school.

Active engagement in doing mathematics is an essential feature. Participants should be made aware of career opportunities in mathematics and mathematically intensive disciplines. Implementation of a mentoring component is encouraged and desirable. Please assure that any mentoring component for youth that is included is consistent with local laws and regulations for implementation of such projects.

Projects should be conducted over a sufficient period of time to engage student participants in learning and applying new and interesting mathematics that they would not encounter in their classes. Projects may be conducted during summer or during the school year, on weekends or after school.

Funds may be used to supplement existing projects in order to increase the number of minority students participating in those projects or may be used to initiate new projects. Participation may not be barred to members of any group, but it must be clear that the project will seek to recruit and serve participants from historically underrepresented groups.

Sample Activities

  • Student group and individual research experiences
  • Math Circles
  • Summer mathematics camp
  • Math clubs
  • Preparation for competitions such as the Putnam Competition for college students, MAA American Mathematics Competitions for middle and high school students, and other regional and national competitions.

Nature of the Grant

Grants will be awarded up to $6000 and will be made to the institution of the project director for a one-year project. An institution is expected to supply matching funds or in-kind support as an indication of commitment to the project. These grants will not support any institutional indirect costs or provide fringe benefits. To provide maximum flexibility, unexpended funds may be carried forward. Grant may be awarded for a maximum of three years, but grant recipients must reapply each year, should they wish to continue their projects. 

Who May Apply

Applications will be accepted from college and university mathematical sciences faculty. They must be working with high school or middle school mathematics faculty if the projects targets those students.

Characteristics of Effective Projects

While projects will have a high degree of variability, there are effective projects targeting underrepresented minorities wich share some characteristics:

  • Clearly articulated and measurable project objectives;
  • Strong academic component, with a focus on enrichment;
  • Highly competent, commited, and stable project team;
  • Plans for successfully recruiting and retaining underrepresented minority participants;
  • Provision of information on careers that use mathematics extensively in a way that will encourage students to pursue the study of mathematics;
  • Use of appropriate role models;
  • Involvement of parents, teachers, and counselors for pre-college projects;
  • Development of a peer support system;
  • An environment of mentoring;
  • Institutional commitment.

Submission of Proposals

Please submit all proposal materials online by February 12 of the year for which you would like the grant. Proposals received after the deadline will not be considered. You will receive notification of the outcome of your proposal by the end of March.

Make sure you have the following documents ready as separate PDF files as you will be asked to upload them in appropriate sections of your application:

  • CVs of Project Director and any Co-Directors;
  • Project Description as specified below;
  • Letter(s) of Recommendation from your department chair or other appropriate administrator indicating institutional support of the project and other relevant documents.
  • If a renewal, state the year or years that funding had previously been granted and upload a two-page (maximum) summary of progress to date, including number of participants, successes, and a budget summary of money expended to date;
  • Other relevant documents

Project Description

Project Description should not exceed 5 pages. Please use nothing smaller than 12 point font. Address the following guidelines in the order listed:

  • Concept: state the ideas that form a basis for your project design. Include a description of the context/local conditions that make your project appropriate. Why will your strategies work?
  • Goal 
  • Objectives to meet the goal
  • Recruitment: your plan for reaching the target audience
  • Activities: detailed description of the activities of the project, including the mathematics that participants will learn
  • Personnel qualifications: provide the name, position, and qualifications of the project director and principal members of the team and their role in the project
  • Timeline: timeline for the activities before, during and, if relevant, after the funding year
  • Commitment: In what way is your institution a welcoming host and what resources can the institution provide? What is the long-term commitment of the host institution to the goals of the project and its specific activities?
  • Evaluation: How will you evaluate the success of the project relative to the objectives?  What data, qualitative or quantitative, will you provide, including information on project expenditures, as part of a brief final report to be submitted at the end of the funding year?
  • Sustainability: What is the likelihood of institutionalizing through local or state or institutional funding after the start-up funding provided by the Tensor Foundation?

Review of Proposals

Proposals will be reviewed by a panel which will include members of the MAA Committee on Minority Participationin Mathematics, other MAA members, and a trustee of the Tensor Foundation acting as an advisor.

Contact Information

For further information regarding proposed projects, please contact the MAA Tensor-SUMMA Program Director Rosalie Dance by email radance@gmail.com.

For consultation on your ideas and the scope for projects, proposers are encouraged to contact the MAA Tensor Program Outreach Director Florence Fasanelli by email ffasanelli@verizon.net or phone 202-966-5591.

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