The UC Irvine Math Community Educational Outreach (MATH CEO) is an innovative comprehensive university-community partnership that links grade 6-12 Latinx youth and their families from underserved communities in Southern California with UC Irvine faculty, undergraduate and graduate student mentors.
The main activities of the UCI Math CEO program are the weekly 60-90 minutes long afterschool math enrichment sessions where school kids work with UCI mentors in small groups on fun and challenging math problems. Through these weekly sessions, school kids not only gain confidence in tackling math problems but also develop close bonds with UCI students – many of whom are also from underserved minority communities.
Most of the Math CEO sessions take place on the UCI campus; hence, the school kids gain an invaluable sense of belonging and familiarity with college. Math CEO aims for its students to acquire the mindset that they have the ability and perseverance to solve challenging problems, and to learn that UCI is an integral part of their community – it is a welcoming place for them to begin their adventure towards a bright and productive future.
Math CEO is intentionally structured around pillars that the education literature has identified as features of successful STEM afterschool program for minority youth.
Emphasis on positive youth-mentor relationships
Use of culturally responsive teaching practices
Meaningful engagement of families
Continuity (to sustain, and not just spark, interest in STEM)
Engagement in inquiry
Ongoing assessment for quality improvement
In fall 2019 and winter 2020 Math CEO worked with 357 middle school and high school students, across 6 schools. A total of 88 meetings were offered in a span of 17 weeks, serving between 137 and 226 students each week. Over a hundred UCI students volunteered as mentors.
As instruction transitioned to remote learning in spring, Math CEO has sought to maintain and strengthen the bonds between UCI students and its underserved school kids. Weekly meetings via Zoom resumed in mid-April and continued for six weeks through May. Besides the technical issues of hosting Zoom meetings, Math CEO has had to redesign its original curriculum and recreate its teaching materials to be compatible with an online format. This resulted in a rethinking of how to engage underserved school kids in an optional afterschool program online.
In the 2020-2021 academic year, Math CEO will continue to offer free online math enrichment to youth in our community.