It has been almost twenty years since the inception of the Algebra Project,
but its headquarters are still located in Cambridge. The program that
Robert Moses started is still in operation at the King School. Algebra
Projects are operating in four regions of the US: Northeast, Midwest and
Bay Area, California and the Southern region including 28 school districts.
The number of children involved in the Algebra Project has grown to over
In the early years the Algebra Project was funded by the proceeds of a
MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Award received by Robert Moses.
Today, major grants from the MacArthur and Lilly Foundations, the National
Science Foundation, and the Open Society Institute help to underwrite
the Algebra Project budget of 2.5 million dollars.
Today, there is another component to the Algebra Project called the Young
People's Project. It was founded in 1996 in Jackson, Mississippi by a
number of young people including two of Moses' children Omo and Taba.
These young people as well as Moses recognize that the future growth of
the Algebra Project is tied to organizing young people to demand their
right to a better education, particularly in math.
Bob Moses speaking to 7th grade students in Mississippi in 1997 said,
"I can't make you take algebra, but this is why you want to. Algebra
opens the door to college preparation. You may not go to college but if
you don't go it should not be because you haven't prepared yourself to
The Young People's Project is creating a network of young people some
of whom have participated in the Algebra Project's programs. This group
of young people is committed to getting the message out - that math is
cool and you need it to succeed in life. These young people are the equivalent
of the SNCC voter registration workers of the Freedom Summer.
The Young People's Project operates two sites, one in Cambridge and the
other in Atlanta. We recently met with some of the math literacy workers
of the YPP at their Cambridge Office. During our conversation it was clear
that these workers are dedicated and are pleased that they are making
During our recent interview with Mr. Moses he told us that some of the
Algebra Project students from the Delta region are entering college. Hopefully,
after college some of them may return to the Algebra Project as teachers.
For the future, Mr. Moses is seeking ways to make sure that financial
support for the Algebra Project is steady, that it does not wax and wan,
dependent on the generosity of donors. In addition, he is working with
some research firms to better evaluate the positive impact that the Algebra
Project is having on children across the nation.
Just as Robert Moses committed himself to the civil rights movement not
knowing where it would lead or how long it would take to achieve any of
its goals, he relentlessly works for a better future for the nation's