John Mighton

Organization: 
JUMP Math
Country: 
Canada

JUMP Math is dedicated to helping children succeed at learning math by offering educators, tutors and parents complete and balanced materials and training to help them reach all students.

Focus: Education
Geographic Area of Impact: Canada, USA
Model: Social business
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 150,000 (2013)
Annual Budget: USD $1.98 million (2013)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 52% (2013)

The Social Problem
The critical importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills has come into sharp focus in recent years. Economic forecasts predict the need for 1 million more STEM graduates over the coming decade to fill entry-level positions requiring algebra, geometry, probability, data interpretation, and statistics. Yet 54% of American students struggle with basic numeracy and 55% of adult Canadians lack numeracy skills needed to navigate their lives. Much of this can be attributed to the conventional way mathematics are taught in K-12, which has hardly changed in decades. Early on, students are separated in math classes by ability, with many students “written off” as not having the innate ability to learn math and instructed by underequipped and overwhelmed teachers who often struggle with the lesson material themselves.

Innovation and Activities
JUMP Math, which stands for Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigy, starts with the premise that “all children can learn math, all teachers can teach math, and both can and should enjoy it.” JUMP’s revolutionary math curriculum draws on the latest breakthroughs in cognitive science research and combines guided exercises with independent work that breaks down difficult concepts into simple, logical steps. This methodology allows students to experience the positive reinforcement they need to encourage further learning while giving teachers the tools they need to accomplish the nearly impossible task of teaching to the entire class while tailoring lessons to individual students’ needs.

Currently, JUMP Math curriculum is taught to over 140,000 students across Canada and 10,000 students in the US. 80% of JUMP Math’s earned income is derived from textbook sales and 20% from teacher training, while major grantors include the Gates Foundation, Fundacion Telefonica, and LIFT Philanthropy Partners. Whereas in the early years JUMP Math spread largely by word of mouth from enthusiastic teachers, the organization is now negotiating contracts school board by school board and is poised to scale dramatically in 2015. JUMP Math has also negotiated a non-exclusive licensing agreement with a major US educational publisher to digitize its math curriculum for millions of US students in grades 1 – 6.

A randomized control trial into the cognitive effectiveness of JUMP’s curriculum performed by Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children found that children in the JUMP program mastered mathematical concepts at twice the rate than children receiving standard math instruction. JUMP is working with and recognized by cognitive scientists, has been featured in Scientific American, and Dr. Mighton has spoken at the Aspen Brain Forum. A social return on investment (SROI) model on JUMP Math indicates an estimated return of $57 for every $1 invested, and the curriculum is already being piloted in diverse countries including Spain, Bulgaria, and Ireland.

The Entrepreneur
Dr. John Mighton is a mathematician, author, playwright, and the founder of JUMP Math. His plays have been performed across Canada, Europe, Japan, and the United States and won multiple awards. He has been an Ashoka Fellow since 2004, was awarded three honorary doctorates in recognition of his lifetime achievements, and was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada. The author of The Myth of Ability: Nurturing Mathematical Talent in Every Child and The End of Ignorance, John Mighton believes that “once kids are taught to their full potential by kindergarten, 99% of our students will look like our top 1% students now.”