Growing up in Khalil Fuller’s Los Angeles neighborhood, the name of the game was basketball. For many of his high school friends and kids he was tutoring, the classroom, especially math class, was a turn off.
“The math we were doing was boring, it was whack. It was not fun, it was not engaging, it was not culturally relevant. Of course they didn’t want to do their homework. They wanted to go outside and play basketball.”
They were literally bored of education and headed for a life of trouble.
“94 percent of murder victims under the age of 25 were high school dropouts…literally bored to death.”
It was a reality he vowed to change and today he is on his way to doing that with an innovative idea.
Today, Khalil is the CEO of Learn Fresh. Its mission is to engage low-income students in learning by connecting their academic work with the kinds of activities they enjoy outside the classroom…like basketball.
Its primary project, NBA Math Hoops, partners with the NBA to create a supplemental math curriculum for middle school students, centered around a basketball board game and mobile app. Students learn fundamental math skills through direct engagement with the real statistics of their favorite NBA and WNBA players.
“I knew if we could bring the NBA into the learning equation we could make math fun, engaging and culturally relevant.”
Each winter marks Learn Fresh’s most exciting season. Students and educators across the country engage in a series of unique Math Hoops programs and experiences with partnering NBA teams.
By making math relatable and rewarding, NBA Math Hoops hopes to improve math scores and instill a love of education in young people across the country. And, Khalil says, it seems to be working.
“In early pilots, students’ math improved by 51%...and their attitude toward math fundamentally changed.”
Math Hoops is now being tried in 350 schools nationwide which adds up to more than 40-thousand students collectively doing more than 9-million math problems—and counting!
“So far we’ve created 10-thousand math champions across the country and that’s the tip of the iceberg.”
Khalil believes initiatives like this will spark a love of learning in young students that can set them on a path toward a successful academic career and a fulfilling life.
“The world is a fascinating and fun place. Shouldn’t the classroom be as well?”