National Math Stars

National Math Stars

National Math Stars Raises $16.5 Million to Find and Support Mathematically Extraordinary Students Hidden in Plain Sight


New nonprofit invites educators and parents to nominate mathematically extraordinary Texas students in 2nd and 3rd grade, and will support each student with over $100,000 in resources over ten years

HOUSTON, May 1, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — National Math Stars (NMS) has just closed substantial seed funding of $16.5 million for their first three years, with the mission to ensure mathematically extraordinary students from all communities have the resources they need to reach the frontiers of math and science.

NMS is actively recruiting 2nd and 3rd grade students who lack access to sufficiently advanced instruction and community. NMS will recruit its first cohort of 50 – 60 students from Texas. NMS is asking Texas schools to nominate the top 2 – 3% of their students, and will then run a selection process to find the most mathematically extraordinary students whose trajectories are likely to be changed by this program. Parents and others are also able to nominate or apply on behalf of students directly. The application window is open until June 30, 2024. Future cohorts will come from both Texas and other states as the program grows.

They will give each admitted, mathematically extraordinary student over $100,000 in resources. The innovative program provides students and their families with 10 years of support (through high school graduation), including math coaching, advanced courses, summer experiences in STEM, family advising, community building events, and financial assistance. The program is free for students and families.

“Math fuels innovation. It enables us to tackle the world’s biggest challenges,” said CEO Ilana Walder-Biesanz. “More kids from more communities have the potential to be a part of that progress – but many don’t receive the support they need to develop their mathematical talent. National Math Stars is changing that.”

NMS is designed to eliminate the resource barrier that some extraordinary students experience relative to their wealthier peers. Families in the top 20% of earners spend $8,600 annually on student enrichment activities, while those in the bottom 20% spend $1,700, according to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce‘s report “Born to Win, Schooled to Lose.” NMS fills that investment gap through a decade of support for their Stars.

NMS has led a pilot cohort of students from across the country this school year. Parents resoundingly express hope and relief being part of the Stars community. “Being a part of this has been like a dream come true . . . I’ve had this background noise in my head since [my son] was little and have been so worried about how to make sure I could support him, and I finally feel like we can,” said Erica A. from Colorado.

Eminent figures in the country’s math world are also supporting NMS: “By investing in advanced, underserved students, National Math Stars isn’t just giving them a brighter future. They’re giving all of us a brighter future, as well,” said Richard Rusczyk, founder of the Art of Problem Solving, which has taught the country’s top math students for over 20 years. Dr. Ravi Vakil, a Professor of Mathematics at Stanford University, said, “There are a huge number of brilliant minds out there that, for reasons that surprise no one, do not have the chance to catch fire and change the world. Although no age is too late, by far the best time to catch people is when they are young.”

Carina Initiatives and The Polynera Fund are leading the philanthropic commitment of $16.5 million for National Math Stars’ first three years.

National Math Stars is a nonprofit organization that fully funds a ten-year program to support and inspire Stars’ love of mathematics from as early as third grade through the end of high school. Over the ten years, National Math Stars invests more than $100,000 in support and resources in each Star to create a unique pathway for them to reach the frontiers of math and science.

Carina Initiatives is a foundation focused on strengthening the USA math talent systems by investing in organizations that are working to inspire, unearth, and train exceptional young math students.

The Polynera Fund is a foundation focused on supporting low-income and minority populations to unlock the vast pool of future leaders that will help us solve the immense challenges facing society.