Credit: iStock

Brown puts advanced calculators in the hands of Providence students

The Fund for the Education of the Children of Providence, inspired in part by the report of the University’s Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, will provide Providence Public Schools with 12,000 new graphing calculators to enhance mathematics instruction.
By Deborah Baum  |  May 12, 2009  |  Email to a friend

All secondary students in Providence Public Schools will receive graphing calculators in their mathematics classrooms as part of the first round of grants from the Fund for the Education of the Children of Providence. That fund, inspired in part by the report of the University’s Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, is an initiative to aid local public schools in the form of a $10-million permanent endowment managed by the Corporation of Brown University.

A grant of $118,000 will provide 12,000 graphing calculators to students in sixth- through 12th-grade classrooms in the 2009-10 academic year. Graphing calculators display algebraic, graphical and numerical representations of mathematical functions so that students can understand mathematical concepts better and more quickly.

Three $10,000 grants also will be made to Vartan Gregorian Elementary School, Roger Williams Middle School, and Hope High School to support innovative curricular projects at the classroom level.

“Brown University feels deep pride in playing a significant role as one of the members of the state’s historic academic community to incrementally help to raise the bar for the growth and quality of Providence public education,” says Artemis A.W. Joukowsky, Brown’s chancellor emeritus and one of four members of the Brown Corporation who oversee the fund.

Joukowsky joined President Ruth J. Simmons, Providence Public Schools Superintendent Thomas M. Brady, principals, teachers, and students on May 12 at Vartan Gregorian Elementary School to announce the grants.

“Providence Public Schools will implement a new math and science curriculum this fall,” said Brady. “Brown’s investment in calculators as classroom technology is an important step in equipping our students with the tools to be competitive in math and science.”

“Our hope is that the inaugural grants from the Fund for the Education of the Children of Providence will not only enhance the day-to-day classroom experience for nearly 12,000 middle and high school students, but we hope it encourages principals to apply for future grants and inspires additional philanthropic support for the Fund,” Simmons said.

The Fund for the Education of the Children of Providence was established in 2007 in response to recommendations made by the Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, appointed in 2003 by President Simmons. The steering committee, which included faculty members, students, and administrators, was charged to investigate and to prepare a report about the University’s historical relationship to slavery. The final report, presented in October 2006, concluded that some of the University’s early benefactors were involved in the slave trade and that the University benefited from that involvement.

In February 2007, the Brown Corporation endorsed a set of initiatives in response to the Committee’s report. Addressing the recommendation for Brown to “use the resources of the University to help ensure a quality education for the children of Providence,” the University committed itself to raise a permanent endowment of $10 million as the Fund for Education of the Children of Providence.

Additional actions taken in response to the report include establishing a commission to consider how to acknowledge the University’s and community’s historical relationship to slavery and the Urban Education Fellows program, which provides tuition-free education for graduate students committed to serving in the Providence public schools. The first cohort of Urban Education Fellows will graduate this month. Additionally, the response called for ongoing efforts in the schools, which are overseen and coordinated by a director of education outreach.

The central goal of the fund is to achieve significant, long-term, sustainable impact on the intellectual and social growth of Providence youth. Through strategic deployment of these funds into efforts with tangible outcomes, the Brown Corporation, in augmenting the University’s efforts, seeks to widen the opportunities of youth in the Providence public schools to realize their potential as future thinkers, scientists, health care providers, artists, and civically engaged citizens.

Allocation of funds is determined by the University Corporation with input from the Superintendent of Providence Schools. In addition to Joukowsky, members of the Corporation oversight committee include alumnae Marie Langlois, O. Rogeriee Thompson, and Hanna Rodriguez-Farrar.