Zaila Avant-garde made history and inspired millions by winning the 2021 Script National Spelling Bee. She also earned herself a lunch with Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations/Team Development Swin Cash. In the ongoing effort to promote positive educational environments and oppportunities, the New Orleans Pelicans have spelled out how they will be continuing their three-year partnership with Chevron to bring more innovative and interactive STEM experiences to the Gulf South region.
The NBA Math Hoops program is more than a passive partnership, it is an active investment into the community made possible by two of the most well-known corporate brands in the region. Darius Miller, Nicolo Melli, members of the cheer teams, and the Pierre the Pelican mascot have visited local classrooms to help students build the Math Hoops teams. The partnership support given by the Pelicans and Chevron has given Learn Fresh the backing to creating a lasting legacy in the community. The NBA Math Hoops program is run by the non-profit Learn Fresh and has helped over 200 educators from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama engage over 10,000 students solve almost 12 million math problems since the program began.
This is the second year New Orleans will have three students representing the region in the NBA Math Hoops National Championship Tournament. The virtual tournament spans from July 12 through August 13 with 64 participating teams representing over 50 schools. All three New Orleans contestants still vying for the national title are currently in the fourth grade at either KIPP Memorial in New Orleans or St. Benidle in Metairie. Grades 4-6 account for 90% of student participation in the program.
“Through this partnership, we have been able foster and develop an environment that promotes sportsmanship and camaraderie while engaging students academically,” said Pelicans President Dennis Lauscha. “We are looking forward to continuing this program through our partnership with Chevron and we are excited to watch our three Louisiana natives perform at the highest level.”
Playing the game Math Hoops game is a mix of math and basketball decisions. Players attempt to solve four math operations then sort through player cards to determine the best available shot. Teams alternate shots, with steals, fouls, and turnovers a possible depending on each team’s anwsers. After two intense 10 minute halves, the team with the most points wins. The winners of the city competition then face off in a regional tournament against students from the Houston Rockets region.
Learn Fresh’s mission is to encourage constant education through a strong community, health competiton, sportsmanship, and rigorous exploration. The aim is to leverage students’ passion for sports and entertainment to inspire their STEM and social-emotional learning. Through the NBA Math Hoops program, Learn Fresh seeks to reach students who have historically been underrepresented in STEM fields, specifically girls, students of color, and students from low-income communities.
Learn Fresh has made notable progress in addressing both academic and social-emotional challenges. A 2019 third-party assessment of NBA Math Hoops participants demonstrated 35% gains in math fluency and 18% growth on a NAEP-aligned math assessment. A 2019 social-emotional outcomes study showed that program participants were 30% more likely than a control group to report growth in key attributes like leadership, grit, and resilience.
In 2020, Learn Fresh is expanded the national evaluation to include a series of instruments developed by Harvard University’s PEAR Institute, which measure STEM engagement and social-emotional indicators as self-identified by students. A 2019 implementaton of the research model in Detroit benchmarked NBA Math Hoops above national averages in all categories, as measured on the student assessment, according to documents provided by Learn Fresh. Equally as important, a 2019 social-emotional outcomes study showed that program participants were 30% more likely than a control group to report growth in key attributes like leadership, grit, and resilience. Overall, 71% of participating students demonstrated stronger social gains than those who did not participate.
Developing smart minds and compassionate leaders is a priceless investment. The team value these programs both in terms of community building and uplifting the teachers, students, and parents but also as a fanbase building tool. It seen as a priceless investment that adds up to decades-long dividens.