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Aspire Hanley, math, classroom, students

Students in a 6th-grade math at the middle school run by Aspire Public Schools.

Caroline Bauman/Chalkbeat

Gates Foundation grant supports peer tutoring in Indianapolis schools

An education technology firm’s effort to encourage student-led tutoring got a boost Wednesday — a $750,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The money, awarded to the Indiana-based Crossroads Education, will fund tutoring spaces called “Learning Commons” in four Indianapolis schools. At those centers, students who want help with their assignments can seek assistance from their schoolmates.

At some schools, Crossroads is training all seventh-graders to tutor classmates or students in lower grades.

“The young people should be empowered to teach each other,” said Kevin Berkopes, the mathematician and former classroom teacher who runs Crossroads. “And they should also understand that to be an educator is part of being a good community member.”

(The Gates Foundation is also a funder of Chalkbeat. Learn more about our funding here.)

Crossroads has already created Learning Commons at several sites in Indiana, including K-12 schools and community colleges. The new grant funds tutoring centers at Matchbook Learning at School 63, which serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade, Paramount School of Excellence Englewood, a planned middle school, and the elementary schools Ignite Achievement Academy at School 42 and Indianapolis Academy of Excellence.

Computer software at the Learning Commons tracks how students use the space, connects students with peers at other schools for tutoring and mentorship, and helps students visualize and play with math equations, Berkopes said.

“Indianapolis students deserve every opportunity to learn and explore,” Mayor Joe Hogsett said in a press release. “This grant will help to uplift our community, providing resources for schools that need it most.”

The impact of the program will be studied by the research firm Mathematica, which will track student progress in math.