Explore our booklet on running Math Circles for underserved youth: view here, or click for a printable version.
Many mathematicians who are already familiar with Math Circles seek to bring their experience and enthusiasm for mathematics and deep, critical thinking to students who would not generally have access to these opportunities. Here are some observations about and suggestions for running Math Circle groups for underserved students.
All Math Circles seek to…

 Engage students in fun mathematical activities;

 Educate students in problemsolving skills;

 Expose students to novel mathematics that they may not otherwise see unless they decide to major in math in college;
 Enrich students through collaborative experiences;
 Encourage students to see themselves as “doers of math.”
It is important to facilitate attendance and continued participation by making the program physically, economically and culturally accessible.
— Emily McCullough, San Francisco Math Circle
Meeting Structure

 Divide children into small groups (45)

 Assign one volunteer per group

 Run meetings on a college campus (increases cool factor and draws more volunteers)

 Consider arranging bus transportation for students to lift the burden from families
 Consider meeting at schools or community centers
Curriculum Design

 Ensure the math is accessible (use pictures, story settings, lots of scaffolding)

 Use clear instructions (especially for students who use English as their second language)

 Give opportunities to explore new mathematical ideas

 Give opportunities to practice basic math skills and mental math

 Incorporate handson activities and manipulatives
 Involve families by sending activities home or hosting family days
Challenges
 Student transportation
 Neighborhoods with very limited resources
 Time for families and students to devote to extracurricular activities
Models That Have Worked

 Find a teacher who deeply cares, has a high status among student community and is willing to commit time and energy
 Write a letter for parents in English and any other appropriate languages that teachers can pass out in class and students can take home
 Students’ Circles: recruit teachers to recruit & help arrange transportation for students
 Free programs
 Tuitionbased programs with sliding scale
 Offsite programs (at universities for example)
 Onsite programs can be
 exclusive to the school, or
 open to the public
 Most importantly, willingness to adapt to the needs of the communities you seek to serve
Further Resources
 MCMAP webinar: Experiences Working with Underserved Youth
 Activities for Mathematical Outreach Events
 Read our Math Circle Profile: Math CEO (Community Educational Outreach) through UCIrvine
The National Association of Math Circles is grateful to The Clowes Fund for its support of this project.