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John Deere Foundation’s Impact on MIND’s Mission and Student Math Achievement

We have many reasons to be grateful for our philanthropic partners at MIND. From their devotion to capacity building and cultivating innovation through education to having a tremendous social impact on local and global communities, our partners care deeply about the future of our youth.

As a social impact nonprofit organization, MIND Research Institute works with corporate, foundation, and individual partners to bring ST Math to schools and districts across the nation. Funding from the John Deere Foundation has been instrumental in expanding ST Math access to many students and their teachers, particularly those underserved and underrepresented.

Mathematically equipping all students to solve the world’s most challenging problems is no small feat. For this reason, MIND is proud to have partnered with John Deere since 2014 to reach more than 37,000 students in over 90 schools, ensuring the next generation of the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math (STEAM) workforce continues to carry the innovation and leadership torch.

The Future is STEM/STEAM

We celebrated National STEM/STEAM Day just a few weeks ago, a reminder of how important it is to foster our students’ curiosity around math and science endeavors. 

STEM/STEAM is everywhere you can imagine and is an indispensable part of our everyday lives. When we encourage students to explore their interests in math, we ensure that they are equipped to meet the demands of the future workforce, thus guaranteeing a more prosperous and brighter future for the next generation.

Waterloo Community School District 

Can a game change how students feel about math? That was certainly the case in Waterloo, Iowa. The 2021-2022 school year saw a successful launch of John Deere-funded ST Math programming in the Waterloo Community School District. All eleven of the elementary schools are using the program.

More recently, in September 2022, more than 750 families participated in Waterloo Math Week. Math Week is an event that encourages students and their families to engage in math, different cultural traditions, and creative problem-solving through MathMINDs—taking storytelling and mathematics out of the classroom and into the community. Waterloo families completed over 600,000 math minutes during this event alone!

ST Math’s Impact on Waterloo Students

Due to school closures and the pandemic’s overall impact, student math achievement has reached an all-time low. The recent NAEP Mathematics Assessment—the Nation’s Report Card—reveals dramatically low math scores and highlights the need to accelerate student learning to get students back on grade level. 

Thanks to the John Deere Foundation's funding of ST Math in Waterloo, students showed significant growth in math proficiency outcomes.  As the seventh largest school district in the state, Waterloo Community School District reported significant growth in grade-level math ability. The district is seeing positive correlations between results on ST Math and their post assessments. In addition, their 3rd - 5th grade students experienced an increase of almost 7% on the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP). The math achievement gap between black and white students also decreased by about 7% between the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years. 

Equitable access to the power of education is at the core of sustainable development. By making mathematics accessible, and of course enjoyable, ST Math increases the likelihood of long-term academic and professional success for youth who face enormous barriers to their education. The results achieved by students and educators in Waterloo stand as powerful proof of ST Math's impact.

           - Pat Barnes, John Deere's Global Social Responsibility Lead for Education and Equity

Faculty and students at Waterloo schools love ST Math, and it’s clear how that engagement has translated into an improved relationship with mathematics and math culture.

ST Math has changed our district's math culture. Students are no longer worried about making mistakes, they now embrace the productive struggle and understand it's part of the learning process. ST Math has been a game changer for our kids. We are extremely appreciative of John Deere's generosity and support during our ST Math journey.

                             - Ryan Christopher, Elementary Curriculum Coordinator, Waterloo Schools 

John Deere Inspire

To engage the next generation of innovators and problem solvers through STEM/STEAM education, John Deere Inspire was established ten years ago as a global youth education program. Over many years of serving underserved and underrepresented youth, John Deere has played a vital role in supporting and encouraging students to become STEM/STEAM leaders.

The John Deere investment in students aligns closely with MIND’s mission to mathematically equip all students to solve the world’s most challenging problems. Together, we are developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills, so our young people have the tools they need to reach their potential and improve lives worldwide.

The recent John Deere Inspire Conference reminded us of their extensive philanthropic efforts and is a true inspiration for our youth and the future STEM/STEAM workforce.  

This year’s John Deere Inspire Conference was among the first in-person events since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Inspire coordinators—employees who volunteer for their many outreach programs—were there to lead presentations with inspirational guest speakers to discuss ways of encouraging our youth and building capacity in STEM/STEAM. The conference was an excellent opportunity for the John Deere Inspire team and their partners to finally meet in person and learn more about the many different causes John Deere supports.

MIND colleagues had a wonderful time touring Cinnamon Ridge Farms, a robotic dairy farm that uses John Deere equipment: a great opportunity to see John Deere in action.

In addition, conference attendees were able to see ST Math in action at Ridgewood Elementary in East Moline, another John Deere funded school. MIND also conducted an ST Math panel to discuss the visual-instructional game-based learning program's positive impacts on students across the country and, more recently, in Waterloo, Iowa. The shift in math achievement has been profound, and we anticipate continued growth as students continue to engage in grade-level math content. 

Whether celebrating with current colleagues or sharing our work with new partners, we're excited to continue collaborating to cultivate a growth mindset for students across the country.

This holiday season, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to our partners at John Deere, who help us prepare students of all backgrounds for academic and future career success. Their support makes a measurable, sustainable, and scalable impact in the many communities they serve and will continue to serve.

Victor Nguyen

About the Author

Victor Nguyen is MIND’s Content and Community Specialist. Victor is a passionate storyteller with a penchant for creative writing. In his free time, you can find him engrossed in books, going on long hikes, or trying to meditate.


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