Math Literacy Workers (MLWs)

...are young people (high school and college students) who teach math-based activities to younger children in their neighborhoods and communities. Through an ongoing cycle of learning, practice, teaching, and reflecting to evaluate the effectiveness of their work, YPP MLWs learn the math concepts they need well enough to teach them to others and develop the social and professional competencies they need to facilitate the learning experience for younger peers and to work collaboratively while doing so.

MLWs primarily work after school. This element of paid work is important – studies show that working a moderate number of hours (15 to 29 per week) as a sophomore in high school can be particularly beneficial for employment and earnings even 10 years after finishing high school.


“The idea of math is always rough, kids come with the attitude like ‘math, are you serious, I could be playing basketball’. I love that they see a part of me when I am trying to teach them. It does something to my soul, that I can teach them and have them learn something for me. I worked with one student who did not know how to multiply, so that’s an example of the kind of flexibility I had to learn, to push along, to help him. After three weeks he said he could do it without any help. He ran up to me with the paper, and said ‘check it check it check it’; he had it all right, and said ‘can I take it home’. That was the joy of my life. I love that, that I can help other people, especially younger kids, and have bonds with them.”

- Hope Pena, 12th grade, YPP MLW


Who We Are

  1. We represent a range of students, from high achievers to those struggling academically, and are generally from the neighborhoods where we work
  2. We are positive catalysts and influencers in our peer groups
  3. We develop agency and are trained in the core competencies of teamwork and cooperation, leadership, relationship building, and conceptual and analytical thinking
  4. We represent a scalable, bottom-up approach to youth development and education reform in this country


What We Do

  1. We teach math and other STEM subjects to 250 3rd-8th graders each year, within after-school programs using original YPP training materials, programs, and curriculum
  2. We run workshops for younger students that are organized around math-based games and collective experiences, and that emphasize individual reflection, small group work, teamwork and discussion
  3. We develop daily math challenges and hold “office hours” to assist with math schoolwork
  4. We help support our families financially with the money earned from our work as MLWs


The Impact of Our Work

  1. We improve academic outcomes for elementary school students
  2. We determine and pursue our own paths to success that include college graduation
  3. We remove institutional and systemic barriers to our own individual success and the collective success of our peers