Math4Flint aims to increase numeracy skills in Genesee County students

FLINT, Michigan — You may have heard the phrase “it’s a number’s game.” Well, local residents Dan Neaton and Ed Kulka know a thing or two about numbers. Combined, they have 70+ years of teaching math.

In 2018, the duo started developing the Number DNA™ skill-building math software. Today, as the co-founder/CEO of Neaton Mathematics LLC, Neaton has expanded his community reach as the Founder/Director of the Math4Flint Initiative. 

“Right from the start, educators and businesspeople in Flint have encouraged and supported our efforts to develop a game-changing math intervention that improves numeracy skills for Genesee Co. residents and their school-aged children,” Neaton says.  

The Math4Flint initiative was officially launched in 2021, following a six-week summer program conducted by the Social Impact Philanthropy and Investing. Neaton says the organization’s ideas to start a numeracy initiative were met with excitement and enthusiasm.

The initiative is supported by The Flint & Genesee Group, Youth Quest, 100K Ideas, the Flint Development Center, SIPI, the GearUp2Lead Academy, teachers at Holmes STEM MSA, and Beecher High School.

“Our mission is to provide programs for the residents of Flint and Genesee County that improve the numeracy skills needed for success in algebra, trigonometry, trade schools, and college,” Neaton says. 

The organization has held pilot programs with local high schools, and Washtenaw County Community College. Neaton explains how the partnerships work and what the user experience looks like.

A Math4Flint class is in session at the Flint Development Center located at 4121 Martin Luther King Avenue in Flint, MI. “First, I connect with groups that have a strong interest in improving math skills for their students,” he says. “We arrange training sessions for their staff, familiarizing them with the Number DNA software that we have sold to them. Next, students are enrolled and assigned unique logins. The program currently includes addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of positive and negative numbers, fractions decimals, and percent. Students log in and complete short workouts/practices until they demonstrate mastery of that topic then move onto the next topic.”

Neaton attributes the software’s success to the fact that the workouts are short. Quick feedback is given, and the next steps are immediate – walking students through to the different levels. Students can access the software and their personalized progress page wherever the internet is available. 

“We have no employees. Community centers and schools include Number DNA to the classes that their staff already supervise,” Neaton says. “Students work independently while staff helps them focus on their work. After 20 minutes of practicing, students move on to other lessons or activities”

Neaton is proud to offer this additional support material to schools and organizations, although he does not consider it a curriculum. “It is designed to support teachers that are teaching new ideas in classes where students struggle due to being behind,” he says.

By providing math skills help and additional STEM activities, Neaton believes social equity through better education paves the way for better jobs and income opportunities. “Better educated communities attract investments that generate better jobs,” he says. 

Given the newness of the programs, community feedback is important in order to best serve the needs of students and educators utilizing the Math4Flint resources. 

“Parents, teachers, and members of the business community have all provided Ed and me with ideas to improve the Number DNA™ program, many of which have already been programmed into the software,” Neaton says. 

Ideally, Neaton would love to see the Math4Flint initiative grow and evolve into a countywide numeracy program. Pending funding, they plan to expand their work at four local community center’s after-school programs.

For more information about Math4Flint, visit: math4flint.com

Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.