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Tensor-SUMMA Grants: Strengthening Underrepresented Minority Mathematics Achievement

The Tensor Foundation has provided funding for the MAA to award grants for projects designed to encourage the pursuit and enjoyment of mathematics by students who are members of groups historically underrepresented in the field of mathematics. These include students who are African-American, Native American, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander. If your project will be targeted toward another group that you believe would qualify the project, you may wish to consult with us before submitting your proposal. Projects may be designed for middle school students, high school students, or college/university students.

College/university mathematics or science faculty may submit proposals. Mathematical sciences faculty should be integrally involved in the proposed project. If the project includes high school or middle school participants, then collaboration with high school or middle school mathematics faculty, as appropriate, should be included.

Proposed projects may replicate existing successful projects, adapt components of such projects, or create new, innovative projects. Project design should reflect strategies that have been shown to be effective in increasing underrepresented minority achievement.

Essential Features of a Project

Projects should provide enrichment activities which lead to heightened interest in mathematics and deeper appreciation of it. These projects are not intended for remedial help for students who need assistance in order to succeed in their coursework in mathematics. They should encourage students to continue studies of mathematics in high school and college and should better prepare them for those studies. Undergraduate and graduate students may serve as role models and work directly with students under the tutelage of faculty from both the college or university and middle or high school.

Active engagement in doing mathematics is an essential feature. Participants should be made aware of career opportunities in mathematics and mathematically intensive disciplines. Implementation of a mentoring component is encouraged and desirable. Please assure that any mentoring component for youth that is included is consistent with local laws and regulations for implementation of such projects.

Projects should be conducted over a sufficient period of time to engage student participants in learning and applying new and interesting mathematics that they would not encounter in their classes. Projects may be conducted during summer or during the school year, on weekends or after school.

Funds may be used to supplement existing projects in order to increase the number of minority students participating in those projects or may be used to initiate new projects. Participation may not be barred to members of any group, but it must be clear that the project will seek to recruit and serve participants from historically underrepresented groups.

Sample Activities

  • Student group and individual research experiences
  • Math Circles
  • Summer mathematics camp
  • Math clubs
  • Preparation for competitions such as the Putnam Competition for college students, MAA American Mathematics Competitions for middle and high school students, and other regional and national competitions.

Read about our 2019 awarded projects here.

Nature of the Grant

Grants will be awarded up to $6000 and will be made to the institution of the project director for a one-year project. An institution is expected to supply matching funds or in-kind support as an indication of commitment to the project. These grants will not support any institutional indirect costs or provide fringe benefits. To provide maximum flexibility, unexpended funds may be carried forward. Grants may be awarded for a maximum of three years, but grant recipients must reapply each year, should they wish to continue their projects. 

Who May Apply

Applications will be accepted from college and university mathematical sciences faculty. They must be working with high school or middle school mathematics faculty if the project targets those students. The application period for the 2020 award cycle is now closed.

Characteristics of Effective Projects

While projects will have a high degree of variability, there are effective projects targeting underrepresented minorities which share some characteristics:

  • Clearly articulated and measurable project objectives;
  • Strong academic component, with a focus on enrichment;
  • Highly competent, committed, and stable project team;
  • Plans for successfully recruiting and retaining underrepresented minority participants;
  • Provision of information on careers that use mathematics extensively in a way that will encourage students to pursue the study of mathematics;
  • Use of appropriate role models;
  • Development of a peer support system;
  • An environment of mentoring;
  • Institutional commitment;
  • Programs that last longer than one-day events.
  • A plan for recruitment of participants from under-represented minority backgrounds.

Submission of Proposals

Please submit all proposal materials by the deadline. Proposals received after the deadline will not be considered.  Proposals from the same institution of higher education may be submitted to both the Tensor-SUMMA and Tensor Women and Mathematics programs, but must support different programs and must have different personnel. You will receive notification of the outcome of your proposal by the end of March.

Make sure you have the following documents ready as separate PDF files as you will be asked to upload them in appropriate sections of your application:

  • CVs of Project Director and any Co-Directors* (2 page limit per CV);
  • Project Description* as specified below;
  • Budget Justification*;
  • Letter(s) of Recommendation* from your department chair or other appropriate administrator indicating institutional support of the project and other relevant documents.
  • If a renewal, state the year or years that funding was previously granted and upload a two-page (maximum) summary of progress to date, including number of participants, successes, and a budget summary of money expended to date;
  • Other relevant documents


Find answers to some of our most commonly asked questions here.

Project Description

Project Description should not exceed 5 pages. Please use nothing smaller than 12 point font. Address the following guidelines in the order listed:

  • Concept: state the ideas that form a basis for your project design. Include a description of the context/local conditions that make your project appropriate. Why will your strategies work?
  • Goal Statement: What is your overarching goal for the project?
  • Objectives to meet the goal
  • Recruitment: your plan for reaching the target audience
  • Activities: detailed description of the activities of the project, including the mathematics that participants will learn
  • Personnel qualifications: provide the name, position, and qualifications of the project director and principal members of the team and their role in the project
  • Timeline: timeline for the activities before, during and, if relevant, after the funding year
  • Commitment: In what way is your institution a welcoming host and what resources can the institution provide? What is the long-term commitment of the host institution to the goals of the project and its specific activities?
  • Evaluation: How will you evaluate the success of the project relative to the objectives?  What data, qualitative or quantitative, will you provide, including information on project expenditures, as part of a brief final report to be submitted at the end of the funding year?
  • Sustainability: What is the likelihood of institutionalizing through local or state or institutional funding after the start-up funding provided by the Tensor Foundation?

Budget Justification

The proposal's budget justification should include a clear explanation of the cost of each item and why it is necessary for the project's activities. The justification should also include information on additional financial and in-kind support you may have for this project. Proposals that focus spending on project participants are found more favorable. Appropriate spending categories are:

  • Senior project personnel
  • Other personnel
  • Travel
  • Student stipends
  • Student support expenses
  • Supplies
  • Other direct costs

Please note: Tensor Foundation grants do not support fringe benefits. 

Review of Proposals

Proposals will be reviewed by a panel which will include members of the MAA Committee on Minority Participation in Mathematics, other MAA members, and a trustee of the Tensor Foundation acting as an advisor.

Contact Information

For further information regarding proposed projects, please contact the MAA Tensor-SUMMA Program Director Rosalie Dance by email [email protected].

For consultation on your ideas and the scope for projects, proposers are encouraged to contact the MAA Tensor Program Outreach Director Florence Fasanelli by email [email protected].