June 26, 2023

Warriors in the Community, episode 11: Math Corps

WWJ Newsradio 950

Warriors in the Community is a radio segment that features short, insightful interviews with key figures from Wayne State University about the many ways in which the university and its programs make a positive impact on the metro area and on the lives of Detroiters.

In our 11th episode, we feature WSU math professor Steve Kahn, cofounder of the WSU Math Corps program. Established in 1991, Math Corps is a combined academic and mentoring program for Detroit public school students in grades 6-12. It features a summer camp, year-round Saturday programs and enrichment courses for elementary school children. The program has posted dramatic results. For instance, since 1995, best estimates place the high school graduation rate for Math Corps students at about 90%, with about 90% of those students going on to college (80%) or the military (10%). Math Corps has garnered widespread acclaim and received national recognition for its results.


Intro: This is “Warriors in the Community” brought to you by Wayne State University, and now to learn about how Wayne State is positively impacting our community, here is Darrell Dawsey.

Darrell Dawsey: Today I'm with Steve Kahn, director of the Center for Excellence in Equity in Mathematics at Wayne State University, and co-founder of the acclaimed Academic Mentoring Program, Math Corps.

When and why did you start Math Corps?

Steve Kahn: So, I went to the Urban League to volunteer my time to work with kids, and we ran a middle school math program for a few years on Saturdays. But the question that arose is that really what we want to do or do we want to make a greater difference and to make a greater difference in the lives of your kids, you better stay in their lives.

Steve Kahn
WSU math professor Steve Kahn, cofounder of the WSU Math Corps program.

So we asked our middle school kids to stay when they entered high school and turn around and help us teach a new group of little kids, which they did. And that became the Math Corps, a summer program and Saturday program. So the Math Corps today is not a math program that teaches kids. It's a kids program that teaches math.

Darrell Dawsey: Tell us a little bit about how it has grown and evolved.

Steve Kahn: Yeah, so it, it went from a, a program that just wanted to be with kids and do what we could to what is now a nationally recognized program.

Darrell Dawsey: Why do you think Math Core is so successful? 

Steve Kahn: Well, when you base a program on the kids themselves and you realize how powerful and beautiful they are, and in fact you build your program around kids, teaching kids every decision we make, every policy we create begins with the question, well, if we really love our kids, then what? What does your homework policy look like? What does your dress code look like and things that you want for the future? Okay, high ACT scores, college enrollment? The results are dramatic. 

Darrell Dawsey: Thank you so much for the work that you do, and thanks so much for joining.

Steve Kahn: Thanks for having me.

Extro: This has been “Warriors in the Community.” For more Wayne State News, please visit us online at today.wayne.edu/wwj and join us here next Monday at the same time for more warriors in the community.

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