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Successful social enterprise, JUMP Math, adds up new goals

This article was originally published on July 30, 2015 on the ENP Canada website. It has been cross-posted with permission from Axiom News.

Founded in 2001, JUMP Math is becoming a larger organization that can do more things, and do them better than ever before in the history of the organization. But that doesn’t mean it’s resting on its laurels.

JUMP Math is energized by a mission to encourage an understanding and love of math. It is a charity dependent on donations and grants, as well as revenues generated through sales of learning materials and professional development. The importance of earned revenue in supporting its mission means that JUMP operates as both a charity and a social enterprise.

Scoring a top prize in the 2013 Trico Foundation Social EnterPrize Awards program is only one of the many achievements that JUMP Math has been able to add to its name since its inception. Awards from other organizations such as Ernst & Young, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, and the Telefonica Foundation have also added to its credibility and opened doors.

Today, JUMP Math’s writing staff is not only four times as big as it was four years ago.

“But we are also continuously improving the way we work as individuals and as a team,” CEO Scott McMeekin says.

“That means that we can continue to upgrade what we are already doing, while taking on new grades and geographies. Growing relationships with leading universities in Canada and the USA are also enabling us to improve the quality of our professional development offerings.”

Similarly, JUMP Math is about to embark on the implementation phase of a very significant systems upgrade that will represent a step change in its ability to manage growth in the number of students and teachers reached. “Better
systems, information and analytical tools will enable us to improve the quality of service delivery for our education stakeholders and the quality of reporting provided to our funders,” Scott says.

JUMP Math began as a volunteer tutoring program, but early on it became apparent to the founder and board that it could have a bigger impact by changing its primary focus from tutoring to developing the best possible tools for teachers to use to reach and teach their students in their classrooms. That was a dramatic shift.

More recently, JUMP Math has evolved from an organization exclusively focused on reaching educators and students directly in Canada, to one with a broader geographic focus and a willingness to consider licensing with the right partners in the right circumstances. “We have expanded our geographic focus, by developing K-8 materials designed to reach the over 30 million students in the USA whose schools subscribe to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics,” Scott says. “In doing so, we have grown our writing team and become more schedule-driven, while also raising the bar in terms of quality.”

While JUMP Math has always sought out like-minded partners, it expects this focus to become even more critical to enabling the enterprise to realize its objectives for continuing to grow both scale and efficacy – reaching more students and their teachers, while simultaneously enhancing results achieved for each and every teacher and student reached.

Looking ahead, JUMP Math’s next immediate challenge is to raise new funding to enable it to bring its existing Canadian curriculum materials up to its new state of the art standard as well as expand its Canadian offering to kindergarten and beyond. It also intends to continue to upgrade the scope and quality of its professional development offerings. “The work we have done in the last four years to increase our writing capabilities will pay dividends here,”
Scott says.

In addition, like everyone in the education space, JUMP Math is feeling urgency to digitize its offerings. “A critical
challenge will be to determine how to do so in a manner that creates meaningful improvements for teachers and students, while preserving the classroom-centric, pro-social elements that make the JUMP approach so effective,”
Scott says.

“Our goal in this case is not to make the digitization of JUMP Math a crossroads. We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that human beings – classroom teachers – are the key to closing the gap and raising the bar for all students. Therefore, we will use technology wherever we believe it can make teachers jobs easier and more effective, but will not pursue it for its own sake. We have and will need to continue to develop relationships with experts in this field to help us guide our development in this area.”

“JUMP is seeing greater potential to grow its impact in Canada and the USA than it expects to be able to achieve relying on its traditional sources of income, alone,” he says. “Therefore, it is seeking to attract impact investment to take advantage of these opportunities and further accelerate its growth.”

Continuing to upgrade JUMP Math’s management systems and add core management are also key needs. The goal is to achieve self-sustainability in JUMP Math’s core operations, but the need in the education sector is enormous, so maintaining existing funding relationships and building new ones will remain mission critical. In addition to enabling JUMP to efficiently grow its user base, better systems will also improve its ability to provide timely reporting on how it is using donor funds to deliver meaningful benefits to society, Scott adds.

Another step change will come in marketing. “We must transform from being a small organization, taking a relatively seat of the pants approach, to one with a highly professional ‘market research’ capacity,” Scott says.

In conclusion, “We must resist all temptation to rest on our laurels,” the CEO says. “Strong, intentional research will inform the continuous improvement of our offerings, and enable us to maximize growth and quality.”

To learn more about JUMP Math, click here.

To review the JUMP Math case study conducted as part of its 2013 Social EnterPrize Award, click here.

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