Crowdfunding for STEM Outreach

Cougars and Houston Area Math Program (CHAMP)

We are fundraising for CHAMP, an outreach program that provides math lessons to high school students in inner-city Houston.

CHAMP website

Please consider donating! Any amount, no matter how small, makes a difference.

Letter from the Director

CHAMP is an outreach program that brings high school students from underserved communities into direct contact with professors and students on the University of Houston campus for hands-on, weekly math lessons and activities.

The neighborhoods that we serve, which include the Third Ward and East End of Houston, suffer from poverty, unemployment, and high levels of violent crime. (The Third Ward, for example, has a violent crime rate higher than any neighborhood in New York or L.A., and only Detroit has the dubious distinction of having neighborhoods that are more dangerous.) The high schools in these areas are often underfunded and understaffed, and many have dropout rates in excess of 50%. Needless to say, students in these schools are at a severe disadvantage. CHAMP is an effort to improve the education of these students and provide them with more opportunities.

CHAMP is not tutoring or remedial math. Instead, the lessons are designed to generate excitement and expose students to topics they often do not see in the classroom. Our mission is to encourage the students to graduate from high school, go to college, and consider majoring in a STEM discipline (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). CHAMP puts the high school students into direct contact with professors, graduate students, and undergraduates, all whom can serve as teachers and mentors for the students. We also encourage the math teachers from the high schools to participate in the lessons. Of the students participating in CHAMP, all are minority (either African-American or Hispanic) and approximately half are female.

In the 2013-2014 school year CHAMP was run on an entirely voluntary basis with no funding, and we served approximately 25 high school students. We would like to expand to serve more students, but we are at the limits of what we can do with volunteer effort alone. In order to reach out to more students, we need funding. That is where you come in! Please consider making a donation to help us provide math and science education to more of these students. You can make a difference in the lives of these students!


Dr. Mark Tomforde
Director of CHAMP and
Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University of Houston

Where Can I Learn More about CHAMP?

The CHAMP website contains a great deal of information about CHAMP, including details on the participants, goals, lessons, and the high schools served.

CHAMP website

I especially encourage you to look at the "Schedule Page", and click on the various weeks. There you can view pictures and see the CHAMP lessons in action. I think this gives an excellent sense of what we are doing.

Weekly Schedule (with Photos)

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why is this kind of outreach important?

  • Or country has deficit of qualified STEM workers, and it is in our national interest to produce more for the future.
  • Women and minorities are severely underrepresented in STEM fields. Programs such as CHAMP can help to get more women and minorities to go to college and major in STEM disciplines.
  • From a practical perspective, every student that we prevent from dropping out of high school, or help to attend college, or encourage to consider a STEM field, is one more person who will get a decent job and contribute to society rather than requiring government assistance in the future. Investing in these students is an investment in the nation's future.
  • In addition to the practical aspect, outreach can make a significant difference in the lives of the students. It provides opportunities to children who have been underserved by our society, and it helps the students to realize their potential, find fulfilling jobs, and lead happier lives.

Why Math? If you're interested in STEM why not teach other subjects as well?

  • Mathematics is the foundation of all STEM subjects. A strong mathematics background is a prerequisite for science, engineering, and technology courses in college. When students fail out of STEM classes in college, it is often their math classes -- not their science or engineering classes -- that are causing them problems. A solid foundation in math is an important starting point for STEM education.
  • Texas requires students to pass standardized tests to graduate from high school. For most of our students it is the math portion of the exam that they have the most trouble with, and poor math skills are often the largest obstacle to high school graduation. Therefore math education is a pressing need of our students.
  • College entrance exams, such as the SAT or ACT, usually test English and Math. Students' scores on the math portions greatly affect their chances of getting into college or receiving scholarships.
  • Math can be taught in a low cost way, and does not require expensive equipment or resources. Not only is this useful for our budget, but it also means that when we invite high school math teachers to visit CHAMP, they can copy our methods and replicate what we do in their classrooms.
  • Although we teach math lessons, we incorporate science and technology when we can. For instance, we have had math lessons on how to calculate the size of the earth and its distance from the sun and moon, which involved teaching the students about our solar system and the heliocentric model. We have also had lessons on how networks and graphs can be used by GPS to determine shortest routes when traveling.

Can you tell me more about the communities and high schools you serve?

This page gives a detailed description.

How has CHAMP been successful?

  • Almost all CHAMP students have graduated from high school, and a significant number have chosen to go to college afterward. One of the schools we work with, Hope Academy, has in the past year seen a huge increase in the percentage of their graduates who go on to college. The superintendent told me he attributes the change to CHAMP, and said that even the students who do not participate in CHAMP have been influenced by those students that do.
  • Grades of CHAMP students in their high school courses have improved.
  • There have been incidents where students have stopped coming to CHAMP, and we discovered from their high school that they dropped out. We visit these students at their homes, and in one case were able to convince a student to re-enroll in high school.
  • Here are some quotes from CHAMP students:
    "After CHAMP, I looked at my high school math classes di erently. I would try to understand why the process they gave us worked, and I would also see if I could find different ways to solve the problem than the one teacher described. . . . When I graduate from high school I want to go to college and study Astronomy." --Gaby Bravo, 11th-grade CHAMP student, Stephen F. Austin High School

    "The only thing I would change about CHAMP is to have it meet more than once per week." --Milton Hubbard, 11th-grade CHAMP student, Hope Academy

    "CHAMP made me realize that attending the University of Houston is a realistic option for me." -- Eliza McQueen, 12th-grade CHAMP student, Hope Academy

Are any of your questions not answered?

Contact Dr. Mark Tomforde and ask anything you would like.

How is the Money Used?

All money donated goes directly to CHAMP and our efforts to help the students. There are no fees, indirect costs, overhead, etc. taken by the University of Houston. Every penny you donate goes directly to helping the students.

We use the money in various ways, depending on the amount we receive. Here are just a few things the money is used for:

  • Purchase food for the lessons. Many of the students do not receive adequate meals in the public schools they attend, and last year several came to the CHAMP lessons hungry. We would like to provide nutritious food for them at the lessons, both to help them focus and make sure they are well fed.
  • Provide CHAMP T-shirts for participants. This will help create a sense of pride and belonging among those in the program, as well as help us advertise our efforts.
  • Hold an end-of-the-year banquet/barbecue for high school students and their parents. This helps to reward the students for their hard work, and allows us to interact more with parents and spread our message of encouraging STEM participation throughout the local communities
  • Hire a part-time administrator to assist with organizational aspects of the program, including coordinating with the local high schools.
  • Provide transportation to bring students to and from the UH campus