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Making A Difference

Motivating Middle-Schoolers to Get up to Speed with Math

Bill Daugherty (MBA 1991)

Veteran entrepreneur and public education innovator Bill Daugherty (MBA 1991) is on a mission to get kids excited about math.

In addition to his profit-sector job as executive chairman of ANC Sports Enterprises, Daugherty has been the driving force behind NBA Math Hoops, a nonprofit launched in 2010 that leverages the popularity of NBA basketball to help middle school students master the fundamentals of math.

“STEM skills are driving innovation across all sectors today,” Daugherty notes, “but 67 percent of eighth graders nationwide and 82 percent of students from low-income families lack grade-level math proficiency.” As a longtime school volunteer with at-risk students and founder of an innovative high school entrepreneurship curriculum in Rhode Island, Daugherty was struck by how often “smart, resourceful students can’t multiply 3 x 20.”

Developed in partnership with Hasbro, NBA Cares, and Big Picture Learning, Math Hoops is a fast-paced board game that challenges student teams to solve math problem on a 24-second clock. Now in use in schools across the country and tied to Common Core state standards, the game is supported by NBA and WNBA teams, which provide prizes and other incentives. “Our goal,” notes Daugherty, “is to make sixth-grade math teachers the coolest people in the building.”

(Published May 2016)