This entry has been selected as a finalist in the
Ben & Jerry's: Join Our Core & Scoop For Change competition.
Mattecentrum tutors around 70.000 young people in math every month – for free. This is done in two ways:
IRL during tutoring sessions 50 times a week in 19 cities in Sweden and Denmark using 300 voluntary workers.Online on matteboken.se (in Swedish) and mathplanet.com (in English) one gets tutoring via video lessons (several million views), forums, theory, etc.
Since the organization started in 2008 over half a million kids have studied math with us.
The knowledge in math among kids in Sweden is decreasing and this is harmful to society in several ways:
- A lot of injustices are created. Your education should not depend on which family you are born in.
- In order to participate in a democracy some knowledge in math is essential.
- A lot of youngsters believe that they are useless and stupid since they fail at math (this is NOT true!!!).
- Companies in Sweden have to shut down because they lack new young coworkers who know math – meanwhile we have a historically high youth unemployment rate.
We are creating social change by helping those who cannot afford to buy private tutoring, we help those whose parents can’t help them and we help them who have no one else to turn to after school. 35% of our kids have immigrant background – a lot of people see us as one of few successful integration projects, maybe because we do not try we just treat everybody with respect.
With your vote Mattecentrum is able to help more kids, start up in more cities and countries,
spreading knowledge and giving democracy a helping hand meanwhile we even out injustices’ that are created the day we are born.
Kids can count on/with us – can we count on your vote?
The competition is only open to people between 18-34 years-old and resident in UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands. Does this apply to you
Country of residence of entrepreneur
Tell us about your personal background. Why are you passionate about this issue? Making an idea a reality takes innovation, dedication and strong leadership. Do you have the necessary entrepreneurial skills to realize your vision?
I grew up with a mum and dad that both are teachers, obviously I got a lot of help and attention as a kid during my upbringing. After senior high school I moved to a larger university city and during my studies there, I helped kids in the neighborhood to do their homework in mathematics – all for free. This gave me so much energy and happiness – something that could be hard to understand unless you haven’t tried it yourself.
Education is an essential ingredient in a working democracy and it should be for free, giving everybody equal opportunities to succeed in life.
I would say that I have the entrepreneurial skills since I this far has succeeded in building up an organization that at this point has 50.000 youngsters studying with us without paying for it. Also I was selected the social entrepreneur of the year in Sweden 2011.
About Your Organization
Sweden, ST, Stockholm
Country where this project is creating social impact
Sweden, XX, All of Sweden
Is your organization a
Non‐profit/NGO/citizen sector organization
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The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
Several international studies (TIMSS, PISA, TIMSS advanced) have repeatedly the last 10-15 years shown that the math results of Swedish children and teens have decreased both in comparison to other countries and compared to results from previous years. The studies have shown that the number of students that lack fundamental knowledge in math has increased as well as the number of students on the most advanced level has decreased. This is change is most significant among boys. In addition the studies have shown that the equality in the Swedish school system has decreased and that there is a large difference between schools, classes and teachers.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
Johan Wendt founded Mattecentrum as a solution to this problem. If we offer free help in math to everyone that wants or needs the help and give it in an inspiring and fun way we will both increase the knowledge and the interest in math among Swedish youth.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
Mattecentrum offer free help in math for all children that need or wants our help in two ways.
39 times a week in 14 cities in Sweden we arrange free tutoring sessions to everyone that wants or needs our help. All students, irrespective of school, gender, age, origin or knowledge are welcome. To help them with their problems we have 220 volunteers that spends one night of their week to increase the student’s knowledge of math. The volunteers are all people with great knowledge of math and most of them have a Master of Science. The students that visit these sessions have all kinds of background and knowledge level, but all have in common that they want to increase their chances in life. We have students that come four times a week in three years’ time and you can see the change in them over time. By learning little by little by people that are not teachers, but that have an understanding of math and work with math every day the students both increase their knowledge but also increase their confidence in themselves. They experience a whole new world and realize that they can do everything they want and solve problems they never thought they could. We have students that have initially come to us saying that they hate math and which their course will finish and then after completing the course chooses to continue studying math because they have realized it can be fun. 2.200 students regularly visit our study sessions.
Every May we arrange Sweden’s largest math lesson in the middle of Stockholm the day before the national tests. We gather 300 students and 70 teachers and practice for 3 hours. As always the education is free but we also manage to provide all the students and teachers with free lunch and energy drinks. Similar events also take place in Gothenburg and Västerås.
To reach all of those that for some reason can’t come to any of our study sessions we developed the online study tool www.matteboken.se which is a math book online which covers all math that is taught between the ages of 12-19 in Sweden. The site includes theory, examples, forums and 400 video lessons that have been seen over 1.5 million times. Over 50.000 students study with Mattboken.se every month which is approximately 17% of the target group. On Matteboken.se you can also find what we call celebrity math where a lot of Swedish celebrities and government officials shows the solution to a specific math problem.
To be able to help even more children we created www.mathplanet.com which is an English version of matteboken.se and based on the American high school-courses. The site have had visitors from all over the world.
Last year we started our first tutoring session on international ground in Copenhagen, Denmark. Today we offer 4 tutoring sessions every week to Danish youth.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
There is no other organization that offers the same kind of help as we do today in Sweden. There are a couple of companies that give tutoring sessions for money and there are a couple of local initiatives that offer free help in math, but no other national organizations.
Select the stage that best applies to your business
Operating for 1-5 years
This Entry is about (Issues)
What is the social impact you have had to date and how you measure it?
In the four years that Mattecentrum have existed we have helped thousands of children in Sweden to increase their math knowledge. Over half a million of people have studied with us online (can be measured by Google analytics). Last year we collected written statements from students that had studied with us during the whole upper secondary school where they give witness to the change that our activities have made in their life. Every year we let the students in our study sessions take part of an evaluation where they grade both their own progress and our activities. On a scale from 1-4 we last year got an average of 3,78 on the statement “It has helped me to attend Mattecentrum’s study sessions”.
What barriers might hinder the success of your business? How do you plan to overcome them?
Our organization is in the larger parts based on volunteers offering their services. One barrier that could hinder our work is if we did not find qualified people willing to help out. To overcome this barrier we continuously work to make sure that the volunteers feel useful and that this is a meaningful activity for them to take part of and for them to feel that they are appreciated and needed by both the organization and the students.
How does your model address financial, social, and environmental sustainability?
Mattecentrum is a youth organization and as such we get funding from The Swedish National Board for Youth Affairs annually based on the number of members in the organization. This funding is given each year as long as the organization exists.
The organization has an increasing impact in our society. We have since the start continued to grow and every time we expand to a new city we are keen to make sure that the local organization is viable and sustainable. We only choose cities that have a large enough population to be sure that there is always a supply of students and volonteers to make sure that the study sessions will continue over a long period of time.
By giving the youth of Sweden a meaningful after school activity where they can increase their knowledge and meet other children from different parts of the city we help make this society better. By having well educated people that offers to help out for free as volonteers the students not only get help to increase their math knowledge they also get in contact with people that are willing to do something where there is no financial gain. These encounters help to provide a better social environment in our society.
Awareness & learning
How do you see social entrepreneurship contributing to the improvement of developing countries?
I don’t only see it as something contributing to the improvement in developing countries; I see it as a something that could take the lead in the change making process. The success with social entrepreneurship is not measured in hard cash but rather in the social impact.
What aspects of your stay in Uganda as part of the competition do you think you will find most challenging and rewarding?
I have several times traveled in third world countries, the first time it was a big shock but still my living conditions were westerns. This time as I understand it I will be living with the local people on their conditions. This will probably be challenging but hopefully also very rewarding in the sense of gaining insight in the circumstances of how people in Uganda actually live.
Still – the most rewarding will probably be working with the local people in their strive to work with their projects and applying my entrepreneurial skills on their problems.