MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A north Minneapolis man is using math to encourage Black youth to enroll at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Since graduating from Bethune-Cookman University, Troy Vaughn has used his education to help others, as a police officer and a teacher.

“On my days off as a police officer, I was going in substituting teaching, because I had my teachers license in Minnesota,” Vaughn said.

While inside elementary and middle school classrooms, he noticed a difference between what was happening in suburban and urban schools.

“What they were being taught was two different things, and that’s when I saw that there was a disparity between the two,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn was aware of data released from the Minnesota Department of Education that fewer than 20% of Black students in Minnesota scored as proficient in math — a decline of more than 9% since the start of the pandemic.

So, Vaughn created a math workbook.

“My whole purpose for writing that math workbook was using something that minority students can relate to wanting to do the math,” he said. “Michael Jordan, the Lebron James, the Steph Currys, the Simone Biles, I got a comparison in there comparing the albums sold between Drake and Jay Z,” Vaughn said.

He also wanted to introduce third-graders to Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

But more importantly, he hopes the workbook will be a valuable tool to close the achievement gap between white and Black students.

“I used the Minnesota State Standards based on the Minnesota Assessments, which pretty much is what the achievement gap is based on,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn turned in his badge after completing his master’s and is now teaching full time.

His third-grade math workbook, Bridge Builders, is available on Amazon for just under $10. A fourth-grade addition is coming soon.

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