Expanding Math Support to Charleston Students

As of the most recent South Carolina College-and-Career-Ready Assessments in 2019, just 52% of students in the Charleston region meet or exceed grade level expectations in grades 3-5 math. By 8th grade, that number falls to 40%, leaving the majority of Tri-county students unprepared for high school coursework and postsecondary and career options. The onset of COVID-19 exacerbates the need: the SC Education Oversight Committee estimates that 7 in 10 South Carolina students in grades 3-8 are not projected to meet reading and math grade level standards in spring 2021, with math learning more severely impacted by COVID-19 school interruptions than literacy (January 2021 SC EOC Report).

Research shows that concrete, targeted experiences with numbers in the early years can close conceptual gaps and prepare students for algebra, a graduation requirement (Kathy Richardson, Thomas Carpenter). Tutoring has been found to deliver significant gains in rigorous, recent studies (Pellegrini  M. 2018, Nickow A. 2020, Guryan J. 2021) and was recommended in the January 2021 report by the SC Education Oversight Committee. Teachers and families have limited capacity to provide one-on-one academic attention, but volunteer tutors can help.

Heart Math Tutoring gives young students successful experiences in math through one-on-one tutoring during the school day delivered by supervised volunteers. In each school, 50 students in grades 1-5 receive tutoring twice per week for 30 minutes. Heart Math Tutoring’s activity-based, structured curriculum and on-site support from staff during tutoring enables hundreds of volunteers to be effective with a commitment of one hour per week and minimizes day-to-day work for school staff. Over 97% of volunteers rate the experience positive each year, and kids embrace the one-on-one attention, games, encouragement, and progress.

  • To date, 98% of over 3,500 students served have shown growth on pre/post assessments that meets the targets set by elementary math specialists at UNC-Charlotte and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
  • Comparison studies find that Heart students grow faster than non-Heart students in math on North Carolina End-of-Grade Tests and often retain gains into the subsequent year (see HMT Annual Report 2020, page 10).
  • Over 90% of teachers report that student confidence and/or enthusiasm towards academics increases because of Heart Math Tutoring.

A 501c3 nonprofit, Heart Math Tutoring grew to support over 20 schools and 1,000+ students and volunteer tutors in Charlotte, NC. A Charleston-based group of nonprofits and philanthropists are working to replicate the model in the Charleston region, where no math support exists yet at scale.

Support the pilot program!

HMT is making plans to support ~30 students at CCSD’s Ladson Elementary from January – May 2022, thanks to financial support from Social Venture Partners, Joanna Foundation, Stuhr Funeral Home, and individual donors. Help is needed:

  • 40 weekly volunteer tutors will be needed starting the week of January 3rd! Sign up to tutor using the form below!
  • Volunteers will be needed for other operational efforts such as volunteer recruitment, curriculum materials assembly, and more. Email if you would like to help with program operations!


Pledge your financial support!

Your support securing $125,000 by 3/1/2022 will launch Heart Math Tutoring for 100 students across two Tri-County Area schools in 2022/23, with opportunity to grow from there. Pledges to give are payable once adequate commitments are received to greenlight the project. Heart Math Tutoring will request payment via invoice at project start date before June 30, 2022. Heart Math Tutoring is a 501c3 nonprofit, and all donations qualify for federal income tax exemption. 

HMT Charleston Supporters at 11/23/2021 include: Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina, John and Lynn Cooper, Martha and Eric Eubank, J. Henry Stuhr Funeral Homes, The Joanna Foundation, Pamela Levy, Scott and Donna Olsen, John and Alexandra Read, Social Venture Partners – Charleston.

To make a pledge, enter your information into the form below.

Charleston Pledge Form

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Volunteer tutors commit 1 hour per week and are paired with an elementary student who needs encouragement and hands-on activities covering foundational math skills (counting, addition, subtraction, etc.). Volunteers receive training, a volunteer-friendly curriculum, and assistance from an on-site HMT Program Coordinator who supports student growth and day-to-day logistics. No prior math or tutoring experience is required. Read more on the flyer here and don’t forget to sign up below!

We are also hosting a 20-minute information session on Thursday, December 2nd from 12 – 12:45PM where tutors can learn more and ask questions. Register for the information session here.

Volunteer Sign Up Form (2021/22 School Year)

Volunteer tutors are needed! Sign up now, and begin the week of January 3rd, 2022! Please select your time and location below. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of elementary students!

Learn More

Contact HMT Executive Director Emily Gaffney at to learn more about the effort to bring math tutoring to Charleston elementary students and how you can help.


Emily Gaffney,  HMT Executive Director

John Cooper, Committee Chair, Social Venture Partners Charleston

Eric Eubank, HMT Board of Directors, Pamlico Capital

Karen Fonkert, Ph.D., Charleston Southern University  

Marina Hart, Longshore Boats

George Hartley, Social Venture Partners Charleston

Scott Olsen, PwC (retired), Social Venture Partners Charleston

Wendy Sheppard,  College of Charleston




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