College campuses (students live in college dorms during summer camp) and office in FiDi
55 exchange Place
New York, NY 10005
BEAM (Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics)’s BEAM (Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics) is a profiled program in the Plugging In Report.
Who is served: Students in grades 6–12 in the Bronx, Upper Manhattan and Chinatown, Brooklyn, and Queens who are underrepresented in STEM (90 percent black or Latinx, half female, 70 percent first generation to go to college; family income is $30,000 or less).
Number of participants: 200 rising 6th graders in Discovery summer program; 80 students are accepted to Pathway in NYC per year; 400+ alumni in grades 8–12.
Location: Pathway summer program is held at college campuses (this year at Bard College and Union College). Subsequent school-year programming is at BEAM offices in Manhattan’s Financial District.
Frequency/Duration: Discovery (Summer program for rising 7th graders): 5 weeks, 5 days per week, 7 hours per day. Pathway (five-year summer program for rising 8th- through 12th-graders): 3 weeks, 5 days per week, 7 hours per day.
- During 8th grade: Algebra I course, private tutoring & enrichment courses
- High school: classes every Saturday, drop-in hours
Eligibility Criteria: Highly competitive admissions process, but with no consideration of test scores. Students must be ready for advanced math (most students who are admitted to Pathway have completed Discovery program the year before). Priority given to those who come from lower-income families or wouldn’t otherwise have access to similar programs.
In addition to Discovery/Pathway programs, BEAM partners with 35 public schools in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens where the majority of the student population is eligible for free and reduced price lunch and Black or Latinx.
Curriculum: BEAM doesn’t reinforce school-based math, except for the Algebra 1 course preparing 8th graders for the Regents. Rather, “the key is thinking,” said Lynn Cartwright-Punnett, BEAM senior director of programs, including critical reasoning and abstract thinking, as well as how to see patterns, determine whether something can be proven, and organize mathematically.
Discovery/6th-grade summer program: 4 classes in Logic, Math Fundamentals, Math Team Strategies, and Applied Math. Faculty have “free reign” for applied math courses and some focus on coding. Career day visits/guest speakers, and tours of STEM-related workplaces included.
Pathway: 7th-grade courses change each year and can include number theory, incidence geometry, logic, astrophysics, computer programming. Some students learn Arduino, Python, Java, Alice (not block-based coding/Scratch); 8th grade: focus on Algebra 1; High school: SAT/ACT prep.
Outcomes: Help applying to high schools in 8th grade; Support during 9th and 10th grade through the BEAM Next Saturday program, assistance with applying to future summer programs;; free SAT/ACT prep courses; advising to assist with getting college scholarships; dedicated support for college students majoring in STEM fields.
Partnerships: Partners include 34-36 partner middle/high schools in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx, as well as Bard College and Union College. Schools: AAMT (Academy of Applied Math & Technology/MS 343), Brooklyn Science and Engineering Academy, CCAA (City College Academy of the Arts, MS 293), CiS 303 (Leadership and Community Service Academy), Coney Island Prep, Dock Street, East Side (East Side Community High School), Excellence Boys (Excellence Boys Charter School), Fannie Lou Hamer (Fannie Lou Hamer Middle School), Girls Prep, Hamilton Grange Middle School Highbridge Green (Highbridge Green School), HVA (Harlem Village Academy Leadership Charter), Hyde (Hyde Leadership Charter School), IS 77, KIPP Infinity, KIPP STAR, M.S. 244, The New School for Leadership and The Arts, MS 118 (William W. Niles), MS 324 (Patria Mirabal), MS 358 (Queens), PA 2 (Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy II), PS/IS 171, PS/MS 280, PS/MS 29, SOF Brooklyn (School of the Future Brooklyn), South Bronx Early, College Academy, Sunset Park Prep, TEP (TEP Charter), The Young Women’s Leadership School of Brooklyn, UA AMS (Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science), UAI (Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women/MS 527), UASCJ (Urban Assembly School for Criminal Justice), Urban Assembly Unison School, WCCS (Williamsburg Collegiate Charter School), WHEELS (Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School)
Sources of funding: Private. Major supporters are Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Simons Foundation.
What makes the program stand out? BEAM is one of the few programs in New York City taking direct aim at the disparity in higher-level mathematics between Black and Latinx students and their white and Asian peers, as part of its mission to diversify STEM fields.
Math is recognized as a critical pathway into STEM subjects. Beyond sparking students’ interest in math before high school (especially in New York City, where only 40 percent of public high schools offer calculus) BEAM propels students into additional extracurricular opportunities in STEM, such as math contests and other summer programs which will help students stand out on in college admissions. Most students are unaware of the wide range of professions that a higher degree in math can lead to. BEAM exposes students to different pathways to success, like working at the NSA, becoming a professor or consulting at Google.
What do participants need to succeed? Students have requested a trigonometry refresher class prior to AP subject tests, which BEAM provided, along with opportunities to learn computer programming. Another need has been social and emotional support for students from nontraditional backgrounds (often Black and Latinx students) who are accepted into top high schools that don’t reflect the demographics they were used to in middle school. BEAM began offering social worker-led young men’s and women’s groups, where students can talk about whatever is on their minds.
Although students are digital natives, according to Cartwright-Punnett, they need guidance with professional/workplace skills like how to archive email, for example, and advice on “what it’s like to be a woman in 21st-century America.”