BEAM Receives $1 Million Cooke Foundation Talent Development Award
Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM) – a program that provides advanced math instruction to low-income students in New York City to prepare them for college and careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) – is expanding to Los Angeles with a $1 million grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.
The move is the first step in a planned national expansion of BEAM, which has helped more than 400 low-income, African-American and Hispanic students in New York City middle schools and high schools improve their problem-solving skills. Such students are severely underrepresented among the ranks of professionals in the STEM fields.
The $1 million Cooke Foundation Talent Development Award will enable BEAM to hire a Los Angeles director this summer and select middle schools in a low-income area of the city for its programs by the end of this year.
In 2018 BEAM plans to begin a five-week summer program for rising 7th graders in Los Angeles, and in 2019 the nonprofit plans to begin a three-week residential summer program on a local college campus for rising 8th graders, modeled on BEAM’s New York programs. The new programs are expected to serve at least 140 students each summer over the next three years. BEAM will continue serving the students through high school.
In addition to running its own program, BEAM helps its students get scholarships to participate in summer enrichment programs run by other organizations, such as the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, in 8th through 12th grades. BEAM students also get free books and access to a free online course. On top of this, BEAM advises students on gaining admission to college and applying for college scholarships.
BEAM students in New York last summer had a median family income of $28,000 and 84 percent identified as African-American or Hispanic. When they reach high school age most have entered one of New York City’s selective high schools. The oldest BEAM students who’ve kept in touch with the program have gone on to graduate from high school and enroll in selective colleges and universities to pursue STEM degrees.
“Our students are extraordinary, with strong mathematical reasoning skills when they enter BEAM and even stronger skills and drive after participating in our programs,” said BEAM Executive Director Daniel Zaharopol. “Affluent parents can pay thousands of dollars for summer enrichment programs like these for their children, but the parents of our students can’t. BEAM enables outstanding low-income students to more fully develop their talents in math and science, gain admission to selective colleges and prepare for high-level careers.”
BEAM wants its programs in New York and Los Angeles to serve as models for improving STEM educational opportunities for high-achieving, low-income students, Zaharopol said. BEAM will be seeking additional funding for its expansion efforts across the country.
“There’s a false stereotype that students from low-income families aren’t as smart as students from wealthy families,” said Cooke Foundation Executive Director Harold O. Levy, who is also a former New York City schools chancellor. “BEAM proves that low-income students can excel when they’re given equal educational opportunities.”
“BEAM students are modern-day Hidden Figures, developing their great talents with BEAM’s help and overcoming enormous barriers,” Levy said. The 2016 film “Hidden Figures” told the true story of three brilliant black female mathematicians from low-income backgrounds who played important roles in helping NASA in the race to land a man on the moon, despite the prejudice they faced.
The Cooke Foundation has been a BEAM funder since 2012. With the new $1 million Talent Development Award and a new $250,000 award for New York City operations, the foundation has provided BEAM with a total of $2.3 million.
Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM), a project of the Art of Problem Solving Initiative, creates pathways for underserved students to become scientists, mathematicians, engineers and computer scientists. Since 2011 it has provided hundreds of low-income middle school students in New York City with intensive summer math enrichment, and provides students with year-round mentoring and weekly advising in high school. www.beammath.org
The Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the foundation has provided over $152 million in scholarships to nearly 2,200 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive counseling and other support services. The foundation has also awarded over $90 million in grants to organizations that serve such students. www.jkcf.org
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