Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM): Nurturing the Love of Math


How many integers between 1000 and 9999 have four distinct digits? This is one example of what students in Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics program (BEAM) are tackling over the summer. And they love it! BEAM aims to create pathways for underserved students to become scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and computer scientists. Andy, a participant in the 2013 summer program, says of his summer experience at BEAM: “I learned to love math’s beauty.”

“We teach math because it is beautiful and elegant, and because approaching challenging problems teaches us to be better thinkers,” says Dan Zaharopol, BEAM’s executive director. “If students are going to keep moving in mathematics, towards advanced careers, they need this love of math to anchor them when courses become tough.”

BEAM’s approach takes into consideration the fact that pathways to STEM careers are not simply linear, and that to be successful in STEM students must have access to many extracurricular, rigorous learning opportunities throughout K-12, such as summer programs, competitions, math contests, research projects, internships, and science clubs, to name a few examples. For a closer look at the program, watch this fantastic video featuring BEAM’s staff and students.

“This summer I learned not only to be a great mathematician, but to be more curious and independent.”
– Jennora, 2015 BEAM summer program participant

The program was recently featured in articles in The Atlantic, EdWeek, and The Washington Post.  Since the Cooke Foundation began funding the program in 2012, it has grown from serving just 40 students in the summer, to now serving over 250 year-round. This summer, they are launching a day program for rising 7th graders in New York City, in addition to operating two existing residential program sites for rising 8th graders.

Earlier this month, BEAM was selected into Edwin Gould Foundation’s selective nonprofit accelerator program.  In addition to a small amount of funding and free office space, they will receive mentoring and coaching for staff and board to grow their capacity.

James, a 2013 participant says of the program: “BEAM has helped me come to closer to my future goals than anything else aside from my family ever has; they have given me the best of advice and have referred me to countless new opportunities.  I owe a lot of my current and future success to BEAM.”

This year, BEAM’s first cohort is getting ready to head off to college. We are excited to continue to support the program as it prepares the next generation of mathematicians and scientists.

PS: Did you solve the math problem above? Click here for the answer!