The Next Generation of Math Whizzes is in Our Urban Schools

Meet BEAM: an experimental program for middle-school math whizzes—low income gifted students who get overlooked…

By Emil Friedman
Lynn Cartwright-Punnett looks at advanced, extracurricular math in the same way that David Brooks looks at Italian deli meats: cultural capital standing between lower-income folks and entrance to America’s elite – but for her, it’s the world of hyper-charged mathematicians and computer scientists, not soppressata and the New Yorker, she’s working to equalize access to.

Ms. Cartwright-Punnett is the Director of Programs and Development for Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (known simply as “BEAM”), a three-week summer math camp held at private colleges in upstate New York, tuition-free, for lower-income public middle schoolers from the city. BEAM serves hundreds of students per summer, offering them a choice of elective college-level math classes (combinatorics, anyone?) alongside high school standardized test prep.

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