Can a summer math camp provide a bridge out of poverty?
Math is a gate-keeper for kids. And for kids from poor neighborhoods, it can be the thing that locks them into a life of poverty.
In 2011, I was asked to create a short documentary following the first summer of an experiment in education. This innovative and ambitious program gathered up a group of promising 13 year olds from one of the toughest neighborhoods in Long Beach, and gave them intensive math training; training designed to shore up their skills as they headed into high school, and ultimately, to create a pathway for them to college.
When I showed up for the first day of our shoot in the summer of 2011, as the young scholars assembled to board a bus to Claremont, I trained my camera on faces full of promise, excitement and trepidation. Many had never left the few square miles of their neighborhood. Many dreamed of college, but had no idea what it would take to get there. I was hooked. I made a commitment to myself to continue documenting this group of young men throughout their four summers at the Math Collaborative, and hopefully beyond.
Where We Are Now
We filmed that first summer, witnessed incredible growth in the young scholars and created a 10 minute film for the program. That film, seen above, won a CINE Golden Eagle, and was instrumental in helping the Claremont-Long Beach Math Collaborative raise funds to more than double in size in Year Two.
I have been joined by a dedicated and talented crew, and together we have been scrambling to document Year Two of the camp. We've been working on a shoestring and need funding to finish out production for this summer. We will edit together a brief clip of highlights from this year for the program to use at their closing ceremonies. Then, we plan to continue to film the scholars as they return to Long Beach and document some of their experiences throughout their sophomore year.
What We Need to Do Next
Next year, we plan to do it all over again, and then again and again until the inaugural group of scholars graduates from high school and, hopefully, steps onto their own college campuses in the fall of 2015. The resulting film will chronicle this group's four-year journey, providing insight for other programs seeking to create educational bridges for kids in similar situations, and underscoring how life-altering such an opportunity can be.
But we need your help to make this happen. Our current goal of $5530 will see us through filming this year, helping to pay for equipment, crew (working at seriously discounted rates), gas, and other expenses. But if we exceed that goal (and we definitely hope to) we will use those funds to continue filming in Years 3 and 4.
We can't do this without the support of people like you. Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing deal. We will only get what you pledge if we reach our initial goal -- otherwise, we don't get anything. Thank you so much for giving whatever you can, and for helping to spread the word about this project to your friends, families and colleagues!
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