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, Claremont Graduate University, in partnership with Harvey Mudd College and the Long Beach Unified School District, launched an innovative and ambitious program which 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.    

Karen McMillen, a Claremont-based documentary filmmaker, was brought onto the project to create a short fundraising film chronicling the first summer of the camp. That film, Strong Moves: The Claremont-Long Beach Math Collaborative, won a CINE Golden Eagle and was instrumental in helping the program to raise sufficient funds to double in size the following year.

During the course of that first year, Ms. McMillen and her team were hooked. 

“I was immediately drawn to the earnest and promising scholars in this program and couldn’t help but wonder what would happen to them over the course of the next 4 years.” 

Determined to keep documenting the first class to go through the collaborative, Ms. McMillen set out to create a feature-length documentary that would tell the story.

Ms. McMillen and her team have continued to follow the initial group of scholars, donating much of their time and equipment to the film project, recently launching a fundraising campaign to help cover the costs of filming during the upcoming year. Their goal is to raise $5530 in 30 days via the online fundraising tool, Kickstarter. Inspired by a powerful first response that has raised $4191 so far, Ms. McMillen and her team work to earn the final $1300 before the funding deadline of Friday, August 31.

“We are blown away by the generosity of our supporters,” Ms. McMillen said.

To donate to the project, visit and search for Strong Moves, or go to:


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