Mathcamp 2020 will run online: Learn more.
As we face together the challenge of a global pandemic, Mathcamp is adapting to the times: we'll be running a five-week, immersive, virtual program online this summer. We're not pretending that Virtual Mathcamp will look or feel like our traditional residential program; instead, we are starting with the core values of education, inspiration, and community-building and building a brand-new program from the ground up.
After much discussion among the Board of Directors, and consultation with our staff and alumni, we announced on April 15th that we'd be going online, and immediately started making plans. Our first policy decisions were about fidelity to our community: no layoffs or reductions in salary (and we're honoring every one of the summer staff's contracts), and continuing to provide scholarships to fully meet the needs of all of our students and their families. In place of travel grants, we're providing technology grants: providing laptops, tablets, and high-speed internet to bridge gaps in access. Then we took a look at the budget with fresh eyes.
In a non-residential setting, we were able to dramatically reduce the tuition—dropping from $4,500 down to $1,500 per student—by simply removing room, board, and travel expenses. At this level, tuition revenue will allow us to pay our excellent instructors (who are creatively and thoughtfully adapting to the online format) and counselors (who wear many hats, as always: organizing logistics, creating social activities, and now TAing for our online classes!). Some of our program expenses will remain exactly the same: we'll be making t-shirts and yearbooks, just like we do every year! Other categories will shuffle: no buses, but a lot of mailing packages. We're also making a major investment into technology to design and run our virtual program. With the help of the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program and the continued support of our alumni and friends, we are on track to weather this storm together.
Of course, our commitment to financial aid is unwavering. We are honored by grants from the Epsilon Fund and the National Science Foundation, which provide the first $25,000 of student scholarships, and grateful to our generous donors who deliver us to the finish line.
Mathcamp is a DIY kind of organization, and we're building a virtual campus where our program will take place. It's an interactive world, and designed to be our dream campus – because if you were imagining the best version of a dorm, wouldn't the lounge have stained glass windows with panes arranged in a Sierpinski triangle? The space will also interface with video conferencing and text chat. We'll be teaching an ambitious schedule of classes and running lots of individual and small-group projects. At the same time, we're designing ways to connect outside the classroom: we come together not only to learn math, but to learn about one another's worlds. The virtual format, and the intimacy of connecting our homes to one another, gives us a new opportunity to deepen these conversations.
We're excited to say that our students, parents, and staff have responded really well to the plan. We will have 127 students and 29 staff members this summer, coming together from all around the world. The 20 people in the Eastern hemisphere are graciously shifting their schedules, and we've designed our daily schedule to work across a wide array of time zones. The students are already dreaming up ways to preserve our favorite traditions from the residential program, and to start new ones, too.
Mathcamp has always been a place where students from all walks of life come together to study mathematics with peers who share their creativity and love of learning. As we endeavor to create a new program for summer 2020 to meet this moment, and steward our organization through the era of COVID-19: we couldn't do this work without you! It's an exciting journey, and we are grateful to all of our supporters who make it possible.