Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

BELL: Winner's Statement

Social Capitalists

BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life)

Dorchester, Massachusetts

CEO: Earl Martin Phalen

What it does: BELL's after-school and summer programs serve primary-school students from mostly low-income families. The organization combines rigorous academics with creatively constructive activities, a culturally diverse curriculum, technology that tracks participants' progress, and a mentor system that introduces scholars to successful people from similar backgrounds.

Results: BELL supports about 7,000 "scholars" in four cities; 82% read at least at a "proficient" level, despite typically starting a year or more behind.

Social Impact: A-
Aspiration and Growth: B+
Entrepreneurship: A
Innovation: B
Sustainability: A-

Winner's Statement

BELL educates children in order to transform communities.

BELL's mission is to increase the academic achievements, self-esteem, and life opportunities of underperforming children living in low-income, urban communities. We pursue our mission by providing tutoring and mentoring programs, after school and during the summer, to the children who need them most: those who are performing below grade level and who come from low-income families. The BELL After School and BELL Accelerated Learning Summer Programs feature small-group tutoring in literacy and math; mentoring from adult role models to foster self-respect and social skills; experiential learning through field trips, guest speakers, and community service; support for parents to more deeply engage in their children's education; and rigorous evaluation to ensure continual improvement and success for children.

BELL recognizes that the pathway to opportunity lies in education. By helping children achieve academic and social proficiency during their formative elementary school years, embrace their rich cultural heritage, and take ownership over their community, we are inspiring the next generation of leaders who will do their part to make the world a more vibrant, safe, and peaceful home to live, work, and play.

In BELL's educational programs, "scholars" excel.

BELL scholars excel academically and socially. In each of the past four years, every scholar entering BELL at the "failing" level, according to standardized tests, advanced to a higher performance category. Last year, 81% of scholars achieved "proficient" or "advanced" levels, up from 48% at the beginning of the program. And 88% increased their self-esteem. In the BELL Accelerated Learning Summer Program, scholars consistently gain six months' worth of grade-equivalent skills in the six-week program.

BELL is proud of the achievements of our scholars. Our vision for children is best epitomized by a young woman named Mousson, who enrolled in BELL in 1992, our first year of operation. Mousson had just immigrated from Haiti, and was a quiet and reserved student. In BELL, Mousson's mentor motivated her to work harder in school and told her that by succeeding in school, she could get a scholarship and be the first person in her family to attend college. In BELL, Mousson gained self-confidence and improved her academic skills. Today, Mousson is realizing her dream. She is receiving a full scholarship to attend Bryn Mawr University in Pennsylvania, where she maintains a 4.0 GPA. Mousson plans to become a doctor, return to Haiti, and set up a clinic to help people access the health care they need but can't afford. An inspiration to us all, Mousson truly is an "educated leader for life."

BELL continues to deepen and expand our impact on children.

This year, BELL is educating 7,000 children, whom we call "scholars," in more than 44 public schools in Boston, New York, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. BELL uses capacity-building support from private sources to leverage government revenue streams and expand our impact on children. Private partners are also helping BELL increase the quality of its educational programs to ensure that children have the best chance to succeed in school and in life. For example, a new partnership with Houghton Mifflin provides BELL with skills-based curricula resources and innovative assessment tools to increase the quality of academic instruction provided in its programs. Collaborations with youth-serving organizations in New York, such as the Children's Aid Society and TASC, enable us to provide more hours of enrichment to our scholars. And, partnerships with colleges and universities in each BELL city provide a steady stream of aspiring teachers who develop their skills while pursuing their passion as they work alongside professional educators to tutor scholars in BELL programs.

BELL's most important goal is for 100% of our scholars to achieve academic proficiency while they are in elementary school. Long-term goals for scholars are that they will graduate from high school with their peers, pursue higher education, and attain meaningful career paths. They will give back to their community. They will be great fathers and mothers, friends and mentors, leaders and citizens. We hope that, in pursuing our mission, our impact on children is not limited to the reach of our programs, but that they also present models that can be replicated and applied throughout the world to help thousands, even millions, of children excel. There is no limit to the impact we can have on education, just as Mousson demonstrates that there is no limit to what a child can achieve with the support and guidance of caring tutors and mentors.

Learn more | Get involved

The above Winner's Statement was provided by the profiled organization.