through the years (1992-2017)




  • A group of Harvard students creates an after-school tutoring program called BELL to address the disproportionate number of children in underserved communities falling behind. 
  • BELL is founded, and is named in honor of Derrick A. Bell, Jr., Harvard Law's first African-American tenured professor.
  • With guidance and support from board chair emeritus Professor Charles J. Ogletree and board member Dr. Robert S. Peterkin, the BELL after-school program serves 20 students in its first year. 



  • BELL refers to students as scholars, as all children can excel 
  • High expectations are woven into the programs.
  • BELL launches its first summer program to address the achievement gap and summer learning loss.



  • BELL is honored by the Clinton White House for leadership.
  • Barack Obama, then a U.S. Senator, mentions BELL as an exemplar of summer learning programs.
  • BELL’s entire first class of 20 scholars enroll in college.
  • BELL expands after-school programs in MA, NY & MD as part of the national No Child Left Behind Act.



  • BELL serves a high of 3,200 summer scholars.
  • BELL creates the Robert S. Peterkin Award for Excellence.
  • An Urban Institute study finds that BELL improves scholars’ performance, making it one of the few summer learning programs in the nation with independent evidence of impact.



  • BELL expands to GA, NC and SC.
  • New York Life Foundation awards BELL a $1M grant to support elementary and middle school scholars.
  • The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Trust donates $1.1M to serve NYC public school students.
  • The Walmart Foundation donates $4M to expand to Charlotte, Springfield, San Jose, and San Rafael.
  • BELL serves a record 16,974 scholars.



  • BELL serves 7,932 summer scholars; hires and provides professional development to over 1,250 teachers.
  • Grant from American Honda Foundation enables BELL to expand STEM courses to 1,320 scholars.
  • BELL forms a partnership with YMCA of the USA, significantly expanding its national footprint. 
  • Successful Pre-K pilot in NYC paves the way for future expansion. 



  • 1,850 scholars from 14 cities participate in the YMCA of the USA's Power Scholar Academy program.
  • Pre-K initiative in CA is launched, serving 5 school districts.
  • BELL serves a record 14,000 scholars in summer programs directly with districts and with other partners such as the YMCA of the USA.


2017 & BEYOND

  • BELL celebrates its 25th anniversary, serving nearly 15,000 scholars at 135 sites in 28 U.S. states.
  • Over 150K scholars have been served by BELL.
  • Dr. Lauren Gilbert is named BELL's CEO, replacing Dr. Tiffany Gueye, who served BELL for 18 years.
  • Scholars are accomplishing extraordinary things and improving the world for generations to come.

Stories of Impact

Make sure to check in from time to time as Beyond will evolve throughout the year, with new stories of impact.

Breaking barriers through Taekwondo.

Thanh Ly, a third grade scholar, has found her inner strength and voice through Taekwondo enrichment. One kick at a time, she is gaining skills and applying them in the classroom, and in life.


A safe haven for scholars to succeed.

Violence is a topic all too familiar to Daniel Brown's family. So when she heard of BELL, she quickly enrolled her children, joining a growing group of parents who see BELL as a safe haven for scholars to blossom. 


Serving a growing family, one scholar at a time.

With three scholars enrolled in BELL, and a fourth child on the way, BELL provides the Castillos with peace of mind, enabling them to work extra hours to provide a solid foundation for their family.


Creating community in the classroom.

Scholar success boils down to relationships, says Nancy Kelly, a fourth grade math teacher. Through BELL, she is nurturing stronger relationships with her current students, and forging new ones with her future class.


Dad: Parent involvement is key to success.

Parental engagement, a key variable in BELL’s equation for scholar success, comes to life in this feature story. “If fathers are not involved, that’s a problem,” Mr. Bishop says.


Former scholar. Current leader.

Follow Tanisha's journey from a fifth grade BELL scholar to a key BELL staff member. Now, as a mother, she is applying her learnings from BELL and changing her daughter Sirhye's life trajectory.