Independent Proof


BELL is committed to building the evidence base around how more time for learning can increase scholar achievement. Through a culture of continuous improvement, and rigorous third-party evaluations, we learn more about what works to ensure that our programs evolve to meet the needs of scholars, families, and schools. We are fortunate to have the support of donors who share our commitment to research and learning. After all, less than 4% of nonprofits have rigorous evidence of impact in the form of randomized controlled trial studies, the "gold standard" in research design.


Researchers from the Urban Institute completed a two-year, randomized controlled trial of BELL Summer and its impact on scholars' reading achievement and parental involvement.

The evaluation, Impact of a Summer Learning Program: A Random Assignment Study of Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL) found statistically significant evidence regarding the ability of BELL Summer to improve the reading skills of low-performing children. In addition, the study found evidence of positive impacts on the degree to which parents encouraged their children to read, and the degree to which they read with their children.

These results are of particular importance given the long-standing public policy focus on raising achievement levels of students living in under-resourced communities. Our data-driven approach sets BELL apart as one of very few summer learning models with strong evidence of impact.


"Every child, regardless of their family income or zip code, deserves access to high-quality education all year long, and that includes after school and summertime."

Lauren Sanchez Gilbert Ed.D.
Chief Executive Officer


MDRC Evaluation

Researchers from MDRC completed a one-year, randomized controlled trial of BELL Summer for middle school scholars. The study investigated academic impact, as well as program implementation and scholar engagement.

The evaluation, An Analysis of the Effects of an Academic Summer Program for Middle School Students, found evidence that suggests participating in summer learning increases the math achievement of middle school students. It also found that BELL and its school partners implemented high-quality programming, which achieved high scholar attendance. Despite some limitations to the study's design and execution, these findings are important given the lack of evidence of what works for increasing middle school student achievement in the summer.