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BellXcel Commends FY2022 Omnibus Bill

BellXcel is pleased to see increases to several education programs in the final fiscal year 2022 Omnibus Bill. ---- On behalf of BellXcel, a national nonprofit with nearly 30 years of proven impact serving out of school time programs, we applaud Congress for the increases to education programs in the FY22 omnibus bill. BellXcel enables schools and youth development organizations to easily scale their programs through its evidence-based solution that combines program management technology with whole child curriculum, social and emotional learning, expansive professional development and coaching - all in one place. Washington DC - March 10, 2022 –– “As students continue to need educational and emotional support and while educators need ongoing professional development and support, BellXcel is pleased to see the investment Congress has made across the board to educational programs in the Fiscal Year 2022 Omnibus Bill. These programs provide safe places for underserved students to engage in a plethora of diverse learning experiences including STEM, music and the arts, social and emotional learning, and physical education. Programs supported by BellXcel are positioned for success because they understand the needs of the students and provide ongoing embedded high-quality professional development for educators. We are thankful to Congress for investing in professional development for educators as well as programs designed to increase the availability of mental health services in schools. Our hope is to see these resources extended to the afterschool and summer programs, as students and educators in the out of school time community also need support from these critical professionals. Below are the funding highlights included in the final omnibus: ● $17.5 billion, an increase of $1 billion more than the fiscal year 2021 level, for the Title I-A grants to local educational agencies program. This is the largest increase in the program in more than a decade. Title I-A grants assist more than half of our Nation’s public schools in their efforts to raise student achievement, particularly for students attending high- poverty schools to meet college and career-ready state academic standards, including through preschool programs for eligible children. ● $433 million—$14.2 billion in all—for special education state grant programs that support services to nearly 9 million students and children with a disability. ● $1.28 billion, a $60 million increase for Title IV-A, the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant program, which provides investments in safe and healthy students, well-rounded education, and effective use of educational technology. ● $75 million support for Full Service Community Schools, a proven approach that includes integrated student supports and family engagement that lead to improved student attendance and high school graduation rates ● $1.29 billion, an increase of $30 million, for 21st Century Community Learning Centers program which supports more than 10,000 centers around the nation serving 1.6 million students; ● $114 million, an increase of $7.5 million, for Education for Homeless Children and Youth, to assist the more than 1.4 million identified students experiencing homeless enroll and succeed in school. ● $15 million, an increase of $2.5 million more than last year, for Statewide Family Engagement Centers that promote parent and family engagement in schools. ● $111 million, an increase of $90 million more than last year, for Department of Education programs designed to increase the availability of mental health services in schools, including by expanding training programs to prepare new school counselors, social workers and psychologists.   Damon Johnson Senior Vice President, Strategic Alliances hbspt.cta.load(21031096, '74fe99bb-d8f6-4079-8146-3b39d311840a', {"useNewLoader":"true","region":"na1"});

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Overdeck Family Foundation Enhances Education Field

A leading supporter of BellXcel’s work, the Overdeck Family Foundation has funded BellXcel since 2019. ---- Gemma Lenowitz has served as a program officer in the Inspired Minds portfolio at the Overdeck Family Foundation since 2018. Previously, she served as a STEM coordinator and 12th grade lead at MESA Charter High School, where she founded and coached a robotics team, taught Bioengineering and Computer Science, and implemented edtech and project-based learning. BellXcel: What are your big-picture goals at Overdeck?  Gemma: Our mission is to measurably enhance education inside and outside the classroom. We focus exclusively on education, funding efforts both inside and outside of school in the areas of early childhood, informal STEM education, and K-9 programs that include supporting educators and student-centered learning environments. Our priority for the next three years is to continue to scale cost-effective models and organizations that accelerate improvement in academic and socioemotional outcomes for all kids. Specifically, we hope to use our grantmaking and strategic support to unlock innovation, build and strengthen organizational capacities, help grantees generate evidence, and support grantees in attracting follow-on funding. We will continue to fund research, learning, and measurement to ensure that we understand the outcomes of our grantmaking.  BellXcel: How does BellXcel fit into that picture? What caught your attention about the organization? Gemma: Thanks to the Institute for Educational Sciences, the Wallace Foundation and other evidence aggregators, there are reviews that demonstrate program effectiveness in alignment with ESSA’s tiered levels of evidence. Beyond BellXcel having the highest level of evidence, it was the breadth of research historically and in progress and the learning and improvement orientation of the team that stood out to me.   If you zoom out and think about after-school programs, they've been providing positive experiences for youth for decades, but it was clear that BellXcel was thinking about how to do that in the 21st century, leveraging edtech. The design is more efficient, with technology solutions that don’t replace human interaction, but actually eliminate some of the onerous administrative tasks so programs can operate more smoothly. What I quickly noticed about the platform is that it can actually give educators more time to plan great instruction, and more time with scholars. As a former teacher and coach, I knew those were two critical elements for student success. That's what caught our eye originally and why we chose to invest. BellXcel: What most excites/inspires you about BellXcel's work and future? Gemma: The first piece is just impact. We think the program can continue to have strong outcomes and provide the right delivery model for every site to see success for their kids. The second piece is that the tech enables a level of scalability. That's new, I think, to the out-of-school time field. They're the first SaaS Enterprise solution that I’ve heard about that centralizes all of the components on the platform, which makes it able to scale faster. And then on the other side of that, there's the demand. The contracts that BellXcel has won recently underscore that there are so many kids out there who could benefit from these services, and the adults in decision-making capacity in their communities believe that, too. I really appreciate that they are ready to deliver, because this moment asks so much of teachers and parents.  BellXcel: What excites you the most about philanthropy right now? Gemma: I'm really excited about the conversations about proximity and empathy in tech and in philanthropy. I think educator and student needs evolved faster than ever during COVID. And, educators and ed tech organizations need to stay on top of what's happening and develop services and products that resonate with their audience.  Funders didn't previously have a lot of insight into what their beneficiaries needed, and the grantee often acted as the intermediary. Now, I think funders can get much sharper insights into the current needs so that we're not relying on perception or old data. And, philanthropy is now more visibly and loudly encouraging nonprofits to make sure that their solution centers the experiences of their target population and that they use tools to gather better data. For example, we use the “net promoter” score with a lot of our grantees to understand the user experience on their platform or with their service. And now through the Fund for Shared Insight, (a group of philanthropists), and a service called Listen for Good, (a survey tool), we can put the end user’s voice at the forefront. By elevating the voices that are least heard in systems, we can match products and services to their specific needs. BellXcel: What are the greatest opportunities you see in K-12 education and OST?  Gemma: There are a lot of elements that were developed during COVID that we think should stay, including an increased focus on the home-school connection that will continue to be a focus for the foundation. This includes thinking about school readiness supports at home. What does it mean for a child to be school ready? What does it mean for a school to be ready for that child? There's a more racially and ethnically diverse set of students than ever before in public schools across the country this year, but they are also diverse in terms of interests and talents, too. So, how do we think about elevating those unique assets? In philanthropy, we’ll continue to support the scale of evidence-based practices and innovation to meet these and other new demands and challenges as they arise.  About Overdeck Family Foundation Founded in 2011 by John and Laura Overdeck, Overdeck Family Foundation's goal is to provide all children the opportunity to unlock their potential. Grantmaking and strategic support focus on unlocking innovation, evidence, and growth opportunities for organizations and researchers that are committed to accelerating key academic and socioemotional outcomes for all children.

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