A nonprofit founded in 1992

Our History

For over a quarter century, BellXcel has impacted the lives of over 172,000 children. Scholars come from all corners of our country, including rural, peri-rural, urban and peri-urban communities. Journey through our Through the Years Timeline. Learn about our humble beginnings, and our meteoric rise to become a national leader in out-of-school-time education, and the largest evidence-based summer learning provider in the U.S.

Through the Years


  • A group of African-American and Latino Harvard University students create an after-school tutoring program called BELL to address the disproportionate number of children in underserved communities falling behind in school, and in life. 

  • 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 enrolled-students as scholars
  • Creates a vision – that all children excel 
  • High expectations become a hallmark of all programs
  • BELL launches its first summer program to address 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
  • Entire first class of 20 scholars enroll in college
  • Expands after-school programs in MA, NY & MD as part of the national No Child Left Behind Act


  • Serves a high of 3,200 summer scholars.
  • 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.


  • 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
  • Serves a record 16,974 scholars


  • 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
  • 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


  • 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-powered programs
  • Montgomery County Public Schools study confirms BELL’s positive impact on MAP scores in reading and math


  • According to a Bellwether study, 100 percent of teachers reported that BELL's professional development positively influenced their approach to teaching in the new school year
  • 2018 was a banner year, impacting more scholars in a single year than ever before

2019 & Beyond

  • BELL officially changes its name to BellXcel
  • Scholars are accomplishing extraordinary things and improving the world for generations to come


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