A national nonprofit founded in 1992

Scholar Stories

Students enrolled in BellXcel-powered programs are known as scholars as high expectations are interwoven into the fabric of all programs. They are typically underperforming students from under-resourced communities who struggle to access high-quality summer and afterschool programming.

They come from all corners of the country, from rural farmlands to large urban centers. Yet, they share two things in common — they face similar socio-economic challenges that have brought them to this critical point in their educational development, and they are all eager to learn and thrive

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Scholar Snapshots

frankie smiling


Frankie Cruz was a BellXcel scholar for seven years. He later served as a volunteer and academic tutor. Frankie transformed from a struggling middle school student into an aspiring teacher who is on his way to college! 

When he entered BellXcel Summer, he had been held back twice due to failing grades. His teachers and site manager believed in his ability to excel and inspired him to do the same. After two years with the program, his grades skyrocketed. He was awarded a Boston Red Sox Scholarship, taking him one step closer to a college degree.


mariah smiling


Mariah was struggling in math. Sleepless nights and stressful school days caused the sixth-grader to become disengaged in her class. She was invited by her teacher to enroll in BellXcel Summer to boost her math skills, and broaden her career awareness. She visited the New England Aquarium, and Boston College's biology lab, sparking an interest in science. "That was really exciting. Now, I have a goal to become a veterinarian." In the span of 5 weeks, she transformed from a struggling student into a thriving scholar!

helen smiling red shirt


Helen moved to Boston from Nigeria when she was in preschool. After four years as a BellExcel scholar, Helen not only improved her reading and math skills, but also her social-emotional learning and self-confidence.

When Helen first moved to Boston, she was bullied because of her Nigerian accent. At BellXcel, she found her voice, and overcame her shyness. "My favorite was Be the Change because we learned how to prevent bullying,” she says.  "Community engagement was key. She made friends and shined!" says her teacher. 

group of students and teacher smiling


More than 100 scholars are sitting up straight, waiting for their name to be called so they can receive their long-awaited medal. Teachers, parents, siblings, friends, and school faculty look on. Ms. Anderson, a teacher, introduces the scholars, who stand one by one and walk proudly toward the podium. 

"Mr. Tyrell."

The crowd cheers. Tyrell stands and flashes a broad smile. He has had a great summer, bursting with learning and growth, and he's now ready to enter the 8th grade fully prepared, and emboldened with a love of learning. "The program gave him an opportunity to be himself, be creative, and t get ready for the next grade,” his father says.

Thanh Ly


When Thanh, first enrolled as a kindergarten scholar, she spoke limited English, which made it a challenge for her to communicate with peers. That all changed profoundly after she enrolled in BellXcel Afterschool, which offered a Taekwondo enrichment experience.

In front of her class, she demonstrates her Ap Chagior front kick technique, splitting a board in half. “When I used to come here, I was shy. I didn’t think I could do it. This makes me feel strong and proud.”

Thanh’s father's flexible schedule enables him to be home after school. Yet, Thanh prefers to be in BellXcel. “She loves coming to BellXcel and there is no arguing with her!” he says.

aries and family


Aries has come a long way since he first enrolled in BellXcel Afterschool four years ago as a kindergartener. He was very timid. "He used to have difficulty reading," his mother, Annette, explains. "Now, all his work he brings home is 100, and he's using fifth grade words as a fourth grader," she says.

Annette is thrilled with the progress she has seen Aries make in BellXcel, and in school. She, like all scholar parents, are kept abreast of her child’s performance via progress reports. Annette is also the President of her school’s PTA. "Parents ask me which program works for kids, and I say that in my opinion, my child has learned in BellXcel. It works.”



Marginald benefited from BellXcel’s small classroom environments and high educator-to-scholar ratio. "She doesn't get one-on-one time outside of BellXcel. She wants to thrive and the program helps increase her self-confidence," says her teacher. 

In class, Marginald now raises her hand, volunteers in class, and assists classmates. BellXcel Summer reinforced her love for reading story-telling. "I have been in the program since kindergarten. It has helped me become stronger in school. I have also made a lot of friends,” she says.

"Scholars like Marginald become leaders," says her teacher. “She definitely benefited from the small-group academic instruction, mentorship, and enrichment activities. She is determined to excel in academics.” 

alex with hoodie smiling


BellXcel After School's small-group classroom environment served as a perfect setting for 11-year-old Alex. This provided Alex with the attention he needed to channel his boundless energy and insatiable appetite for learning. His teachers, empowered by BellXcel’s professional development, spent one-on-one time with him. Those regular check-ins made a world of difference with his focus and motivation.

"My favorite subject is math. "I stutter a lot so reading can be harder for me, but with math I feel comfortable." He says. 

"He is an active contributing member of the class," says his teacher.  

When asked about the meaning of being scholar," Alex replies: "I'm a scholar because I have a lot of potential."



Tanisha attended BellXcel Afterschool as a fifth-grader. Later, she would become BellXcel’s alumni coordinator, connecting alumni with academic, community and enrichment programs. Drawing from her first-hand experience, she engaged with scholar families and communicated with them on an on-going basis.

“One thing I loved was its mission to transform the life trajectories of children. That resonated with me because I can see how my trajectory was changed,” she says. “I could have ended up in a whole different scenario, but my trajectory was changed by the things I did outside of school.”

Today, as a mother, Tanisha is applying her life lessons to transform the life trajectory of her daughter Sirhye.

The Scholar Pledge

I am a scholar
I am the future
I am intelligent
I am unique

When the time comes
I will be a leader

When there is injustice
I will take a stand

And to make a difference
I will learn

Because I am and always will be
An educated leader for life!


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Girl BellXcel pledge