A national nonprofit founded in 1992

BELL Challenge Seeks 10,000 Signatures to Help Raise Books for Children


BOSTON, MA - BELL™ (Building Educated Leaders for Life™), a leader in summer learning and afterschool programs, has partnered with educational publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to create the BELL Summer Challenge, with the goal of inspiring adults to help make summer an enriching time for all children. The campaign's efforts underscore the volumes of research illustrating the benefits of summer learning programs, as well as recent comments by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stating that summer learning is one of the best ways to address the nation's achievement gap.

BELL and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt are urging adults to sign the pledge at www.BELLSummerChallenge.org and commit to making summer a time of learning and enrichment for a child in their life. On the campaign web site, visitors will find examples of enriching activities such as museum visits, concerts, reading and math activities, as well as volunteer activities for adults and children to do together. If 10,000 adults sign the pledge, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will donate books to every student in BELL's summer learning program.

"The summer is an incredibly vital time for our children to continue their learning," said Josef Blumenfeld, of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. "With the help of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, BELL ensures that summer does not become a time of regress for students out of school, but one of outstanding progress as learning becomes a year-round endeavor."

As a leader in summer learning, this summer BELL is serving more than 3,200 students, whom BELL calls "scholars," in seven cities. The award-winning BELL Summer program provides rigorous and robust literacy and math instruction, mentoring and social enrichment activities, as well as educational field trips and community service projects. BELL Summer was cited in President Barack Obama's 2005 STEP-UP legislation as a model summer learning program, and was also part of a June 2009 Presidential event recognizing innovative programs that are transforming communities across the nation.

On average, scholars in the BELL Summer program gain three months of academic skills-as opposed to backsliding three months, as many students do during the summer. In addition, scholars cut their achievement gap in reading by 50 percent during the five-week program.

About Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:

Boston-based Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company is a global education leader and the world's largest publisher of educational materials for pre-K-12 schools. The Company publishes a comprehensive set of best-in-class educational solutions, ranging from research-based textbook programs to instructional technology to standards-based assessments for students and educators. The Company also publishes an extensive line of reference works and award-winning literature for adults and young readers. With origins dating back to 1832, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt combines its tradition of excellence with a commitment to innovation. To learn more about Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, visit www.hmhpub.com.

About BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life):

BELL, founded in 1992, is one of the nation's leading providers of quality afterschool and summer learning programs. It is committed to enhancing the educational achievements, self-esteem and life opportunities of children living in under-resourced communities. BELL serves more than 11,000 children annually in schools throughout Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, Flint (Mich.), New York City and Saginaw (Mich.). Please visit www.experiencebell.org for more information.


Collin Earnst
The Haselton Group (for BELL)

Josef Blumenfeld
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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