A national nonprofit founded in 1992

"I Am The Future" Gala Helps Schools Expand Learning Time for Students

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BOSTON, Oct. 20, 2014 - BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), a nonprofit educational organization that partners with schools to expand learning time for at-risk kids, is raising substantial financial support to help schools boost student achievement. More than $465,000 has been raised in advance of Tuesday evening's gala.

"Thanks to the support of our sponsors and partners, we are creating new and exciting opportunities for students to participate in transformative learning experiences," said Tiffany Gueye, Ph.D., BELL's Chief Executive Officer. "Our programs now reach 12,000 children around the country and we're excited about the power of this work. Amazing things happen when we leverage the community's resources and work together to narrow the achievement gap in our schools."

Support for the gala and for BELL's expanded learning partnerships is growing after BELL completed a successful summer program, which helped more than 9,000 students gain reading and math skills, avoid summer learning loss, and be prepared to succeed in the new school year. In Boston, BELL partnered with Boston Public Schools to engage more than 1,600 students in academic support, hands-on enrichment, and community engagement. In addition to its work in Boston, as well as Baltimore, New York City, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, San Jose, and San Rafael (CA), BELL launched summer learning partnerships with schools in the Dayton, Ohio area; Oakland, Calif.; Wilmington, N.C.; and with YMCAs in Hartford, Conn.; Orlando, Fla; Montgomery, Ala.; Denver, Co; Washington, D.C.; Clearwater, Fla.; Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, and San Antonio, TX. The YMCA partnership is on track to expand to as many as 48 cities by 2016.

This year's "I am the Future" gala honors the work of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, First Lady Diane Patrick and Debra Smith Knez, a trustee of the Knez Family Charitable Foundation and The Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation. The guest speakers at the event include actor and author Hill Harper and Rev. Liz Walker, the pastor of Roxbury Presbyterian Church and co-founder of My Sister's Keeper.

BELL, which was founded in Boston, is honoring Gov. Patrick for his long and strong support of public education. The governor has funded public education at the highest levels ever in state history and his Administration's school reform initiatives earned Massachusetts the top spot in the national "Race to the Top" competition. His wife, Diane, is a former public school teacher who now is a partner with the law firm of Ropes & Gray and who has worked tirelessly with her husband to raise educational standards. Debra Smith Knez, as a trustee of the Knez Family Charitable Foundation and The Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation, has played a leadership role in supporting BELL's growth and impact for more than a decade.

The gala will begin at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday at the Boston Harbor Hotel. Key corporate sponsors of the dinner include Bulger Partners, District Management Council, Ernst & Young, State Street Corporation and Warburg Pincus.

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