Lauren Sanchez Gilbert named CEO of BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), the largest evidence-based summer learning provider in the U.S.
BOSTON, Mass., July 5, 2017 -- Lauren Sanchez Gilbert, Ed.D., a former special education teacher and school administrator, and a Latina mother of a school-aged child, has been named CEO of BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), the largest evidence-based summer learning provider in the U.S., and a national leader in PK-8 out-of-school time (OST) education.
Dr. Gilbert will lead BELL's charge to eliminate the summer slide that hits underserved students far worse than their higher-income peers. An estimated 7.5 million K-8 students from underserved communities are performing significantly below grade level, and up to two-thirds of the academic achievement gap is due to lack of access to summer learning programs. To meet this demand, Dr. Gilbert will oversee the deployment of BELL's new partnership model, which strengthens the capacity of school districts and national nonprofits to deliver high-quality, measurable and sustainable academic and enrichment programs on a larger scale.
"Summer slide is a national crisis that impacts academics and economics. After all, we have a shortage of qualified adults who can contribute to the economy, and it's largely due to educational inequity," Dr. Gilbert says. "No single organization can meet this challenge alone. Through knowledge-sharing of proven practices in professional development, program management, and outcomes measurement, we help partners implement summer learning programs to transform exponentially more students into scholars."
Founded in 1992, BELL partners with school districts and national non-profits, including the YMCA of the USA, to serve 14,500 students, known as scholars, annually across the country. Dr. Gilbert has been with BELL since 2011, most recently serving as President and Chief Strategy Officer. "Lauren quickly emerged as a BELL leader because of her ability to generate a vision for how deep and broad our impact could be," says Laurene Sperling, Chair of BELL's board of directors, and President of the Sperling Family Charitable Foundation. "She has a genuine passion for transforming the lives of scholars, and for finding unique ways to enable the adults in their lives to continue to empower them on their educational journey."
Pre- and post- computer adaptive assessments show scholars achieve an average of two month gains in reading and three month gains in math. Delivered in small group settings, BELL blends rigorous literacy and math instruction with mentorship, hands-on enrichment activities, field trips, and community engagement. Dr. Gilbert describes BELL's impact as transformational for scholars, teachers, parents and schools.
"Students become scholars, which in turn, make them better peers, and classrooms more dynamic," she says. "BELL not only exposes students to an experiential learning experience; it exposes teachers to an experiential teaching experience. Teachers are change catalysts. We are seeing them translate BELL instructional strategies back into their classrooms during the regular school year, which in turn, make schools more successful."
According to 2016 survey results, 92 percent of participating teachers say BELL helped them develop professional skills and 93 percent recommend BELL's summer programs to parents. Parents become more engaged as well, with 89 percent saying BELL programs made them more involved in their child's education.
Under Dr. Gilbert's leadership, BELL will expand its research into their existing afterschool and summer learning programs to identify, evaluate and share proven practices with partners. "Disadvantaged children have access to almost nothing in the summer," says Dr. Gilbert, a mother of a 10-year-old daughter. "Every child, regardless of their family income or zip code, deserves access to high-quality education all year long, and that includes after school and summertime."
Dr. Gilbert was previously a special education teacher in her native New Mexico and an assistant superintendent in Massachusetts. She attended the highly-selective nonprofit leadership program at Harvard University, and was recently named a Results for America fellow. She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of New Mexico in Special Education, and her doctorate in Education from Boston College.
About BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life)
Founded in 1992, BELL is a national leader in evidence-based out-of-school time learning (OST) programs for PK-8 students that close the achievement gap in underserved communities. BELL partners with schools, school districts, and other youth-serving organizations to reach 14,500 students in public schools across the country through its summer and after-school programs. Visit www.experienceBELL.org for more information.