BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) is a national organization and long-time provider of afterschool and summer programming in New York City. BELL’s programs combine Common Core-aligned instruction led by certified teachers, mentorship from highly trained tutors, cultural enrichment, and civic engagement. Decades of research have shown that low-income children experience much greater learning loss over the summer months than more affluent children, which compounds the academic achievement gap each year. BELL is one of a handful of summer programs that uses a rigorously evaluated model to address this issue effectively.
BELL has developed a technical assistance (TA) model over the last few years as a strategy for scaling its impact. The TA model includes a suite of services and materials to help community-based organizations and/or schools implement BELL’s program. Partner organizations receive BELL’s curriculum, training materials and assessment tools; pre-program training for site managers, instructional coaches, and other program leadership; on-site coaching during the summer; and assessment and evaluation of both program delivery and student outcomes. The model involves a decreasing level of coaching over three years, designed to result in a “mature" BELL program that is owned and delivered by the partners with ongoing support and materials supplied by BELL. In the summer of 2016, 48 YMCA’s across the country served approximately 4,700 children in partnership with BELL, and BELL is anticipating that number will nearly double in 2017. On average, participants at BELL’s technical assistance sites gained 2 months in reading skills and 1.5 months in math—results that are commensurate with BELL’s direct service model. In New York City, BELL has developed a partnership with the Office of Community Schools (OCS) at NYC DOE to implement its technical assistance program with a cohort of elementary Community Schools. The partnership began with a pilot at three schools in 2016 and will grow to ten schools in 2017.