Earl Phalen

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Earl Phalen

1993 Global Fellow
Founder of Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL)

Earl Phalen 1993 Global Fellow

Bold Idea 

Transform the academic acheivements, self-confidence, and life trajectories of children in under-resourced, urban communities.


BELL exists to dramatically increase the academic achievements, self-esteem, and life opportunities of children living in low-income, urban communities. BELL’s after-school and summer programs feature: Tutoring in literacy and math with research-based and multicultural curricula. Mentoring from positive adult role models to build self-esteem and respect for others. Staff of committed certified teachers and trained college-age tutors. Small-group instruction. Experiential learning through guest speakers, field trips and service projects. Support for parents to engage as advocates and facilitators of their childrens education. Rigorous evaluation for demonstrating results and continually improving program. BELL currently educates more than 8,000 scholars in 40 public school sites throughout Boston, New York City, Baltimore and Washington D.C. BELL pursues the goal that one hundred percent of their scholars achieve academic and social proficiency in their formative elementary school years. BELL scholars will graduate from high school; pursue higher education; and attain meaningful career paths.


For more than two decades, Earl Martin Phalen has led entrepreneurial ventures recognized for their innovative, effective, and scalable approaches to increasing access to high-quality out-of-school learning opportunities for all children. He is the founder of Summer Advantage U.S.A., CEO of Reach Out and Read, and co-founder and former CEO of BELL. Earl has been recognized at the BET Awards, is a Mind Trust and Ashoka Fellow, and is a three-time recipient of Fast Company’s Social Capitalist Award. In 1997, President Clinton awarded Earl the President’s Service Award for outstanding community service. He holds a BA in political science from Yale University and a JD from Harvard Law School.

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