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  Name:   Mr. Earl Martin Phalen
Month: May 2006
Schools: Yale University -- B.A. Political Science, 1989; Harvard Law School -- J.D., 1993
Organization: BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life)
Title: Co-Founder and CEO

Earl Martin Phalen is the Co-Founder and CEO of BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), a non-profit, community-based organization dedicated to dramatically increasing the academic achievements, self-esteem and life opportunities of children living in low-income, urban communities. Earl has dedicated his life to serving the needs of children by providing after school and summer academic and social enrichment programs to help children who are performing below grade-level develop the building blocks for success in school and in life.

BELL began in 1992 as a community service project that provided mentoring and tutoring to 20 local elementary school children. Earl and a group of classmates from the Black students' association at Harvard Law School utilized their belief in the transformative power of education to introduce new opportunities to children, many of whom had never stepped foot on a college campus. Today, BELL is educating over 10,000 scholars throughout the country and has a demonstrated record of results-100% of BELL's first class of scholars has gone on to college, and for five consecutive years, 100% of BELL scholars who enter at the "failing" level advance to a higher level of proficiency by the end of the program; and last year, 81% of BELL scholars achieved "proficient" or "advanced" levels in core academic skills, compared to 30% of their peers.

As a testament to BELL's mission and the achievements of its scholars, President Clinton awarded Earl and BELL the President's Service Award for outstanding community service in 1997. In recognition of its innovative, entrepreneurial approach to creating sustainable solutions to one of our nation's greatest challenges, BELL was named one of the "top 25 organizations changing the world" by Fast Company and the Monitor Group in 2006. Most recently, BELL was cited as a model provider of summer learning opportunities in legislation presented to the legislature by Congress Senator Barack Obama. Additionally, the Johns Hopkins Center for Summer Learning presented BELL with its 2006 Excellence in Summer Learning Award. BELL is continuing to expand its programs and inform educational policies and will one day educate over 100,000 scholars throughout the country.

Through BELL, Earl Martin Phalen pursues his vision of "the innate genius within children and their tremendous potential when they are encouraged to excel." By equipping children with the belief that they can follow their dreams and the tools to make these dreams reality, BELL is shaping the next generation of Black and Latino leaders while strengthening communities and ensuring that all children are able to excel.

To learn more about BELL's mission, programs, and scholars, please visit



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