The Power of Partnerships:
Exploring How a Partnership with BellXcel Influences Systems Changes

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BellXcel is a national nonprofit organization with nearly 30 years’ experience empowering its youth development and school partners as they provide high-quality, evidence-based afterschool and summer learning programs. BellXcel and its partners have strengthened the capacity of over 20,000 educators to serve over 300,000 K-8th grade scholars in 36 states and counting.

Over the past few years, BellXcel has transformed its business model from a direct-service approach toward a flexible partnership model. Local youth development and school partners customize and deliver high-quality programming to meet the unique needs of their community by utilizing BellXcel’s proven strategies, resources, tools, personalized coaching and content – its technical assistance approach.

This business model transformation shifted how BellXcel thinks about the impact of its work. While BellXcel still measures the impact of partners’ afterschool and summer programs on participating youth, families and educators–it is increasingly interested in exploring the potential effect of this shift on the organizational practices, policies, relationships and systems of its partners.

In 2021, BellXcel commissioned the Sperling Center for Research and Innovation (SCRI) to study the potential effects of its partnership model on its partners’ internal systems (for example, practices, policies, operations) and external community ecosystems (relationships, power dynamics, funding). While this exploratory study was on a small qualitative scale, the ultimate goal is to develop a multi-year research strategy to understand and capture the impact and influence BellXcel has on its partners. This longerterm study will include developing a robust logic model and rigorous measurement strategies.

SCRI engaged existing BellXcel summer partners to explore the extent to which their partnership with BellXcel influenced their respective organizations. Designed to gather baseline data, the study identified possible mechanics or levers for how the impact happened. Additionally, the insights will inform future research and measurement efforts.

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About SCRI

The Sperling Center for Research and Innovation (SCRI) is part of BellXcel, a national nonprofit with nearly 30 years’ experience innovating educational solutions rooted in evidence. Drawing on decades of firsthand implementation experience and a culture of continuous improvement, SCRI bridges the research to practice to policy gap, to help partners strengthen goals, implement high-quality practices, expand to reach more young people, and advocate for improved policies.

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