Community Conversations

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Community Conversations

The Mind Trust regularly engages Indianapolis leaders, stakeholders and parents in “community conversations,” which explore various topics in education and innovative ideas and programs that can help improve public education in Indianapolis and beyond.

Click here for information on our next community event.

Special Speakers

David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian

In April 2016, The Mind Trust was thrilled to welcome Pulitzer Prize ­winning historian David McCullough as the keynote speaker of our inaugural Charter School Innovation Summit. Twice winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, McCullough came to Indianapolis to discuss his book, The Wright Brothers, and the importance of innovation throughout history.

With more than 600 members of the Indianapolis community in attendance, McCullough drew parallels between the successes and failures experienced by the inventors and the work of education innovators in Indianapolis and across the country. McCullough also is the critically acclaimed author of 1776, John Adams, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, The Path between the Seas, Mornings on Horseback, Brave Companions and Truman.

Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels & Former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson 

In June 2015, The Mind Trust hosted former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson for an evening of discussion and reflections about their administrations’ work to transform public education in Indiana. They were joined by moderator Kevin Chavous, an Indianapolis native, former member of the Washington, D.C. city council and national education reform leader.

Daniels served as Indiana’s governor from 2005 to 2013. In 2011, the Fordham Institute declared Indiana “the Reformest State” because of Daniels’ ambitious education reform package. After leaving office, he continued his involvement in education when he assumed the presidency of Purdue University, where he serves today.

Peterson, who is currently senior vice president of Eli Lilly and Company, served as Indianapolis’ mayor from 2000 to 2007. During his terms in office, he championed the creation of charter schools in Indianapolis, winning Harvard University’s Innovation in American Government Award for his charter authorizing office. He also helped found The Mind Trust in 2006 and continues to serve as its founding board chair. Click here to see video from the event.

Dr. Roland Fryer, Harvard University & Dr. Michael Lomax, President & CEO, UNCF 

In October 2014, Dr. Fryer, the youngest tenured African-American professor at Harvard University, and Dr. Lomax of UNCF joined The Mind Trust in Indianapolis to discuss our nation’s critical need to close the education achievement gap, especially among African-American males.

Dr. Fryer’s message included a review of his five tenets of academic success: investing in human capital (teachers and principals), spending more time on task (longer school days and years), using data to drive instruction, committing to high-dosage tutoring and setting high expectations. Click here to see video from the event.

Condoleeza Rice, Former U.S. Secretary of State 

In September 2013, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice joined The Mind Trust at Light of the World Church to discuss education and how it currently divides the country into two groups – those with opportunities and those without them. An audience of 800 community leaders and stakeholders gathered to listen to Rice discuss the crisis in K-12 education, and how to improve it and the need for all parents to have options when it comes to their children’s education.

Dr. Howard Fuller, Black Alliance for Educational Options  
In October 2012, The Mind Trust welcomed Howard Fuller to Indianapolis to share a compelling and provocative message about the need to help all students succeed. Dr. Fuller is one of the nation’s most respected and thoughtful leaders in education, and his thought-provoking ideas have been aired in venues across the U.S., including in the critically acclaimed film Waiting for Superman. He served as superintendent of the Milwaukee Public Schools from 1991 to 1995 and is currently a distinguished professor of education and founder of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University. He also was a founder of the Black Alliance for Educational Options.

Co-hosted by the Indianapolis Urban League, 100 Black Men, School Choice Indiana, Stand for Children, La Plaza, Education Reform Now, Lacy Leadership Association and UNCF, the event attracted stakeholders from across the community to hear Dr. Fuller’s ideas and observations about public education in the U.S.

David Brooks, The New York Times

 In May 2011, David Brooks, The New York Times columnist and author, was the keynote speaker for The Mind Trust’s Grow What Works campaign. More than 800 local business, civic, political and education leaders joined The Mind Trust to listen to an address on the necessity of bringing about substantial improvement and transformation in the community’s educational record. The luncheon focused on the emergence of new innovative efforts and the need for a cultural shift when it comes to education.

Community Conversations

Community Conversation: School Finance
In March 2017, The Mind Trust and UNCF hosted a “community conversation” on the topic of “School Finance,” which engaged the local community in conversations about how schools are funded and how funding varies across school type and based on the population of students served. The topic featured conversations with educational leaders, Melissa Ambre, Joseph Heidt, Kelli Marshall, and Weston Young.

Community Conversation: Human Capital & Teacher Diversity
In January 2017, The Mind Trust and UNCF hosted a “community conversation” on the topic of “Human Capital & Teacher Diversity,” which engaged the local community in conversations about the ways local organizations are attracting and recruiting excellent teachers and school leaders of color and others from diverse backgrounds to serve in and lead local schools. The topic featured conversations with educational leaders, Dr. Kenith Britt, Sara Marshall, Amar Patel, and Joe White.

Community Conversation: Who’s Running Our Schools?

In November 2016, The Mind Trust and UNCF hosted another in a series of “community conversations” which engaged the local community in conversations around improving education in Indianapolis. The topic featured conversations with school leaders of three Innovation Network Schools within the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS).


Community Conversation: School Equity
In February 2016, The Mind Trust and UNCF hosted a “community conversation” on the topic of “School Equity,” during which community stakeholders discussed ways to ensure that every child in Indianapolis has equitable educational opportunities and experiences. Click here to see video from the event.


Community Conversation: Parent Choice 
In October 2015, The Mind Trust and UNCF engaged Indianapolis community leaders and members in a conversation about “Parent Choice,” featuring a discussion about the education choice landscape in Indianapolis and how families can navigate the sometimes complex system to access more educational opportunities for their kids. Click here to see video from the event.


Community Conversation: What Makes A Great School?

In August 2015, The Mind Trust and UNCF hosted a conversation with local education leaders to discuss the conditions, educators and practices that “make a great school” and suggestions to inject more positive academic conditions into schools across the city.

Listening Sessions

In 2013 and 2014, The Mind Trust conducted five (5) listening sessions throughout the community with faith leaders, civic leaders, educators and other community stakeholders to receive ideas, suggestions and feedback about education innovation work in Indianapolis.