Accelerating Learning

The pandemic upended the education system like nothing else in our generation. Simply returning to a pre-pandemic normal would be unacceptable. Over the past year, The Mind Trust undertook a variety of strategies and interventions to support an equitable educational recovery. This work also looked to accelerate student learning to make up for missed learning opportunities caused by COVID-19.

ILEARN + ISTEP: What the results can tell us

ILEARN results in 2021 displayed significant drops in English Language Arts (ELA) and math proficiency rates. Already low proficiency rates for students of color mean actual percentage drops were significantly larger for Black and Latino students compared to white students. For example, only half as many Black students in grades 3-8 are proficient in 2021 compared to 2019. Nonetheless, the proficiency gap between Black students and their white peers in grades 3-8 who are enrolled in charter and Innovation Network Schools is considerably lower than those same gaps in traditional public schools.

Promisingly, ISTEP+ results are clear: autonomous public schools provide strong, innovative options for high school students. While schools taking ILEARN experienced almost universal drops in proficiency, high schools in Indiana improved on 2019 ISTEP+ scores by 2.6 percentage points. Black students attending Innovation Network or charter high schools in Indianapolis are three times more likely to be proficient as compared to Black students attending direct-run IPS high schools. Notably, nine of the top 10 public high schools within IPS boundaries are Innovation Network and charter schools. Looking farther afield, across all 11 Marion County school districts, four of the seven top performing public high schools are charter and IPS Innovation Network schools.

Indy Summer Learning Labs

We partnered with United Way of Central Indiana (UWCI) for the Indy Summer Learning Labs (ISLL), which served 3,000 Marion County students at 39 school and community learning centers across Indianapolis. During June and July 2021, ISLL sites offered five weeks of daily English Language Arts and math instruction alongside fun enrichment activities. Pre- and post-program assessments aligned with Indiana learning standards showed promising results:

  • A 20 percentage point increase in basic and proficient scores of English Language Arts performance.
  • A 27 percentage point increase in basic and proficient scores of math performance.

“These findings offer a glimmer of hope after a challenging year. Being able to help close education gaps through a free, accessible program is a game-changer, and these results show that this pilot can be applied to help future generations of students.” Ann Murtlow, President and CEO of UWCI. The Mind Trust and UWCI are excited to continue this partnership to benefit students in summer 2022.

Programs & partnerships to accelerate learning

Growing public school options

The Mind Trust has supported the launch of 41 public schools in Indianapolis. In addition to the three launched in fall 2021, we are proud to have helped launch these great school options:


  • Herron Preparatory Academy
  • Paramount Online Academy
  • Promise Prep


  • BELIEVE | Circle City
  • Christel House Academy @ Manual High School
  • Cold Spring Middle School @ Marian University
  • Emma Donnan Elementary and Middle School, operated by Adelante Schools
  • Phalen Leadership Academy Louis B. Russell School 48
  • Phalen Virtual Leadership Academy
  • Rooted School Indianapolis
  • Sankofa School of Success @ Arlington Woods School 99
  • The PATH School at School 67


  • Invent Learning Hub
  • KIPP Indy Legacy High
  • Paramount Englewood
  • James and Rosemary Phalen Leadership Academy High School
  • Purdue Polytechnic High School North


  • Allegiant Preparatory Academy
  • Matchbook Learning at Wendell Phillips School 63
  • Paramount Cottage Home
  • pilotED: Bethel Park
  • SUPER School 19
  • Thrival Indy Academy
  • URBAN ACT Academy at Washington Irving School 14


  • Avondale Meadows Middle School
  • Circle City Prep
  • Edison School of the Arts 47
  • Herron-Riverside High School
  • Ignite Achievement Academy @ Elder W. Diggs School 42
  • Purdue Polytechnic High School Englewood


  • Cold Spring School @ Marian University
  • Global Preparatory Academy @ Riverside 44
  • Kindezi Academy
  • Phalen Leadership Academy @ George H. Fisher 93


  • KIPP Indy Unite Elementary
  • Phalen Leadership Academy @ Francis Scott Key School 103


  • Christel House Academy West


  • Enlace Academy
  • George and Veronica Phalen Leadership Academy
  • Christel House DORS-South

System-wide supports

To support Indianapolis schools, we recruit national nonprofit organizations to Indianapolis and support innovative ideas that become new nonprofits. We have helped build a network of 14 education nonprofits currently serving Indianapolis educators, students, and families.

National Nonprofits

  • Relay Graduate School of Education
  • Stand for Children
  • Surge Academy
  • Teach For America
  • TNTP

Local Nonprofits

  • Center for Innovation Education Solutions
  • EmpowerED Families
  • Enroll Indy
  • Foster Ed
  • Global Citizen Year
  • Seton Education Partners
  • Summer Advantage USA
  • Teach Plus
  • The Expectations Project
elementary school classroom
elementary kids raising hands

VIDEO: Schools persisting through the pandemic

The Mind Trust has launched 41 schools through our various school launch pathways since our founding. These innovative schools are leading students to transformational outcomes. We recently featured two schools—Paramount Englewood and Purdue Polytechnic High School Englewood—in a video that showcased their methods and strategies for not just improving academic outcomes, but also ensuring students’ holistic needs are taken care of. Both schools exemplify three key conditions for school-level success:

  • Transformative school leader
  • Autonomy to make decisions
  • Rigorous accountability

Watch the full video

VIDEO: Educating Through Adversity

On June 30, The Mind Trust hosted a virtual fundraising titled “Educating Through Adversity”. Numerous individual and corporate donors contributed to raising nearly $50,000 to support The Mind Trust’s mission to provide equitable education to every Indianapolis student. The event featured a panel discussion involving a student, parent, and teacher. Each panelist shared their successes and challenges related to navigating education during the pandemic and encouraged attendees to consider how lessons learned during the pandemic might impact the future of education.

Watch the live event

Francisco Valdiosera

As Indianapolis becomes more diverse, education options should also grow to meet everyone’s needs.

Francisco Valdiosera
Founder of Monarca Academy

Miriam Davis

I’ve been heartened to see The Mind Trust’s deliberate focus on racial equity take root across the organization.

Miriam Acevedo Davis
President of La Plaza

David Spencer

I hope our city will continue its partnerships with the community and prioritize the needs of students and families.

David Spencer
School Leader at KIPP Indy Legacy High

Bart Peterson

I am proud to have witnessed The Mind Trust bring the charter sector and the traditional school sector together.

Bart Peterson
Former Mayor of Indianapolis

Jim Schumacher

It’s a great honor to be involved with an organization that provides equal access to high-quality education.

Jim Schumacher
Board Chair of The Mind Trust

Shannon Williams

I’m excited for us to accelerate toward an equitable future where everyone in our city can thrive and flourish.

Shannon Williams
Executive Vice President of The Mind Trust

Brandon Brown

A growing number of schools are getting results and providing choices to our community.

Brandon Brown
CEO of The Mind Trust

Geoffrey Fenelus

Surge Academy helps people expand their leadership and learn together in accountability and connectedness.

Geoffrey Fenelus
School Leader of Promise Prep

Darius Sawyers

The Fellowship planning year was so impactful and let me hone in on what my school needed to put in place.

Darius Sawyers
Principal of Paramount Englewood

Kimberly Neal

During my time here in Indianapolis I have felt tremendous support as a school leader.

Kimberly Neal
Founder & Executive Director of BELIEVE School