Schools & Students
The Mind Trust supports the launch of high-quality schools in Indianapolis through our School Leader Fellowships that provide talented school leaders the time, expertise, and support necessary to launch and lead exceptional schools. In addition, a variety of programs for schools, educators, and community organizations offer targeted, high-quality resources to transform educational outcomes.
Literacy—the ability to read and write—is the foundation for educational success and an increased quality of life. However, one in six Indiana adults read at or below a fifth-grade level. Those adults were once children in Indianapolis schools. Today, we seek to confront this challenge amid a global pandemic and ongoing systemic racism.
In 2020, The Mind Trust created the Go Farther Literacy Fund with the goal of funding solutions to help address our city’s literacy crisis and ensure all children, especially Black and Brown children, read at or above grade level. In the project’s first year, eight families and six community organizations were awarded a total of $30,000.
High-dosage tutoring is a proven, effective strategy for increasing student outcomes. In response to missed learning opportunities due to COVID-19, The Mind Trust launched a high-dosage tutoring pilot for the 2021-22 school year targeting students in grades 3-8. Nearly 50 students across three Indianapolis Innovation Network and charter schools are being served by virtual and in-person tutors on a regular basis to boost academic outcomes.
In response to COVID-19 school closures and a childcare crisis among Indianapolis families, The Mind Trust launched and supported Community Learning Sites throughout the 2020-21 school year. These sites were free to all families and offered safe, supportive environments for students to conduct eLearning, receive meals, and socialize with their peers.
Initially, 15 Community Learning Sites launched in August 2020. Over time, The Mind Trust expanded and extended site service based on family demand and the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, 50 Community Learning Sites collectively served 1,278 students at different points during the 2020-21 school year.
Growing demand for public school options
More than 31,000 students attend school in IPS, which marks the district’s largest enrollment since 2011. This enrollment growth has been driven almost exclusively by the expansion of Innovation Network Schools and comes at a time when urban school enrollment has declined nationally, particularly during the pandemic. Notably:
- IPS enrollment increased by 2.5% from the 2019-2020 to 2020-2021 school year.
- IPS enrollment has increased by 6.8% since Innovation Network Schools began operating in 2014.
- More than half of public school students within IPS boundaries attend a public charter school or IPS Innovation Network School.
- About 40% of IPS students attend an Innovation Network School in the 2021-2022 school year.
This progress clearly points to families’ desire and ability to choose the school that works best for their student.
Driving Change: Improving School Transportation
Access to school transportation can often impact whether or not a student can attend a great school. Issues like driver shortages, long bus ride times, student safety, and cost affect whether or not schools can offer transportation that meets families needs’ and ensures they can access their best fit school.
With approximately 650,000 Hoosier public school students riding yellow buses to school each day, it is time for our state to address policy and systems that can improve this service for students and families. The Mind Trust partnered with EdChoice and Institute for Quality Education to release Driving Change: How School Transportation Gives Families Power to Choose.
The report includes state policy recommendations that can help address these challenges. State policy updates would allow Indiana schools of all types more flexibility to use different vehicles types, create more efficient routes, and address chronic school bus driver shortages.
Parents like Jankia are calling for change. She has six kids attending multiple schools. Juggling transportation for school and work with one car is a challenge. Transportation plays a key role in her family’s ability to access their best-fit schools. When asked what she would say to school transportation decision-makers, she said, “Try to imagine every child on the bus is your child. When you are making decisions, imagine what you would want for your own child.”
New Schools in 2021-2022
Herron Preparatory Academy | Founded by Tenika Holden-Flynn, Charter School Fellow
Mayor-sponsored charter school serving grades K-2. Herron Preparatory Academy extends the success of Indianapolis Classical Schools’ classical, liberal arts curriculum to students in elementary and middle school grades.
Paramount Online Academy
IPS Innovation Network school serving grades K-8. Paramount Online Academy uses an integrated, research-based curriculum to maximize each child’s potential. The school is founded on the belief that every student can thrive academically.
Promise Prep | Founded by Geoff Fenelus, Innovation School Fellow
Mayor-sponsored charter school serving grades K-2. Promise Prep’s mission is to ensure all students have access to a high-quality education that enables them to become critical thinkers, have choices, capitalize on opportunities, and secure continuing economic advancement.
Schools Under Development
Launching in Fall 2022
Liberty Grove Schools | Founded by Morrise Harbour, Innovation School Fellow
Morrise Harbour will develop and lead a Liberty Grove Schools, K-8 school built on student-centered, innovative instruction, instructional staff support and development, and operational excellence.
Rooted School Indianapolis | Founded by Ma’at Lands, Charter School Fellow alumna
Ma’at Lands is the current principal at Rooted School Indianapolis. Lands will lead the addition of middle school grades to Rooted’s high school so that the school will serve students in grades 7-12.
Monarca Academy | Founded by Francisco Valdiosera, Innovation School Fellow
Francisco Valdiosera is developing Monarca Academy, a middle school anchored in an appreciation and examination of Latino culture. La Plaza will act as an anchor partner for the school starting from its launch year.
Launching in Fall 2023
Edison School of the Arts | Founded by James Hill, Innovation School Fellow
James Hill leads an Innovation School Fellow team representing Edison School of the Arts, which is working to replicate the successful model of Edison School of the Arts.
Engaged Community Schools | Founded by Brandon House, Innovation School Fellow
Brandon House is developing a K-8 school model that aims to develop students through a rigorous academic program supported by strong community partnerships and social-emotional development.
Great leaders for great schools.
The Innovation School Fellowship helps exceptional school leaders develop sustainable educational models to launch or restart schools within the Indianapolis Public School district. Fellows receive personalized coaching, resources, and training throughout the program, as well as ongoing support once schools are launched. The Mind Trust created the Innovation School Fellowship in 2014 in partnership with IPS and the Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation. Since its founding, Fellowship alumni have launched 17 Innovation Network Schools that serve more than 6,000 students.
“Three things about the Innovation School Fellowship really stood out to me: the exceptional professional development, the chance to connect with veteran leaders, and the partnership with a cohort of Fellows.” – David Spencer, Innovation School Fellow alumni and Founder and School Leader of KIPP Indy Legacy High.
During 2021, The Mind Trust partnered with Attuned Education Partners, Instruction Partners, Relay Graduate School of Education, REthinc, and multiple local subject-matter experts to hold 13 trainings that impacted 228 educators. These trainings provided educators with guidance on implementing social-emotional learning and culturally-responsive practices in their classrooms.
The Mind Trust partners with the Relay Graduate School of Education to sponsor a fellowship for Indianapolis school leaders to help them excel as instructional and cultural leaders. Since 2017, 128 Indianapolis school administrators have participated in Relay school leader fellowships with support from the Fairbanks Foundation and The Mind Trust. This one-year fellowship begins with a summer intensive and continues with four intersessions throughout the school year, focusing on Relay’s key instructional pillars:
- Observation and feedback
- Data-driven instruction
- Positive student culture of high expectations
- Adult professional development
- Instructional planning
- Aligned staff culture and strategic leadership
Launched in 2021, the Educator Assistance program provides financial assistance for Center Township teachers pursuing continuing education. The program’s goal is to eliminate the financial barrier of additional education to help Center Township teachers advance their careers and grow as professionals. The Mind Trust believes removing this barrier can support the retention of our greatest assets, our city’s educators. In June 2021, we awarded $74,618 in Educators Assistance awards for 23 Indianapolis teachers.
Many teachers must now teach math in a vastly different way than how they learned the subject in school. While “new math” is meant to help students retain concepts better, educators have not always had the necessary support to help them deliver this updated method effectively. The Mind Trust is partnering with Instruction Partners on a pilot to create scalable models for improving teacher math instruction skills to meet this need. Additionally, school leaders in the pilot are developing leadership monitoring systems and teacher supports that foster and maintain the conditions for stronger mathematics instruction and student learning.
Ultimately, The Mind Trust and Instruction Partners hope to translate the work and lessons of this pilot to other networks, schools, and districts in Indianapolis and cities across the country. The pilot includes Indianapolis public schools from three local school networks: Adelante Schools, Tindley Accelerated Schools, and Victory College Prep. We are grateful to the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation for their support to make this pilot possible.
Teach Indy launched in 2018 through a partnership with The Mind Trust, IPS, and the Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation. The mission of Teach Indy is to recruit, develop, reward, and retain more outstanding educators for Indianapolis. Teach Indy looks for teachers who want to make an impact in the lives of children, empowering them to achieve greatness both inside and outside the classroom.
Teach Indy seeks to elevate the work and lives of Indianapolis teachers by holding networking events, connecting teachers with their best-fit schools, and fostering teacher appreciation throughout the city, often in partnership with other local and national organizations like Teachers’ Treasures, Indy Eleven, the Indianapolis Colts, the Indiana Pacers, and the College Football Playoff Foundation .
In spring 2021, Teach Indy hosted its first annual Educators Conference with nearly 200 educators, leaders, and community members in attendance across three days. The conference featured a virtual hiring event with representatives from more than 20 Indianapolis schools in attendance. In addition to the virtual hiring event, the conference included an educator development day and a community day.
The Mind Trust’s Talent Innovation Fund was created to enhance talent efforts by providing local schools and education organizations the opportunity to develop innovative talent solutions focused on attracting and retaining high-quality educators. The Talent Innovation Fund looks to increase the number of high-quality instructional staff in Indianapolis classrooms, increase the quality of current instructional staff in Indianapolis classrooms, retain a higher percentage of high-quality instructional staff in Indianapolis classrooms, and increase diversity of instructional staff to better reflect student demographics.
- Adelante Schools
- BELIEVE Schools
- Education ME Foundation
- Indianapolis Public Schools
- KIPP Indy Public Schools
- Matchbook Learning at Wendell Phillips School 63
- Paramount Schools of Excellence
- Promise Prep
- Purdue Polytechnic High Schools
- Tindley Summit Academy
- Peace Learning Center
The Mind Trust continues to support Teach For America (TFA), TNTP’s Indianapolis Teaching Fellows (ITF), and Relay’s Teaching Residency as pipelines to address the teacher demand in IPS boundaries and increase the number of high-quality teachers in Indianapolis schools. TFA, ITF, and Relay placed a combined 116 first-year teachers for the 2021-22 school year, of which 39% identify as people of color.
These programs represent a consistently and highly diverse pipeline for new teachers compared to only 26.8% of IPS teachers identifying as people of color and just 7.3% of teachers statewide identifying as people of color.
The Mind Trust launched DriveIndySchools in fall 2021, a pilot project that explores a collaborative, community-driven solution to public school transportation challenges. Five schools participating in the pilot received access to efficient routing services, operational support, and bus driver recruitment and training to help meet the transportation needs of students and families.
DriveIndySchools is a partnership between The Mind Trust, 4mativ Technologies, Miller Transportation, Believe Circle City High School, Global Preparatory Academy, Invent Learning Hub, Promise Prep, and Rooted School Indianapolis.
Over the past year, The Mind Trust has partnered with the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation in Rochester, New York, to lead the recruitment and selection of a Rochester Education Fellow.
The fellow will participate in a two-year fellowship to create and build a community-centered vision for transforming Rochester’s public school systems. In September 2021, the Farash Foundation announced the selection of Dr. Shanai Lee as the Rochester Education Fellow. Dr. Lee brings over 15 years of education experience to the fellowship as she looks to address the longstanding challenges faced by public schools in Rochester.