Press Releases | June 23, 2012

The Mind Trust investing $2 million in first Charter School Incubator winners

The Mind Trust investing $2 million in first Charter School Incubator winners

The Mind Trust announced today the George and Veronica Phalen Leadership Academies and Christel House International as the first recipients of its $1 million Charter School Incubator awards. The Mind Trust’s $2 million investment will help launch new public charter schools in Indianapolis that will use technology to customize student instruction, help high school dropouts attain diplomas and incorporate academic rigor and social-services support to ensure low-income students excel.

Through its nationally-unique Charter School Incubator, The Mind Trust grants $1 million to teams of innovators to start or expand networks of some of the nation’s best public charter schools in Indianapolis. The Mind Trust also will provide the schools with startup support that could include identifying board members, connecting them with experts for advice or securing facilities.

“We’re thrilled that The Mind Trust’s Charter School Incubator will support Phalen Leadership Academies and Christel House in providing world-class educational opportunities for more Indianapolis students,” said David Harris, Founder and CEO of The Mind Trust, a nonprofit promoting education innovation and reform in Indianapolis. “We need more schools that prove all students, regardless of their circumstances, can succeed.”

The Phalen Leadership Academies will use its $1 million award to launch five K-8 “blended learning” schools incorporating traditional instruction and online learning in a way that has never been seen in an Indianapolis school. Phalen Leadership students will engage in classroom lectures before rotating into small group instruction, online instruction, project-based group work or individual projects – based on their learning styles and ability levels.

Earl Martin Phalen will lead the Phalen Leadership Academies, named after his parents. Phalen, who was a foster youth, is one of our nation’s most accomplished education entrepreneurs. Most recently, he launched Summer Advantage USA in Indianapolis through The Mind Trust’s Education Entrepreneur Fellowship. The schools will incorporate many elements that have made Summer Advantage successful, such as involving parents and closely tracking student performance. Summer Advantage averages two-month learning gains among low-income students who participate.

Christel House will use its $1 million award to build a five-school network that includes two types of schools: a K-12 model that replicates its Christel House Academy, which is located on Indianapolis’ south side and has produced among the best results in the state among low-income students, and another school model called Dropout Recovery Schools (DORS). The DORS will prepare former high-school dropouts for college and career success.

“The Charter School Incubator will greatly expand our thriving network of high-quality charter school options for Indianapolis children and further strengthen the city’s position as a national leader in education reform,” said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. “Providing better education options for all residents is critical to attract talented young people, families and businesses to Indianapolis.”

The Mind Trust has raised close to $5 million for the incubator, an amount that includes an unprecedented $2 million public investment from the City of Indianapolis. Other contributors include the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, Jane Pauley, who sits on The Mind Trust’s board, and Pauley’s husband, Garry Trudeau.

“Businesses are often only as strong as the communities in which they operate," said Rob Smith, president of the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation. “Indianapolis, the home of our global headquarters, faces an uncertain future if we do not dramatically improve the educational attainment of all of our city’s children. Accelerating the growth of high quality charter schools is one important element of ensuring that every child has access to an excellent education. That’s why we are supporting The Mind Trust’s Charter School Incubator with $1 million.”

The winners were selected out of a highly competitive pool of 35 teams from 18 states that applied for the first round of awards. The Mind Trust’s rigorous, four-month review process included fifteen education, finance, and school-governance experts from across the country.

Applications for the next round of awards are due November 2, 2012.

The Mind Trust is a nonprofit striving to ensure that every student in Indianapolis has the opportunity to receive an excellent education. The Mind Trust is building a network of the nation’s highest-impact education initiatives, helping to launch life-changing schools, and advancing bold plans for transforming the city’s education system. Since its founding in 2006, The Mind Trust has impacted more than 41,800 students through its work.

Model: “Blended learning” model that incorporates traditional classroom instruction with online learning and other techniques designed to meet individual student needs. Classrooms are organized in pods around computer labs, allowing students to rotate from large-group instruction into individualized tutoring, small-group project work, online learning and independent study.
Grades served: K-8
Number of schools to launch: Five; the first school will launch in 2013.
Student population: 4,500 students among five schools to be launched over the next seven years.

Model: Rigorous curriculum that includes high and clearly defined academic standards and project-based learning. The academy operates on an extended school day and school year schedule and provides students with enriching extracurricular activities, on-site mental health and social services, childcare, and health and dental care. Nearly 94 percent of Christel House Academy students receive free and reduced-price lunch, yet 83 percent of students pass the math portion of the ISTEP+ and 80 percent pass the English portion.
Grades served: K-12
Number of schools to launch: One or two. Christel House will launch one additional Christel House Academy and two Dropout Recovery Schools (see below). Christel House also plans to launch a fourth new school in 2017 but has yet to determine whether that school will be K-12 or Dropout Recovery. The first Christel House Academy expansion school will launch in 2014.
Student population: 1,500 students at scale; 750 per school.

Model: Offers students 18 and older who have dropped out of high school multiple pathways, based on needs and ability level, to obtain a diploma, prepare for college, and start a career. Some students will take online courses and engage in small-group instruction, while others will take high-school courses taught by instructors and dual-enrollment courses through Ivy Tech Community College. DORS will offer evening and weekend courses, childcare and life-skills classes to ensure students succeed.
Grades served: Adult dropouts 18 and older
Number of schools to launch: At least two. First school to open in 2012.
Student population: 600 students at scale; 300 per school.