Local | December 19, 2014

The Mind Trust unveils $5,000 incentive for nominating future school leaders

Do you know someone with a good idea who’d love to turn around a troubled school in Indianapolis?

Nominating them for a school leadership fellowship could net you $5,000.

The Indianapolis-based education advocacy group The Mind Trust, which runs a school innovation incubator program in conjunction with Indianapolis Public Schools, announced Wednesday the launch of a new incentive program with the cash incentive for people whose nominees are eventually selected by the organization for its $100,000 innovation school fellowship program.

The Mind Trust President David Harris said the goal is to catch the attention of people who may know great leaders but who aren’t being otherwise reached. A similar effort has been employed by KIPP, a national charter school group.

“Our experience with all three of our incubators is that virtually all people apply within the last few hours before the deadline,” Harris said. “So we don’t know how many people will apply this year or who. We saw that KIPP offered a similar incentive, and we thought, if there is any chance it could produce a high quality candidate, it would be worth doing. We continue to do everything we can to reach as many prospective candidates as possible.”

School leaders whose ideas are chosen by the district use IPS resources to run their schools but operate independently, outside of the teacher’s union agreement. They receive up to two years of planning time to launch and develop their ideas and receive help from The Mind Trust along the way.

The first year of the fellowship program got off to a rocky start with some IPS school board members, who resisted the idea because of the selection process used to choose the leaders. The school board defeated the first innovation school concept at its December meeting.

The decision to pass on Earl Phalen and Marlon Llewellyn’s idea to create a Phalen Leadership Academy within IPS may not stand, as two of the three board members who voted no lost their seats in last month’s election. Their replacements are expected to be more supportive.

Two other fellows – an intelligence analyst who hopes to create an entrepreneurship-based program and an Indianapolis Public Schools principal who envisions a boarding school concept – are still working on their ideas.