Press Releases | May 5, 2015

The Mind Trust receives $2.5 million from the Walton Family Foundation to launch high-quality public schools in Indianapolis

Indianapolis – The Mind Trust has received a $2.5 million award from the Walton Family Foundation to help advance The Mind Trust’s mission of providing every Indianapolis student access to a high-quality public school.

“For the next several years, The Mind Trust will focus on supporting educators and entrepreneurs who are designing and launching innovative and groundbreaking schools in Indianapolis,” said David Harris, The Mind Trust founder & CEO. “This generous award from the Walton Family Foundation will give new choices and educational opportunities to scores of Indianapolis students and families across the city.”

“The Mind Trust is doing important work for the students and families of Indianapolis,” said Beth Bray, program officer with the Walton Family Foundation. “We are pleased to support The Mind Trust’s efforts to cultivate talented leaders, launch innovative programs and seed the development of new, high-caliber schools.”

The Mind Trust will receive the funding from the foundation over the next three years. The award will help expand two of The Mind Trust’s three education incubators:

Growing its Innovation School Fellowship. The fellowship is a partnership with the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and the City of Indianapolis to help IPS create high-quality “Innovation Network Schools” within the district. Innovation Network Schools are autonomous public schools that will operate under a contract with IPS and are exempt from IPS administrative practices and many state regulations, giving them the autonomy and accountability that are hallmarks of high-performing schools.

The Mind Trust last year welcomed two fellows, both of whom are presently developing Innovation Network Schools. One school, PLA@103, will open this fall on the city’s far eastside. Later this month, three additional fellowships will be awarded, followed by another round of fellowships in 2016. In total, the fellowship plans to launch nine Innovation Network Schools in IPS over the next three years.

Launching the next phase of the Charter School Incubator. The Mind Trust created the incubator in 2011 to launch or expand excellent charter schools in Indianapolis. Thus far, The Mind Trust has helped expand three charter networks – Tindley Accelerated Schools, KIPP-Indianapolis and Christel House – and helped launch a new charter school, the Phalen Leadership Academies.

For the second round of incubator awards, The Mind Trust will seek highly innovative education thinkers with “break-the-mold” school models that challenge conventional educational practices. Applications for the second round will be made available later this year.

In addition, the award will support general operational needs of The Mind Trust, including its aggressive community engagement efforts to ensure those most affected by education reform are engaged in conversation.

The Walton Family Foundation is dedicated to changing the trajectory of young people’s lives and helping end the poverty that plagues so many of our nation’s communities by expanding K-12 education opportunities for all students. The foundation has invested more than $1 billion to improve all types of schools-traditional district, public charter and private-and to support innovative organizations that share a common goal: to give all families the ability to choose the best school for their child, regardless of their zip code. Visit the foundation at: