Press Releases | September 17, 2015

The Mind Trust announces grants to empower high-performing IPS school leaders to launch Innovation Network Schools

Indianapolis – The Mind Trust today announced that it will award $50,000 grants to support leaders of high-performing schools within the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) in developing plans to convert their schools into Innovation Network Schools, which empowers building-level educators to make key decisions about their schools and ensure schools retain this autonomy that is critical to success going forward.

The Educator Empowerment Grant is designed to provide school leaders with the resources to develop a comprehensive plan to convert their schools to Innovation Network School status. In addition, The Mind Trust will provide grantees with individualized support and access to local and national experts as they earn the right to convert their schools. Ultimately, each grantee will present their final conversion plans to the IPS Board of School Commissioners for final approval.

While the leader of any IPS school may apply to The Mind Trust for the Educator Empowerment Grant, the most competitive applicants will have a strong track record of results and a vision for the schools long-term success.

“Schools perform best when talented educators in those schools make decisions, but the transition to a fully autonomous Innovation Network School requires careful planning,” said David Harris, founder & CEO of The Mind Trust. “That’s why The Mind Trust created the Educator Empowerment Grant – to help ensure these innovative educators have the resources needed to design Innovation Network Schools that give them the freedom and flexibility to fully meet the specific needs of their scholars.”

Innovation Network Schools are public schools made possible by recent state laws giving IPS and other districts the authority to convert existing district schools into autonomous schools that are exempt from many IPS administrative practices and state regulations. In exchange for this autonomy, they are held to the highest academic standards.

The Mind Trust, IPS and the City of Indianapolis have been working together for the past year to launch these new schools in IPS. This partnership resulted in the Innovation School Fellowship – one of The Mind Trust’s three education incubators -, which selects prospective school leaders to receive salary, benefits, office space and technical assistance while they spend up to two years developing their school model.

“As the landscape of school choice continues to evolve, we know it’s vital to maintain unique and enriching educational environments,” said IPS Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee. “Innovation Network Schools allow creative and dedicated school leaders an opportunity to build schools you won’t find anywhere else. We’re excited to expand our Innovation School options to give our highest-performing leaders a chance to grow and further reflect the diversity of our community.”

Five Innovation Network Schools, including PLA@103 – which was incubated by The Mind Trust – opened in IPS this year. In total, IPS and The Mind Trust have plans to convert 15% of IPS’ schools (or nine schools) to Innovation Network School status over the next several years, in addition to any schools converted using the Educator Empowerment Grant. Earlier this year, four 2015 fellowships were awarded to launch three additional schools.