Press Releases | November 2, 2015

The Mind Trust receives $588,000 from Michael & Susan Dell Foundation to support unified enrollment, school equity efforts

Indianapolis – The Mind Trust has received a $588,000 award from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation to support Enroll Indy, a new nonprofit that will provide families with a central hub for information on public school options and how to enroll their child in one of those schools.

Last month, The Mind Trust awarded Caitlin Hannon of Indianapolis an Education Entrepreneur Fellowship to spend up to two years developing and launching Enroll Indy, which will include a school chooser guide, parent engagement program and a one-stop application for families to select school preferences.

Hannon, a former Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) board member and classroom teacher, will begin by focusing on 60 schools serving 31,000 students managed by IPS, and 39 charter schools serving 15,000 students overseen by the Mayor’s Office.

The grant also will fund two new efforts to provide more equitable access to quality schools and increase the information available to families as they make choices about schools:

The development of equity reports. Equity reports will provide parents, community stakeholders and policymakers with comparable information on schools managed by IPS and Mayor-sponsored charter schools. These reports will be modeled after the Washington, DC Equity Reports, which provide data on a variety of measures of educational equity, including attendance, discipline, student movement and academic growth. The reports show differences in these and other critical measures, including identifying disparities for certain schools and groups of students. The reports will be shared with the public through Enroll Indy, IPS, the Mayor’s Charter School office and other avenues.

A pilot of the 5Essentials School Survey. Based on more than 20 years of research by the University of Chicago, the 5Essentials survey looks at schools beyond test scores to provide meaningful information on school culture and climate. This survey measures five components that have been directly linked to academic success: effective leaders, collaborative teachers, involved families, supportive environment for students and ambitious instruction as experienced by students. Schools that are strong on at least three of the five essentials are 10 times more likely to improve student learning outcomes than schools weak on three or more. Individual school results will not be made public during the pilot phase.

A pilot survey will be administered at up to 25 Mayor-sponsored charter schools and up to 25 IPS schools.

The Mind Trust will continue its partnership with IPS and the city to advance this effort. The three began partnering together last year to create the Innovation School Fellowship, which launches new, autonomous schools within IPS.

“We are proud to partner with The Mind Trust and the city of Indianapolis in these efforts to further empower parents and assist them in making informed choices regarding their children’s education,” said IPS Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee. “Our city has a unique landscape of learning environments, and helping families find their ideal fit is an important first step toward ensuring student success in our community.”

“These initiatives will be important elements in our efforts to create educational opportunities for children in Indianapolis,” said Mayor Gregory Ballard. “Our city is on the right path when it comes to educating our youngest residents. Collaboration and a strong sense of partnership between the Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation, Indianapolis Public Schools, The Mind Trust, and many other community partners have helped us reach this point, and I am encouraged to see that collaboration continue with these three new program areas.”

“These efforts will provide Indianapolis families with meaningful information on schools, giving them access to a more equitable, transparent school choice system,” said David Harris, The Mind Trust founder & CEO. “What’s more, these systems will provide the community with unambiguous school demand data, which can help policy makers make decisions on improving the academic performance and learning environment of various schools.”