Local | March 5, 2021

2020-21 Talent Innovation Fund Awardee Highlights

Three years ago, The Mind Trust created our Talent Innovation Fund to provide local schools, school networks, and education organizations the opportunity to develop innovative talent solutions focused on attracting and retaining high-quality educators.

The Talent Innovation Fund’s goals include:

  • increasing the number of high-quality instructional staff in Indianapolis classrooms;
  • increasing the quality of current instructional staff in Indianapolis classrooms;
  • retaining a higher percentage of high-quality instructional staff in Indianapolis classrooms; and
  • increasing diversity of instructional staff to better reflect student demographics.

The Mind Trust believes there is no one way to recruit and develop great educators. Each school community has a different set of needs, history, and people to consider when developing a talent strategy. We know that educators have the most knowledge on what brought them to the classroom and what keeps them interested in their profession.

Our goal with the Talent Innovation Fund is to bring creative, locally-driven ideas that were developed in close connection with teachers and students to life. We believe investing in these sorts of ideas is a critical piece to create a more diverse, high-quality, and empowered pool of talent for Indianapolis schools.

Back in spring 2020, The Mind Trust awarded five Talent Innovation Fund investments totaling $109,000. Each of these awardees have used their funds to innovate and provide incredible opportunities for current and future educators.

Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) was awarded $29,000 to support the district’s transition from traditional compliance-driven talent work to a more strategic partnership model. The award primarily supported IPS’ talent team in attending Urban Schools Human Capital Academy (USHCA). Because of COVID-19, USHCA shifted their academy trainings to a virtual experience, which allowed the district to send a larger group of participants than previously planned. From that experience, IPS’ talent team has clarified teacher preparation options for staff alongside opening more avenues for feedback regarding retention issues and concerns.

One IPS representative shared this reflection after attending the training: “The Academy helped our team communicate about our hiring and retention practices and how we can improve in this area as a district. All of our conversations were centered around how we can support schools and principals in talent management.”

Educate ME Foundation, Inc. was awarded $25,000 to recruit and support licensure for 10 aspiring educators of color for placement in public schools in Indianapolis for the 2021-22 school year. Additionally, through the award, Educate ME Foundation is providing training for 10 educators of color through regular virtual workshops and training sessions and is in the process of recruiting and supporting placement for educators of color in local schools for the 2021-22 school year.

Promise Prep was awarded $25,000 to implement talent development and recruitment strategies as they prepare to launch a new K-2 school on the city’s Far Eastside in fall 2021. Over the past year, Promise Prep’s leadership team engaged in Just Instruction, a three-day course focused on racial equity, change management, high-quality instruction, and addressing racial bias.

To support talent recruitment, Promise Prep worked with S. Hall Consulting, an Indianapolis, black-owned Human Resources consultant, to create systems and structures to support staff hiring and onboarding. This investment will help establish Promise Prep’s human resources systems, policies, and procedures, which will have a lasting impact on the daily experience of students and staff.

Regarding this award’s impact, the Promise Prep team noted: “The Talent Innovation Fund has given us the opportunity to truly invest in our founding leadership team in a big way. Our investment has led to 100% retention of our leadership team and the creation of structures that will support the recruitment and selection of high-quality educators.”

Tindley Summit Academy was awarded $25,000 to fund the Summit Educator Ambassador Program (SEAP), a year-long teacher fellowship meant to expand and deepen educators’ abilities and impact on their individual classrooms and the wider school community. One SEAP Fellow, 6th Grade Math Teacher Tavara Tucker, is leading a school-wide effort to support student and family transitions from elementary to middle school by developing a comprehensive how-to guide for parents and is addressing the transition with her sixth grade students in the final months of their elementary career. Four Fellows, all of whom identify as people of color, are participating in the inaugural cohort of SEAP. The cohort has engaged in leadership coaching and professional development that included sessions on data analysis, community engagement, and racial equity.

Matchbook Learning at Wendell Phillips School 63 was awarded a $5,000 planning award to build community partnerships, provide equity training for staff, and explore the creation of an elementary teacher training pipeline. One of the early partnerships they’ve formed is with Elevate, an education technology company, whose software has facilitated a peer tutoring program across the school.

We are so proud of the work each organization has done to advance educator support, retention, and development in our city, especially throughout this challenging year. This year’s Talent Innovation Fund application opens on March 15th. You can preview the application prior to when it goes live and find more information at themindtrust.org/TIF. We can’t wait to see what schools and organizations will come up with this for this year’s application.