Creating a More Vibrant City
By Miriam Acevedo Davis, The Mind Trust Board Member and President and CEO of La Plaza
Education has always been a focus at La Plaza, where I serve as President and CEO. Education is critical to our community. We continue to bear witness to disparities in college-going rates and career readiness for Latino students. Moreover, many of our neighborhood schools still need improvement. The Mind Trust has worked to address those areas and more since 2006, which is why I’ve remained such a consistent supporter and am proud to serve on the board.
The Latino community has grown exponentially since The Mind Trust was founded in 2006. We now comprise more than 30% of students enrolled across Indianapolis Public Schools. That means we need more leaders and teachers who reflect the Latino community to keep pace with this growth. I think our community is looking to The Mind Trust to continue playing a role in developing and strengthening pipelines for Latino teachers and leaders. I want to see more Latinos starting schools and becoming Fellows.
We need more leaders and teachers who reflect the Latino community.Miriam Acevedo Davis
I’m incredibly proud of a few schools and leaders who are doing their best to specifically serve Latino families with excellence. First, Global Preparatory Academy at Riverside 44 on the westside. Mariama and her team have built superlative bilingual programming that has been much appreciated by hundreds of families. And on the eastside, Phalen Leadership Academies is proving what is possible for Latino students by providing an exceptional education grounded in the basics of strong academics and a caring environment.
For what comes next, I’m excited for Monarca Academy to launch in the coming year. Francisco Valdiosera is so connected to the Latino community in Indianapolis and is developing a school built on the needs and desires of Latino families and students. His school is a great example of the growing access to choice that I believe parents should have. It shouldn’t matter what zip code a family lives in. They ought to have a range of schools available to them where they feel welcomed and supported and where their culture is embraced.
I’ve been heartened to see The Mind Trust’s deliberate focus on racial equity really take root across everything the organization does. Part of ensuring that Latino families benefit from racial equity pursuits is really taking a close look at where schools are located. Thousands of Latino families live in our Indianapolis school districts. Are those schools fully engaging their Latino neighbors?
Latino parents and students want to be full partners in educational change across our schools.Miriam Acevedo Davis
For instance, if a school needs a plumber, are they reaching out to the Latino-led plumbing company just around the corner? If a school develops a parent initiative, is there Latino parent representation in proportion to the school’s student demographics? Latino parents and students want to be full partners in educational change across our schools. I believe schools owe it to these parents to ensure their voices are prioritized.
This is why I believe so strongly in partnerships like the one between The Mind Trust and La Plaza. This partnership has been able to amplify family voice and empower families through workshops, webinars, and conversations. The Mind Trust also supported La Plaza’s Tu Futuro through a School-Community Partnership Investment. That is a critical program for supporting high school students in realizing their future goals on the eastside of Indianapolis.
Regarding The Mind Trust’s priorities, I want to reiterate something I alluded to earlier. And that is pipelines for Latino teachers and leaders. We know from good research that if you have a principal who reflects the community it can attract educators and parents who share that background. There’s a common saying in La Plaza’s high school programming: “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Teachers and leaders who look like their students lead to improved outcomes that reverberate throughout a school’s environment.
Reflecting on The Mind Trust’s first fifteen years as an organization, I don’t think it can be overstressed how important it is to have this incredible organization committed to racial equity and every year attracting national talent to work in Indianapolis. It makes me extremely proud as a Hoosier to see the kind of leadership and programs that The Mind Trust has fostered here. People typically look to the coasts for that kind of leadership, vision, and innovation. But those exciting things are happening here. The Mind Trust has contributed to the vibrancy of our city and I’m thrilled to continue playing a role in that.