Growing Great Schools

School Incubators for Indianapolis

The Mind Trust is committed to launching high-quality schools in Indianapolis that expand opportunities for students across the city. With the nation’s strongest charter law and the nationally unique Innovation Network School law, we believe Indianapolis is the best city in the country to open new schools.

The Mind Trust currently supports four school creation pathways.


Innovation School Fellowship

The Mind Trust created the Innovation School Fellowship in 2014 in partnership with Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and the Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation to launch Innovation Network Schools within Indy’s largest district. Fellows have the unprecedented opportunity to launch schools that have the freedoms and flexibilities of charter schools and the financial support and services of a district school, including a school building at little to no cost.

Charter School Fellowship

The Charter School Fellowship launched in 2016 to support the development and replication of high-quality charter schools in Indianapolis. These schools are fully autonomous and are accountable to their charter school authorizer for increasing student achievement. Schools launched through the Charter School Fellowship usually launch as independent charter schools, though in some cases have pursued Innovation School status with IPS.

Support & Resources

Each fellow receives one or two years salary at up to $100,000 a year, healthcare, and benefits as they develop their school model. What’s more, fellows access:

  • A supportive cohort of colleagues and fellows;
  • Opportunities to travel and engage with leaders at some of the nation’s best schools;
  • Extensive expertise and feedback on the school design and opening process;
  • Leadership training and development opportunities; and
  • A network of expert consultants and coaches.

Application & Selection

Innovation School Fellows
The Mind Trust seeks highly effective leaders, teachers, and charter operators with a proven track record of success and an entrepreneurial mindset. View our past fellows and their school models to see what experience our Fellows brought to the Fellowship and what innovations their school models feature.

Exact deadlines for the 2019 application cycle are not yet available, but Statements of Intent are due around the first week of January for consideration in the sixth cohort of Innovation School Fellows. After review, select candidates will then be invited to submit a Full Application in early February. The Mind Trust will conduct initial interviews during the second half of February.

You can preview the Statement of Intent and the Full Application, though applications must be submitted through the application portal. Fellowships are awarded in close partnership with IPS after a final interview with a selection committee of distinguished local and national education leaders.

Charter School Fellows
The Mind Trust seeks highly effective school leaders, teachers, and charter school network operators with a proven track record of success and an entrepreneurial mindset. All interested candidates are invited to submit a Statement of Intent, with select candidates invited to submit a Full Application.

Please contact Amber Audrain for more information.

Other Incubation Pathways

Educator Empowerment Awards

In partnership with IPS, The Mind Trust offers successful IPS schools the support and resources to convert their schools into Innovation Network Schools.

As the first city in the country to offer this ground-breaking opportunity to successful district schools, The Mind Trust could not be more excited to partner with great schools to support them in achieving increased autonomy to protect the fidelity of their successful educational models. View our past Award Recipients.

Support & Resources
Each school selected for an Educator Empowerment Award receives $125,000 in financial support as well as access to expert consultants and coaches, individualized leadership development plans, and the opportunity to engage with some of the nation’s best schools.

Application & Selection
Existing IPS schools can download and submit the completed application to Jamie VanDeWalle, IPS Portfolio Officer, and Kristin Grimme, Vice President of School Incubation, by August 17, 2018.

After review, select candidates will be invited to interview the week of September 3. Awards are made in close partnership with IPS after a final interview with a selection committee of distinguished local and national education leaders.

Charter School Design Challenge

Charter schools have been in existence for close to 25 years and have shown that all students can learn at high levels, even in urban areas where the challenges are most intense. The charter sector has helped drive innovation in education and has been a pioneer in expanding learning time, using technology to personalize learning, involving parents and community members in school governance, and providing wrap-around services to serve students holistically.

Despite this success, the charter sector faces future challenges: further improving student achievement; serving more students with disabilities, English language learners and other under-served populations; and building the capacity to serve the one million-plus students already on waiting lists and the millions more who deserve a high-quality education.

Charter schools will not meet these challenges by doing more of the same. Instead, the sector needs a new wave of innovation to capitalize on the enormous potential charter schools have to improve public education substantially for U.S. students.

About the Design Challenge
Through the Design Challenge, The Mind Trust seeks to create the next wave of charter schools by identifying the nation’s most innovative social entrepreneurs and encouraging them to design transformational, new charter school models that have never before been tried. We are looking for revolutionary school models and leaders who can operate financially sustainable schools with less dependence on outside philanthropy.

The Mind Trust has awarded two $250,000 grants through the Charter School Design Challenge to launch innovative, “break the mold” charter schools in Indianapolis. Supports include visits to world-class schools across the country; expert consulting on school design, school startups and management; and other consulting and research support.

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