The Education Entrepreneur Fellowship was created in 2007 as the first of The Mind Trust’s education incubators to recruit talented innovators to launch transformative non-profits and schools in Indianapolis. These initiatives have been critical to the development of Indianapolis’s education landscape and allow The Mind Trust to now foster initiatives with the potential to systemically impact the Indianapolis education ecosystem.
Successful applications will identify and aim to solve a specific barrier to parent choice and student access in Indianapolis or will systemically improve the landscape for the autonomy of high-performing schools. The Mind Trust does not fund school-based programs, education technology, or curriculum.
Currently under development, Enroll Indy will be a new nonprofit that will create a unified enrollment system in Indianapolis to provide parents with a central hub for information about various public school options and how to enroll their child in one of those schools. A unified enrollment system would streamline the school choice process for families, provide more equitable access to quality schools and increase the information available to families as they make choices about schools. Enroll Indy would include a comprehensive school chooser guide and parent engagement program, a one-stop application for families to select their school preferences and a research and advocacy effort meant to harness the data about what schools parents want and how those schools perform. Enroll Indy was founded in 2015 by Fellow Caitlin Hannon, a former Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) teacher and elected IPS board member.
Foster children are twice as likely to drop out of school as their peers, but in most states, foster care professionals do not have programs in place to monitor foster children’s educational attainment. FosterEd has injected the critical education component into the foster-care equation. FosterEd connects foster children with education advocates who provide support, train caseworkers and foster parents, and intervene with remedies to improve their school performance. Through those efforts, FosterEd has provided hundreds of local foster children with educational services and support. Foster Ed’s founder is Fellow Jesse Hahnel, who was a classroom teacher before delving into education policy as leader of the research and development team at the KIPP Foundation. Foster Ed launched in Indianapolis in 2010.
The U.S. has an urgent need to prepare students for leadership in an increasingly globalized world. Global Citizen Year (GCY) addresses this need by recruiting, training and supporting a diverse corps of emerging leaders as they work as apprentices in NGOs in developing nations during a “bridge year” between high school and college. While abroad, GCY Fellows share their experiences virtually with K-12 classrooms in the U.S., and in the final month of the program, they lead activities about their experiences in their home high schools and communities. It was founded by Harvard University MBA and Fellow Abigail Falik, who has received widespread recognition from national organizations for her work with GCY. GCY launched in Indianapolis in 2009.
In May 2014, The Mind Trust awarded its eighth Education Entrepreneur Fellowship to Mariama Shaheed, a 17-year district educator and national award-winning teacher who is starting a Spanish language immersion charter school in 2016. Shaheed’s charter school, Global Prep Academy, will serve primarily economically disadvantaged students in pre-K through eighth grades. Students will receive instruction in both Spanish and English throughout the day and will develop strong critical thinking skills through a curriculum that engages their creativity. Teachers will closely monitor student performance to ensure those who need help receive academic support and those who excel are engaged and challenged. Global Prep launches in Indianapolis in 2016.
Large numbers of Catholic schools serving disadvantaged students in inner cities across the U.S. are closing because of financial challenges. Seton Education Partners ensures that students attending Catholic schools that close continue to have access to high-quality educational options. The organization provides guidance and technical assistance to Catholic parishes, dioceses, and independent religious orders on leasing space to secular public charter schools or converting existing Catholic schools into public charter schools. Its founder, Stephanie Saroki de Garcia, came to the Education Entrepreneur Fellowship from The Philanthropy Roundtable in Washington, D.C., where she served for six years as the Director of K-12 Education Programs. Seton Education Partners launched in Indianapolis in 2010.
On average, students from low-income communities lose three months of academic gains during the summer because of limited summer learning opportunities. Summer Advantage USA reverses that trend by providing students with rigorous academic programs and enrichment opportunities such as art, music, field trips and guest speakers. Since its launch in 2009, Summer Advantage has helped more than 10,000 Indiana students gain an average of three months in reading and two months in math. The initiative was started by Fellow Earl Martin Phalen, a Harvard Law School graduate who co-founded Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL), through which he developed out-of-school programs in urban communities. Summer Advantage launched in Indianapolis in 2009.
Excellent teachers are among the most critical assets in students’ success, yet nearly half of teachers leave urban classrooms within the first three years. Teach Plus helps to retain great teachers in urban schools by training them to become education-policy advocates. The organization’s efforts also have helped to create a favorable policy climate in Indianapolis to encourage more teachers to remain in the profession. Teach Plus was founded by Fellow Celine Coggins, a former classroom teacher and Stanford University PhD who served as an advisor to the Massachusetts Department of Education Commissioner. Teach Plus launched in Indianapolis in 2009.
Members of faith-based congregations and organizations have tremendous passion for social-justice causes. The Expectations Project was launched to tap into that passion and mobilize people of faith to advocate for policies and ideas that help provide all students access to high-quality pre K-12 education. The Expectations Project was launched by Fellow Nicole Baker Fulgham, who saw the disparities in educational opportunities as a public school student in Detroit. She graduated from college and went on to receive her PhD, but saw many of her peers slip through the cracks of a broken system. Prior to launching The Expectations Project, Fulgham led Teach For America’s faith community relations initiative where she mobilized communities of faith to support Teach For America’s mission. The Expectations Project launched in Indianapolis in 2012.
In urban schools across the U.S., kids fail to reach their potential because they’re disinterested in academic coursework offered. Youth Music Exchange combats this by linking learning with student interests and increasing student motivation to achieve. Youth Music Exchange provides students in schools and after-school programs with the opportunity to create and manage their own record labels. Students learn to become better at reading, writing and math by writing and recording music, developing marketing plans, designing CD artwork, creating business plans and selling their music in the community. Fellow Michael Bitz, who served as an Honorary Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College, started the initiative. Youth Music Exchange launched in Indianapolis in 2008.