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Mind Trust gets $125K donation to bolster IPS fellowships

F-rated School 103 became a Phalen Leadership Academy-managed school this year, and is the hub of a new community partnership on the East side.
F-rated School 103 became a Phalen Leadership Academy-managed school this year, launching a new "innovation school network" in IPS.
Scott Elliott

The Mind Trust’s $100,000 fellowship program aimed at helping educators develop ideas to overhaul struggling schools within Indianapolis Public Schools is getting a funding boost from a local foundation.

The Glick Fund announced last week a gift to The Mind Trust of $125,000 to help the education advocacy group recruit and support educators with creative ideas who could become future school leaders.

The Mind Trust planned to launch nine “innovation network” schools in IPS over three years. The schools would be independently run, like charter schools, but technically part of the IPS school district.

So far, The Mind Trust has awarded six fellowships. Today, only four of the ideas remain viable. Two fellowship winners, who had plans to create a public boarding school and an entrepreneurship-focused middle school, have dropped out of the program.

And Phalen Leadership Academy founder Earl Phalen announced earlier this month that his co-winner Marlon Llewellyn will no longer lead School 103 as principal this fall. School 103 will be the first innovation network school run by an outside group under contract with IPS.

Spokesman Steve Campbell said the organization still plans to create nine overhauled IPS schools, but he said it could take longer than planned. The next round of applications will open up later this year.

“It’s our intention to get them all done,” Campbell said. “That’s still the goal. The quality of the applicants will still be the determining factor.”

The Glick Fund’s contribution will support national recruitment efforts, expert coaching for fellows and community engagement support for each of the schools. It will not be used to support a specific fellow’s salary. The Mind Trust pays each of the fellows $100,000 over a year or two to develop their ideas for new strategies to improve low-scoring schools.

“The Mind Trust will use this award to directly support educators and entrepreneurs who are designing and launching groundbreaking schools in Indianapolis and giving students and families even more educational opportunities,” said David Harris, CEO of The Mind Trust.

Harris said the group was having trouble recruiting for the fellowship after news spread that the IPS school board initially voted down the first fellowship winner’s school. New school board members overturned the decision shortly after, making way for IPS’s first “innovation network” school.

Phalen and his partner Llewellyn won fellowships in The Mind Trust’s first round and were chosen to try their ideas to improve test scores at long-struggling School 103. Like the charter school, the school will use “blended learning,” which includes a mix of teacher-led learning and computer lessons.

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