The Mind Trust

  • Education
  • 2006

Some of the most successful school-reform efforts today are driven by regional nonprofits with broad mandates to improve teaching, train principals, support school founders, and incubate launches of new charter schools (see adjoining entry on New Schools for New Orleans). Another highly successful example of such a leadership group is the Mind Trust of Indianapolis. By organizing philanthropic support, cultivating new school leaders, conducting research, and forging partnerships with organizations such as Teach For America, TNTP, College Summit, Project Lead the Way, and Stand for Children, the Mind Trust has dramatically improved the quality of education in Indianapolis and the wider Midwest. Its charter-school incubator offers $1 million grants to encourage the creation of excellent new schools, fostering both local startups and branches of top national networks like Rocketship, KIPP, and Phalen. Grants provided by the organization’s Education Entrepreneurship Fellowship are drawing innovators into the field and creating new options for regional families. The Mind Trust’s report “Creating Opportunity Schools” helped define the conversation not only regionally but also nationally on how to overhaul a creaky urban school district.

A spinoff of the group, CEE-Trust, is orchestrating similar efforts in other cities, using funding from the Carnegie Corporation and Joyce Foundation to link about three dozen inventive local foundations and nonprofits from across the country. Other major supporters of The Mind Trust include the Eli Lilly and Company, Walton Family, Gates, OneAmerica, and Richard Fairbanks foundations, and the Lilly Endowment. Individual donors and local businesses also helped the organization raise more than $35 million in its first several years, which in turn allowed the organization to aid 100,000 Indianapolis children.