January 19, 2021
INDIANAPOLIS — The Mind Trust (TMT) and United Way of Central Indiana (UWCI) today announced a joint investment of $500,000 to launch a community-based initiative to accelerate learning for Marion County students this summer. The initiative will focus on Indianapolis’ highest need neighborhoods and will build on existing efforts, such as The Mind Trust’s Community Learning Sites, and United Way’s long-standing partnerships with youth-serving community organizations to mitigate learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“United Way of Central Indiana has long promoted quality education for children today as a critical foundation for economic opportunity tomorrow,” said Ann Murtlow, president and CEO of UWCI. “We are delighted to work alongside The Mind Trust to launch this effort as part of our Family Opportunity strategy and to partner with community-based organizations and education leaders to address pandemic-related learning loss that threatens to derail the near-term educational progress of kids in the most challenged and diverse parts of our city.”
“The Mind Trust is proud to partner with United Way of Central Indiana to launch this important community-based initiative to address learning loss for students in Marion County,” said Brandon Brown. “We are excited to collaborate with schools, districts, nonprofit organizations, and other community partners to once again show that our city can come together to solve big challenges. We believe this initiative can have a lasting impact on student learning in our city, and we are eager to work with a broad spectrum of partners to bring high-quality summer support to Indianapolis students.”
TMT and UWCI will hire a full-time summer learning initiative director, who will work to develop a strategic framework, cultivate partnerships, manage program execution, and measure program outcomes. The director will work with TMT and UWCI to determine the best method to evaluate the effectiveness of the initiative, likely with a pre- and post-assessment. A community-facing report will be released to share the program’s results.
Similar to Community Learning Sites, the goal of this initiative is to provide high-quality summer learning programming to students at no cost to their families. Intentional focus will be given to reaching the city’s most marginalized students and to create partnerships in neighborhoods with the greatest need. The initiative will complement work already happening in Indianapolis schools and will provide extra capacity and resources during a time when schools and educators are being asked to do more than ever.
UWCI and TMT will each contribute $250,000 to launch the planning phase of the initiative. UWCI will be the fiscal agent for the initiative and, alongside TMT, will convene education partners to participate in the execution of the programs. TMT will ensure effective, high-quality instruction practices and curriculum are utilized and support connections with Marion County schools and districts. We anticipate working with additional community partners that can help provide instructors, like teacher prep programs and schools of education. Along with the initial financial commitment, TMT and UWCI will seek additional funding opportunities to ensure that our children can recover from pandemic driven learning loss.
A bill in the Indiana state legislature could significantly affect the sustainability and impact of this initiative and similar programs statewide. If passed, House Bill 1008 would establish a $150 million fund, administered by the Indiana Department of Education, to provide resources to community-based approaches to combat student learning loss across the state of Indiana. Funds would be available to a broad range of potential collaborative partners including: schools, districts, community-based organizations, philanthropic organizations, and institutions of higher education.
An October 2020 study from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes estimated Indiana students lost an average of 129 days of learning for reading and 209 days of learning for math in the 2019-2020 school year. A June 2020 study from McKinsey found that Black, Latino and students from low-income households are at a higher risk of not receiving remote instruction of average or above-average quality. This results in an estimated average learning loss of 6 months for white students, 10.3 months for Black students, 9.2 months for Latino students, and 12.4 months for low-income students.
About The Mind Trust
The Mind Trust is an Indianapolis-based education nonprofit that works to build a system of schools that gives every student in Indianapolis, no exceptions, access to a high-quality education. The Mind Trust does this by building a supportive environment for schools through policy and community engagement, empowering talented, diverse educators to launch new schools, and providing existing schools with the support they need to hire world-class talent and achieve excellence. Since 2006, The Mind Trust has supported the launch of 38 schools, 14 education nonprofit organizations, and has helped place more than 1,600 teachers and school leaders in Indianapolis classrooms. More information can be found at themindtrust.org.
About United Way of Central Indiana: United Way is a community of donors, advocates, volunteers, and partners who fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community. United Way invites all members of our community to LIVE UNITED by giving, advocating and volunteering to improve lives in Central Indiana. Visit www.uwci.org to learn more.
Jessica DiSanto | Senior Director of Communications at United Way of Central Indiana
Bryn Eudy | Vox Global