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Indianapolis Seeking New Batch of 'Innovation School Fellows'

Fresh off of awarding its first Innovation School Fellowships—an effort to incubate strategies for transforming some of  Indianapolis' low-performing and underused schools—the Mind Trust announced that it is accepting applications for a second round of hopefuls.

The Mind Trust will accept statements of intent from would-be innovators through Jan.18, 2015. Full applications are due by March 1, 2015.

The Innovation School Fellowship is a partnership between the Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based education reform organization, the Indianapolis Public Schools, and the City of Indianapolis.

The program chooses individuals who propose innovative ideas to transform low-performing or underused schools and then supports them in developing their plans. It was made possible by the passage of Public Law 1321, which allows Indianapolis Public Schools to partner with outside organizations to create "Innovation Network Schools,"  which are independent schools that are exempted from many of the district's strictures, including the collective bargaining agreement with the teachers' union, but whose students will still be counted as IPS students.

We last wrote about the project in June, when the first group of fellows—including a turnaround specialist and a former counterterrorism analyst with the U.S. Department of State—was chosen. Two of those schools are expected to open in 2015, with the other two launching in 2016.   

Fellows take a year—or two depending on the complexity of the proposals—to refine the concept for their schools, and they receive support in design management, finance and other aspects of running a school while at the Mind Trust. They also visit high-performing schools across the country to see good practice in action. Those awarded one-year fellowships receive a $100,000 salary plus benefits while those on two-year fellowships receive $150,000.

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