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Enterprise Seeks Educational Ideas

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A new nonprofit group is hoping to attract a few enterprising fellows—literally—to Indianapolis to help tackle some of public education’s most vexing problems.

The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based organization that aims to promote education entrepreneurship in that city, and beyond, is offering two-year fellowships for up to four individuals, with an annual salary of $90,000 each.

“What we’re trying to do is provide space for promising educational entrepreneurs to develop and launch new education initiatives,” said David E. Harris, the president and chief executive officer of the Mind Trust. “We want to provide essentially an incubator.”

Mr. Harris, the former charter school director for the office of Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, cited as models for the future efforts such outfits as Teach For America, the New Teacher Project, and the Knowledge Is Power Program, or KIPP. Proposals must be aimed at helping underserved or disadvantaged public school students.

The fellows will receive $20,000 in addition to their salaries for related professional training and travel, plus benefits and space to work at the Mind Trust’s offices in Indianapolis. Applicants must submit a statement of intent to apply by Jan. 15.

“If you are a private-sector entrepreneur, you can get private capital,” Mr. Harris said. “In the social sector, there is no incentive comparable to that.”

The initial investment in the fellowship program is $900,000, with about half coming from the Englewood, Colo.-based Challenge Foundation.

Mr. Harris and Mayor Peterson founded the Mind Trust last year. It receives funding from a variety of philanthropies and from individual donors.

Frederick R. Hess, the director of education policy at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank, applauded the effort.

“There’s not a lot of mechanisms for cultivating these kinds of talented, interesting people and letting them stack the odds in their favor,” said Mr. Hess, who studies educational entrepreneurship. “None of it guarantees success, … but it will increase the likelihood.”

Vol. 27, Issue 05, Page 5

Published in Print: September 26, 2007, as Enterprise Seeks Educational Ideas

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