Thursday, December 04, 2008

Education Entrepeneur Fellows

In the Inbox:

-- Organization Will Invest $730,000 in Three Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs to Help Incubate Their Ideas to Transform Public Education in the Nation’s Most Under-Served Communities --

Indianapolis, IN – The Mind Trust announced today the recipients of its second class of Education Entrepreneur Fellows. The Education Entrepreneur Fellowship is a national incubator for transformative education ventures. The three fellows were selected from an applicant pool of 342 people. The Mind Trust awarded two-year Fellowships to the following three individuals to launch their respective initiatives:

Dr. Celine Coggins, formerly a middle school teacher and Research Director at the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded a Fellowship by The Mind Trust to pursue “Teach Plus,” an initiative focused on keeping excellent early career teachers in the profession. The quality of classroom teachers is the single most important factor in student achievement. Yet, Coggins argues, the profession is not organized to reward excellence, promote teacher development, or retain top performers. The mission of Teach Plus is to support the retention of high quality teachers by expanding leadership opportunities and financial incentives for those who demonstrate success in the classroom. While there are prominent initiatives bringing new talent into K-12 classrooms (e.g., Teach For America and The New Teacher Project), Teach Plus fills an important gap by targeting early career teachers who might otherwise leave the profession. To achieve its mission, Teach Plus will convene rigorously selected cohorts of early career teachers, train them to become policy advocates and then mobilize them to get reforms enacted by school districts and incorporated into teacher contracts. In recommending Coggins for The Mind Trust Fellowship, Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville observed that “Teach Plus speaks to the most significant educational challenge of our time, improving the quality of teaching by building the quality and capacity of our teaching force.” Michelle Boyers, a Harvard M.B.A. who was selected as a Broad Resident and served as the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources for the Boston Public Schools, is partnering with Coggins to develop Teach Plus. Coggins holds a Ph.D. in education policy analysis from Stanford University, an M.Ed. from Boston College and a B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross.

Ms. Abigail Falik was awarded The Mind Trust Fellowship to launch Global Citizen Year (GCY). GCY will engage thousands of diverse young Americans in a transformative “Bridge Year” of global service between high school and college. Falik, who won first prize at Harvard Business School’s 2008 Social Enterprise business pitch competition for GCY, is focused on America’s urgent need to prepare students for leadership in an increasingly globalized world. To do this, GCY will recruit and train cohorts of high-potential high school students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds as GCY fellows; support fellows through apprenticeships throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America; and build a dynamic network of alumni who remain engaged in global issues during college and beyond. During the “Bridge Year,” students will receive intensive leadership and foreign language training, complete six-month international service projects, share their experiences virtually with K-12 classrooms in America, and, during their final month, lead activities about their experience in their home high schools and communities. While GCY will prepare fellows to succeed in college, Falik also aims to use GCY to create incentives for students to graduate from high school, prepare K-12 teachers to more effectively teach about global issues, and ultimately to transform the global education landscape in the United States. GCY’s advisory council includes the founders of Teach For America, City Year, Room to Read,, and Share Our Strength, the head of the National Peace Corps Association, and the Provost of the School for International Training. Falik holds a B.A. and M.Ed. from Stanford University, and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Mr. Earl Martin Phalen, a three-time recipient of Fast Company’s Social Capitalist Awards, was awarded The Mind Trust Fellowship to create a national organization that will provide over one million elementary and middle school students living in low-income communities with research-based summer learning programs designed to produce substantial academic gains. Research shows that academic loss among students living in underresourced communities over the summer may account for more than half of the achievement gap they have with higher-income students by the end of elementary school. Phalen has spent the last 17 years developing out of school programs in urban communities through Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL), which he co-founded. Participants in BELL’s summer program gained a month’s worth of learning in just 15 days, according to a Mathematica study. Phalen will use The Mind Trust Fellowship to build a new organization that will dramatically bring to scale scientifically tested summer programs, both through company-owned branches and franchises granted to schools districts, charter schools, and nonprofits. Franchisees will receive teacher training and curriculum from Phalen’s new organization and will be held accountable through the organization’s comprehensive quality assurance program. This will be an important test of franchising as a strategy to bring successful education initiatives to scale. The Network Journal named Phalen among its “Top 40 Under 40,” profiling the country’s top black business owners and professionals. Phalen advised President-elect Obama, a law school classmate, on federal legislation (the STEP UP Act) to expand summer learning programs. President Clinton honored Phalen’s work at BELL by awarding him the President’s Service Award. Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree, Jr. noted in a letter to The Mind Trust that Phalen’s most significant characteristic is “an unyielding commitment to justice for children.” Phalen holds a J.D. from Harvard and a B.A. from Yale.

“The Education Entrepreneur Fellowship program was created to attract people with innovative approaches to transforming public education in America, and that is what we found in these three exceptionally talented leaders,” said David Harris, CEO and President of The Mind Trust. “We are serious about dramatically changing the learning opportunities for students in underserved and disadvantaged populations – not incrementally, but in truly dramatic ways. These initiatives will do just that and will positively impact the lives of students in Indianapolis and across the country.”

About The Mind Trust

The Mind Trust is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to dramatically improve public education for underserved students by empowering education entrepreneurs to develop or expand transformative education initiatives. To achieve its mission, The Mind Trust has two strategies: (1) a nationally unique Education Entrepreneur Fellowship that serves as an incubator for transformative education ventures; and (2) a Venture Fund to recruit to Indianapolis the nation’s most successful entrepreneurial education initiatives. To date, The Mind Trust has invested nearly $3 million from its Venture Fund to successfully attract Teach For America, The New Teacher Project and College Summit to Indianapolis.
I am not sure about the efficacy of the middle idea, but I really like the first idea of targeting quality teachers who might leave the profession for retention efforts. I think most studies of teacher effectiveness show that between years 2 and 5 of a teacher's career their effectiveness and skill grows rapidly and that it is important to keep them beyond year two.

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