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The Mind Trust: Empowering School Leaders to Turn Visions into Reality

Project overview

After 17 years working as a public school educator, Mariama Shaheed had a vision of how to better serve local parents and families in her hometown of Indianapolis. Many of her students spoke English as a second language, and she recognized that this was a barrier to their education. Not only were their learning needs different from students whose primary language was English, the language barrier proved difficult for parents to engage in their children’s education. Mariama realized the students in her community did not have the opportunity to attend a school that met their needs.

So she sought support from The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit focused on creating a great public school for every Indianapolis student. With support from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the Mind Trust awarded Mariama an Innovation School Fellowship, and provided seed capital to offset some start-up costs to create a new school model in her community.


While this work is tough, it’s the right thing, at the right time, for the right community.

Mariama Shaheed, Global Prep Academy Principal

How it helps

Mariama dreamed of a dual-language school that would not only serve Indianapolis’s growing population of English language learners, but also neighborhood families with an interest in raising bilingual kids. Her school would connect students from diverse backgrounds, and provide them with a highly rigorous, engaging, and nurturing environment where they could learn and grow.

This vision became a reality with the launch of Global Prep Academy, (Global Prep), an Indianapolis Public Innovation School. Once an under-performing school, Global Prep is now one of the most in-demand public schools by Indianapolis families, both in the neighborhood and across the city. It is no longer in the bottom 25% of city schools, and administrators are continuing to explore ways to improve student achievement, with input from parents and community members, of course.

Through her fellowship with The Mind Trust, Mariama was able to create a learning environment that truly reflects the hopes, dreams, and needs of the families the school serves.

Foundation Project Lead