Mind Trust gives Tindley network consulting, recruitment help

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Indianapolis’ cash-strapped homegrown charter school network Tindley Accelerated Schools is getting a boost from one of the city’s most ardent school choice supporters.

The Mind Trust is paying for a national consultant to do a “deep dive” of the network’s strengths and weaknesses through an organizational audit. It is also providing “very modest” resources to help Tindley recruit students in the hopes of the network avoiding another revenue shortfall.

“Obviously, we want to see them weather this challenging time successfully,” said Mind Trust CEO David Harris. “They do great things for kids in our community.”

IBJ previously reported that Tindley was having financial problems, mainly because of an enrollment gap that kept it from meeting revenue goals. In 2015, the network met only 75 percent of its enrollment goal, creating a $2.8 million hole.

Harris said the Mind Trust has provided the equivalent of between $70,000 and $80,000 in support to Tindley.

“The word has gotten out that we’ve got our arms around this,” Tindley board member Mark Bruin said at a June 8 board meeting. “I find it encouraging that people are now reaching out to see how they can help.”

The Mind Trust has long been a supporter of Tindley schools. Back in 2013, it gave the Tindley network $250,000 to launch Tindley Collegiate Academy middle school.

The charter network has been trying to stabilize following a challenging year.

Former chancellor and CEO Marcus Robinson resigned from his position at Tindley in February after coming under scrutiny for some lavish personal spending that he charged to Tindley credit cards. Robinson said at the time he was leaving to concentrate on finishing his doctorate degree.

Kelli Marshall, a former Tindley principal, has been serving as chancellor and CEO in the interim.

Board members said in June it would wait to engage in a national search for a new chancellor until it got back the results of the audit and had a better idea of the type of leader it would need going forward.

Waiting is “absolutely the right decision,” Harris said.

“They’re going to be in a much better spot once they’ve weathered some of these challenges, which I think they will,” Harris said. “We’re investing in them because we think they’re good.”

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