Claire Fiddian-Green is the President & CEO of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation.


Most of us would agree that leadership matters — whether we’re talking about the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, the mayor of a city, or the coach of a football team. Leadership certainly matters when it comes to student academic achievement in K-12 schools. A rigorous 2013 study found that “highly effective principals raise the achievement of a typical student in their schools by between two and seven months of learning in a single school year; ineffective principals lower achievement by the same amount.”

One of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation’s strategies in our Education focus area is to attract, retain and develop great talent, particularly school leaders and teachers. To support this strategy, in 2016 the Foundation awarded a three-year, $366,000 grant to The Mind Trust to provide additional training to Indianapolis leaders through the National Principals Academy.

Each year, The Mind Trust coordinates the selection of school leaders from Indianapolis to attend this one-year national program. Selected leaders must demonstrate qualities like a relentless desire to improve and openness to feedback. Through the National Principals Academy, these already great leaders are able to become even more effective. The program, operated by Relay Graduate School of Education, is in its fourth year of operation, and currently trains 400 traditional and charter public school principals from 24 states and the District of Columbia each year.

In April, with support from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation and other funders, The Mind Trust announced the selection of 14 Indianapolis educators selected to participate in Relay’s unique school leader training initiative for the 2017-2018 academic year. The Mind Trust will provide additional support for the cohort of principals to complement their experience at the National Principals Academy.

It is the Foundation’s hope that these Indianapolis school leaders will gain new skills that enable them to establish strong cultures of learning within their school buildings, provide excellent support for teachers and, ultimately, improve student achievement in Indianapolis.

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