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Jones ’87 Leads Partnership to Improve Education in Indianapolis

SEDGRICK WHITE ’21 | STAFF WRITER •

An Indianapolis native, Dean Steven Jones ‘87 is proud to be recently elected to the Board of Directors for The Mind Trust. “I was delighted to find that I had been elected to serve,” said Dean Jones. The Mind Trust is a non-profit Indianapolis based organization created to provide access to high quality education for the children of Indianapolis. Founded in 2006, David Harris and former Mayor of Indianapolis, Bart Peterson, created the organization after David Harris spent five years as Mayor Peterson’s charter school director. As the director, David Harris and Mayor Peterson received Harvard University’s Innovation in American Government Award. The Mind Trust is an organization determined to provide opportunities to every student in Indianapolis, with no exceptions. 

The Mind Trust’s Board of Directors is filled with influential members. Alongside Dean Jones, the CEO of the Indianapolis 500, Mark Miles, and the anchor for CBS Sunday Morning, Jane Pauley, are members of the board as well. “They have a great group of individuals,” said Dean Jones. Beyond the board of directors, The Mind Trust is an influential organization in the Indianapolis area. In 2008, the Mind Trust recruited Teach for America to Indianapolis. Subsequently, the organization partnered with the Mayor’s Office and Indiana Public Schools to launch the Innovation Network Schools. The Innovation Network Schools allows districts to restart, build, and launch schools with their own boards. Through the Innovation Network Schools, communities gain their autonomy under state law, while the financial support and services of a district school is still available. 

As a member of the Board of Directors for The Mind Trust, Dean Jones aspires to become a positive influence on the children of Indianapolis. He desires to display the possibilities that are obtainable through education to his fellow Indianapolis natives. “And now as I try to give back to other young people, and help, hopefully to some degree, set a high standard for excellence, and creating a sense of connection, when they look at, here’s a young man who grew up in Indianapolis,” Dean Jones said. It is the past which influences Dean Jones to be a passionate member of The Mind Trust. “Our family, we weren’t poor, but we weren’t rich either,” said Dean Jones. “And so, we had what we needed, but we didn’t always have what we wanted.” As a member of The Mind Trust, Dean Jones wants to expand the boundaries and possibilities for the children of Indianapolis. Through the organization, he hopes to connect with young people, and open their minds to the possibilities they are not thinking about. “As you make a connection, as you build relationships with them, you can help them understand their horizon can be a lot further out and a lot bigger than what it is,” Dean Jones said. 

Dean Jones is integral to the Wabash College campus, and he intends to continue his work at The Mind Trust. “Whenever I have the opportunity to talk with the Wabash Liberal Arts Immersion Program [WLAIP] students, I always ask how hard will you work,” said Dean Jones. “Everybody who has been accepted to the college has the ability, the question becomes how hard will you work.” Combining both his Indianapolis education and Wabash education, Dean Jones will motivate young men and women to take advantage of their resources. It is not only about having access to high-quality education, but it is about understanding the various resources the young people of Indianapolis have. 

Evidently, Dean Jones is at the correct organization. In 2018, Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found that students in Indianapolis charter and Innovation Network Schools are making strong academic gains. The Mind Trust is undoubtedly improving the Indianapolis education system, and Dean Jones intends to continue this positive influence as a board member. “As a part of this organization, I think for me personally, it is to uphold the great Wabash name,” said Dean Jones. “But then also, more importantly, think about the ways that we can enhance what it is that the board is responsible for.” Beyond the Wabash name, Dean Jones aspires to ultimately improve the chances of success for the students of Indianapolis. “I’m hopeful that we will continue to eradicate the obstacles that young people are faced with,” Dean Jones said. If The Mind Trust’s record is anything to go by, Dean Jones will fulfill his ambitions and more.