5 Reasons We Are Thankful for Our Partners

I’m no athlete, but I’ve gotten really good at trekking through airports in search of my next gate or a relatively healthy meal. Having just completed a five-week “Tour de Philanthropie,” visiting several of MIND Research Institute’s social impact partners from across the country, I’m feeling quite accomplished—and very grateful. Which makes this a perfect time for me to share five facts about our philanthropic partners that make them so worthy of appreciation!

1. Our Partners Love Data

A lot of organizations talk about making data-driven decisions. Our partners demonstrate this practice and push us to become industry leaders in collecting, analyzing, and sharing our data with transparency. On a recent trip to Phillips 66’s headquarters in Houston, MIND Program Manager Cory Carroll and I got to sit down with Claudia Kreisle, Director of Philanthropy and Community Engagement at Phillips 66.

We reviewed an assessment Cory had conducted of the nearly 100 schools that Phillips 66 supports across the country. Based on the data collected, Cory made recommendations on how to improve outcomes for all schools through partnership with educators, additional professional development support, and even family and community engagement opportunities. 

Claudia gave Cory and me a tour of Phillips 66's Houston headquarter’s amazing facilities.
Yes, that’s a basketball court inside of a full gym! 

2. Our Partners Are Collaborative

While still in Houston, I attended my first Community of Practice Day hosted by NewSchools Venture Fund with several of their grantees in attendance. From logic models to data evaluation to a great team walk around Hermann Park, our time together was all about sharing best practices and leveraging insights from organizations at all stages of growth and development to help increase our collective impact.  

My colleagues, Andrew Coulson, Chief Data Science Officer, and Ki Karou, Director of Product—ST Math Content, and I put our heads together with NewSchools Venture Fund partners and grantees to figure out how to measure impact and build scalable, sustainable organizations.

3. Our Partners Are Dedicated

From Houston, I continued east and joined MIND’s Co-founder and Chief Research & Development Officer Dr. Matthew Peterson. We helped our colleague, Program Manager Jessica McKenzie, host a Deeper Learning Symposium complete with a school visit, followed by an ST Math Champion Summit the next day! 

Leading up to these events and through both days packed with activity, the One8 Foundation and its Mass STEM Hub team were amazing! From content development to logistical details, our teams worked together side-by-side to give educators the best experience possible. Feeling “challenged and inspired” was how one educator described her experience as the day wrapped up. We couldn’t have done this without the smart input and unwavering support and dedication of our friends at the One8 Foundation.

Dr. Peterson shared insights from his research on the neuroscience of learning with Massachusetts educators and the One8 Foundation’s Mass STEM Hub team. We even squeezed in a quick break to say “Cheese,” with JiJi!

4. Our Partners Impact Local and Global Communities

The following week, I packed my heavy coat and braved the seven-degree weather (no, that number’s not missing a digit) to visit John Deere’s hometown in Moline, Illinois. It may have been unseasonably cold outside but inside John Deere’s Moline Technology Innovation Center, we were all fired up to hear about the impact that John Deere is making in its communities across America and throughout the world! 

I got to moderate a panel interview with educators and 4th grade students from Bicentennial Elementary of Moline-Coal Valley School District—a John Deere supported school that has experienced amazing academic and cultural growth with the help of ST Math.

Steven Etheridge, Principal of Bicentennial Elementary, Ms. Christine Watts (not pictured), 4th Grade Teacher, and three stellar students shared insights into the impact that ST Math has had on their school and learning experience. John Deere’s Pat Barnes, Program Director of Global STEM, gave us all the VIP treatment at their awe-inspiring showroom!

5. Our Partners Really Care About Our Future 

So what could be better than hanging out with three awesome 4th grade students? Learning math in the most innovative ways with with even more students! At the 2019 Automation Fair®, hosted by Rockwell Automation, in Chicago, Illinois, 19,000+ engineers, software developers, entrepreneurs, and business developers in the global automation industry had a chance to do just that!  

Rockwell Automation’s Becky House, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Blake Moret, CEO, and Patricia Contreras, Director of Global Community Relations, all took the time to see how our 3rd and 4th grade students are learning with ST Math.  

Sometimes a return on investment is not financial—it’s much more important than that. Our children are our future innovators, and their ability to solve the world’s most challenging problems is what’s at stake here. 

With high school math proficiency still lingering around 26%, we have a long way to go. Like our partners, MIND believes that every student has the potential to deeply understand, and truly love, math. That’s important because math, perseverance, and collaboration are 21st century life skills that will enable our children to become confident problem solvers. 

thanks-automation-fairChicago’s Earhart School students and educators shared their appreciation for Rockwell Automations’ support of ST Math, and the opportunity to be exposed to the latest developments in automation technology and careers in STEM.

This Thanksgiving, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to every one of our social impact partners who help us prepare students of all backgrounds for academic and career success. From individuals to foundations to corporations, support from our partners is making measurable, sustainable, and scalable impact in communities all across our beautiful country—of which I got to see a lot of these past few weeks, so now it’s time to stay home and cook some turkey!

Want to learn more about our collective impact? Take a look at everything our partners helped us to accomplish in the 2019 Annual Report.



Karin Wu

About the Author

Karin Wu is EVP & Executive Director of Social Impact at MIND Research Institute. She's building partnerships that truly transform education.


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