Ontay Johnson

Ontay Johnson

The Mind Trust announced Ontay Johnson will be the organization’s newest Education Entrepreneur Fellow, which will prepare him to help launch an education nonprofit.

The year-long fellowship includes a salary, benefits and customized training, along with planning time and resources to work with another fellow, Ashley Virden, as they start EmpowerED Families, which will give Indianapolis parents the resources to advocate for changes for their students.

Former Education Entrepreneur Fellows have launched organizations such as Enroll Indy and Center for Innovative Education Solutions.

Johnson, who served as executive director of 100 Black Men of Indianapolis for seven years, has a history of developing programs for youth. Johnson is also an alumnus of the National Urban Fellows program.

Now he’ll have a full year of support and resources to help launch another effort to help students and their families.

“Having world-class experts and having folks to sort of bounce things off of, that’s critical when you think about building something,” Johnson said in an interview. “More often than not, you have situations where people want to build something great, but they’re doing it on the fly.”

Johnson grew up in Saginaw, Michigan, where nearly half of the population is Black and unemployment is currently at 20%. He can relate to families trying to navigate systems that weren’t created with the intent of helping Black people.

“I’m sure I’m going to see a lot of myself, my mom, in this work,” he said.

Johnson and Virden will launch EmpowerED Families during the summer of 2021.

“Ontay is a great leader who truly cares for the Indianapolis community,” Virden said in a press release.

Brandon Brown, CEO of The Mind Trust, called Johnson the “perfect leader” to make sure EmpowerED Families serves students and families in Indianapolis.

“Ontay’s proven track record, demonstrated ability to build and mobilize diverse coalitions, and passion for ensuring that all Indianapolis families have access to a great school makes him the ideal choice for this important role,” Brown said.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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