IDEA Public Schools Announces the 2018-19 Class of Charter School Leaders for Scaling Up Institute

RIO GRANDE VALLEY (December 19, 2018) – Today, IDEA Public Schools announced the cohort of the highly selective Scaling Up Institute. These six nationally-renowned charter management organizations will learn and apply leadership and management strategies while working to solve a mission-critical challenge facing their organization in an effort to serve more students and strengthen the collective charter school system. 

The genesis of the Scaling Up Institute came from IDEA Public Schools leadership, who believe that every child, regardless of income level, race, or other identity marker, should have access to a world-class education that prepares them for success in life and citizenship. IDEA opened its doors in 2000 in the Rio Grande Valley and now serves nearly 45,000 students in 79 schools. The burgeoning organization is on track to serve more than 100,000 students by 2022. And as IDEA continues to blossom, so have the academic performances of its students.

“As IDEA continues to grow in quality and size, we want to help our peers do the same. This is why the Scaling Up Institute initiative came to life,” says Tom Torkelson, IDEA Public Schools Founder, CEO and co-leader of the Institute. “By sharing best practices amongst charter school leaders and accelerating executive leadership teams, we can improve charter school processes and in turn, provide an unparalleled education and experience for our students. As we attempt to drive innovation in the education sector and eliminate bureaucracy and red tape, we’re excited to partner with these organizations who are driving innovation in their communities.”

The Institute is a six-month cohort experience primarily designed to serve charter school operators looking to expand to additional sites and/or regions and welcomes public entities working to expand opportunities for economically disadvantaged children and communities. Tom Torkelson will lead the Institute along with: JoAnn Gama, IDEA’s co-founder, president, and superintendent; Ryan Smith, IDEA’s Chief of Staff; and other senior leaders from IDEA who will facilitate and coach teams throughout the course of the institute. The first of the three multi-day workshops is January 16-18, 2019 in Austin, Texas.

The 2018-19 Scaling Up Institute organizations and team leaders are:

    • Collegiate Academies, Benjamin Marcovitz, CEO (New Orleans, LA)
    • Ednovate, Oliver Sicat, CEO (Los Angeles, CA)
    • Friendship Public Charter School, Patricia Brantley, CEO (Washington D.C.)
    • Green Dot Public Schools, Chad Soleo, Interim CEO (Los Angeles, CA)
    • KIPP NYC, Alicia Johnson, President & COO, and Jim Manly, Superintendent (New York, NY)
    • Phalen Leadership Academies, Earl Martin Phalen, CEO (Indianapolis, IN)

To access bios and photos of the members, click here. For more information, please e-mail


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