The Sagamore Institute is an Indianapolis-based nonprofit, nonpartisan, public policy research organization–or think tank. We borrow our name from the Algonquin word sagamore, which refers to a trusted individual within the tribe to whom the chief would look for wisdom and advice on issues of public concern. It is thus our mission to research, analyze and respond to difficult issues, to serve as a meeting place for disparate groups, and to offer wise counsel for a world in progress. We were born in the spring of 2004, but have roots stretching back two decades, allowing us to blend the energy of a startup with the experience of a more seasoned organization. Our expert network of fellows provides independent and innovative research and analysis to public and private sector leaders, policy makers, practitioners, and the public.
Sagamore Institute is pleased to host the Scholarships for Education Choice (SEC) initiative. While we are also pro-public school, Sagamore Institute believes firmly in the Education Reform activities within Indiana and nationally. We were asked to become a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) in 2011 to help with the implementation of the Indiana School Scholarship Tax Credit Program for kids in grades K-12 from qualifying households that wished to send their children to a private school but could otherwise not afford to do so.
Laurel Christensen is the Director of the Scholarships for Education Choice program at Sagamore. Laurel joined Sagamore as a Research Fellow working in operations and assisting StreetSchool Network schools on their improvement processes and accreditation. After graduating from Trinity Western University with a degree in History, Laurel went to work in the corporate world in human resources and then started a family. She went on to complete her teacher certification at Calvin College and taught high school for 10 years in a school devoted to serving the needs of diverse students. While teaching she went on to earn her master’s in education from Grand Valley State University. She continued her work in education by serving as the Director of School Development for the StreetSchool Network™ and worked on the team that developed and coached schools using the Infusionomics program.
Mary Jo Hein is the Associate Director of the Scholarships for Education Choice program at Sagamore. Mary Jo was educated at Eastern Illinois University and the University of Illinois and her studies focused on Public Administration. She spent over a decade working in Illinois state government, and has also worked in an urban ministry setting. During several years at home raising a family, Mary Jo taught budget courses and did volunteer budget counseling. She volunteers each spring with a ministry that provides free tax preparation for lower income taxpayers. Mary Jo has been helping to administer the tax credit scholarship program at Sagamore since 2012.