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Sagamore Institute

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. 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 is headquartered in Indianapolis in a transformed space in the heart of Broad Ripple.



Laurel Vanden Berg has been the Director of the Scholarships for Education Choice program at Sagamore since 2014 and recently became the Managing Director of Educational Opportunities at Sagamore Institute. Her background includes 10 years of teaching high school and helping schools with improvement processes and accreditation. She also provides fundraising training for nonprofits through Sagamore’s partner Mission Increase. Laurel has her BA in History and her master’s degree in Education.


Mary Jo Hein has been working with Scholarships for Education Choice since 2012. Her work experience includes more than a decade in state government, assisting churches with stewardship education, and tutoring at the high school level. Mary Jo has a bachelor's degree in the social sciences and has done graduate work in Public Administration.

Rachel Head Shot

Rachel Houck joined our team in 2021. She has experience working in a wide range of programs including serving homeless populations in Indianapolis, working with volunteers, and analyzing and applying state healthcare policy.  Rachel has a BS in social work from Taylor University and an MSW from Indiana University.

The Sagamore Institute leadership, operations team and accounting office all play integral roles in advancing the Scholarships for Education Choice program.

We welcome your questions and comments.  Please contact us via phone, mail or email!