At Venture Academy in Minneapolis, young people take charge of their learning in the classroom, make change in their school and world, and grow skills and opportunities for the future. Venture’s mission is building entrepreneurs by developing the independence, scholarship and leadership of young people. Venture is one of 20 winners of the national Next Generation Learning Challenges 2013 school design competition, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Venture Academy is a public charter school that serves more than 300 diverse learners in grades 6-12 from predominantly underprivileged backgrounds. Venture, learners take charge of earning through a rigorous, personalized and self-paced academic program, real-world professional internships and hands-on opportunities to take leadership, make change and practice entrepreneurship.
Recent Venture student milestones have included:
-A middle school team won a Startup Weekend EDU entrepreneurship competition as they launched a youth-friendly fundraising web platform.
-Building a statewide support network of 12 schools supporting youth leadership and voice to support school transformation.
-Selected as one of 22 American schools participating in the annual SparkHouse youth leadership gathering in Washington, D.C.
-The highest number of Latino and African-American participants in the Youth in Government program of any Minnesota school
Jon Bacal is the founder, Executive Director and student leadership coach of Venture Academy, a Minneapolis public charter middle-high school with the mission of building entrepreneurs by developing independence, scholarship and leadership that opened in 2013. Bacal also co-leads the Minnesota Learner-Centered Network, a multi-school collaborative of 12 schools supporting youth voice and leadership for school transformation.
Over the last 20 years as an education change-maker, Bacal has founded, co-founded or helped launch 30 charter schools in three states as founder and leader of SchoolStart, a nonprofit consulting firm. In addition to Venture, he served as lead founder of Twin Cities Academy in St. Paul and Hiawatha Academies in Minneapolis, and the Minneapolis Public Schools’ Office of New Schools. Bacal previously served as education advisor to the mayor of St. Paul, co-founded a peer-led active citizenship leadership training program for young adults, and taught American history to Czech student leaders active in the Velvet Revolution of 1989.