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.