“100% College Bound: Fixing Urban Education Right Here in Cleveland”
About John Zitzner
- Founder, Entrepreneurship Preparatory School, Village Preparatory School
- President, Friends of E Prep Schools
John Zitzner is a successful entrepreneur whose recent work has focused on urban education and the impact that entrepreneurial thinking can have in an educational setting.
John is the Founder of Entrepreneurship Preparatory School (E Prep)- a grade 6-8 Ohio community school (aka “charter school”) located in the City of Cleveland and authorized by the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. E Prep opened in August 2006 and has successfully boosted the academic performance of the majority of its students despite the fact that 98% are minorities and 84% are low-income. E Prep is currently rated “Effective” (second highest rating) by the Ohio Department of Education, and was named a School of Promise by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction in each of the last three school years. John is also the Founder of Village Preparatory School- a grade K-5 elementary school that opened in August 2009. Both schools are modeled after other high-performing urban charter schools in cities around the country, and are characterized by high expectations and a “no excuses” attitude toward proving that all children can learn and advance to college.
More recently, John began a formal collaboration with two other high-performing Cleveland charter schools- Citizens Academy and The Intergenerational School. Together, the schools formed a management organization known as Breakthrough Charter Schools that will allow each school to operate more efficiently and will become a platform upon which each can replicate, to meet a goal of having 20 schools that serve 7000 students, by the year 2020.
As President of Friends of E Prep Schools, John oversees the fundraising, marketing and advocacy activities for E Prep and Village Prep. In July 2011 this organization will expand its reach, providing these same services to all of the schools in the Breakthrough Charter Schools network.
Prior to creating these schools, John founded E CITY (Entrepreneurship: Connecting, Inspiring, and Teaching Youth)- a nonprofit organization that provided entrepreneurship education to Cleveland high school students utilizing the curriculum of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.
John was also the founder and former President and CEO of Bradley Company, a Cleveland-based software firm that began in 1983 and was acquired by Xerox Corporation in 1998. In addition, John started three other firms from 1983-1998 that eventually became part of Bradley Company.
Awards given to John include: Finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year competition in 1991. First place in the “upstart company” category of the annual Weatherhead 100 competition in the early 1990’s. Inclusion in the Inc. 500, which recognizes the fastest growing privately held companies in America. John received the Nortech Innovation Award in 2005 for his vision for E Prep. John was also recently recognized by the Call & Post and the CVS Good Samaritan committee, as one of the most influential people in northeast Ohio.
John is a graduate of Wittenberg University, an Elder at Fairmount Presbyterian Church, and has studied nonprofit organizational management at the Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel School. He has spoken on the topic of entrepreneurship in many settings, including Milan, Italy, as part of a roundtable panel on the subject of ‘Youth Entrepreneurship and Local Development in Eastern Europe’. He is also a member of the Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy Group, organized by the Aspen Institute. John and his wife, Peg, have two sons, both of whom are successful entrepreneurs.