The Venture Story

Venture Academy was founded in 2011 by Jon Bacal and Verne Johnson, and joined in 2012 by Kerry Muse, who shared the belief that in the heart, mind, and soul of every young person if a genius waiting to be discovered, a passion and purpose waiting to be found. They aimed to implement a personalized learning model that closes the vast college- and career-readiness gap that confronts economically disadvantaged youth in the Twin Cities.

Since opening our doors in August 2013, we are helping grow the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders, self-propelled students who know how to imagine new opportunities, take initiative and risks, and solve problems. We call our students trailblazers, and we’re guiding their personalized learning pathways with real-time data generated by digital tools, input from teachers (learning coaches), and self-reflections.

A trailblazer’s day includes digital learning, enrichment in the arts and sciences (check out our makerspace, where trailblazers tinker, design, and build), and responsive small group coaching in literacy and math. Advanced literacy pervades all core and enrichment classes through discussion, presentation, and evidence-based writing.

Venture Academy is authorized by Innovative Quality Schools.


Venture is 1 of 20 winners of the national Next Generation Learning Challenges Wave IIIa competition to identify breakthrough school models, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
In our first year, Venture trailblazers demonstrated 1.5 years’ learning growth in reading and math.


As we grow, Venture will remain a lean startup with the agility to try, measure, learn, and iterate in rapid data-driven cycles.

As Venture expands to serve students in grades 9-12, our personalized, non-classroom-based learning model will intentionally facilitate and encourage student participation in PSEO, internships, apprenticeships and other off-site learning experiences as integral components of the regular school day. Our trailblazers will discover their unique talents and become ready for college-level learning and meaningful career pathways by the age of 16.