VentureSchool is a small-by-design charter public high school slated to open in 2018 on the northeast side of Detroit, Michigan that was created with the primary aim of giving students the opportunity to unleash their entrepreneurial potential while receiving a world-class education.
Over the course of the VentureSchool experience, students will develop the tools to see the world through an entrepreneurial lens by developing a for-profit or nonprofit venture of their very own from the ground up. At the same time, students will be immersed in a responsive, flexible, and robust academic program that maximizes relevancy and relationship-building — ultimately preparing them for success in college, a career, or wherever the future takes them. When students graduate from VentureSchool, they will walk across the stage with a diploma in-hand, as well as the mindset to transform obstacles into opportunities and problems into possibilities.
Mission & Vision
The mission of VentureSchool is to create a revolutionary new school model that prepares all students to become capable, curious, and courageous leaders, innovators, and agents of change in their community. Equipped with an entrepreneurial mindset, VentureSchool graduates will be prepared to develop innovative solutions to the challenges that affect our lives today and the world tomorrow.
Our vision is to create an unrivaled, community-rooted learning experience that leverages innovative design and student-centeredness through the lens of entrepreneurial education. With our flagship location on Detroit's east side, we hope to cement a model that can be replicated to additional campus in the city and eventually across the Midwest to create a region-wide network of young entrepreneurial thinkers ready to tackle the world greatest challenges.
This is a high school experience like no other, and we need your help to make it happen. Click here to get in touch with the VentureSchool team and let us know how you'd like to be a part of the action.
The VentureSchool leadership team is committed to unlocking doors for high school students. Helping students to open those doors by making their own choices is both a privilege and a passion for our staff. We fundamentally believe that high school students have more power, promise, and potential than many give them credit for. VentureSchool is the vehicle that will give young people the space, time, and support to create positive change in their community. Get to know the members of our team below:
Founding Head of School
Marvin English is the Founding Head of School at VentureSchool Detroit. Prior to his role at VentureSchool, Marvin was the Founding School Principal at EAGLE College Prep Fox Park Charter School in St. Louis, Missouri and a founding leader of Brilla College Prep Charter School in the South Bronx of New York City. Marvin also served as the Founding Director of Curriculum and Instruction for a nonprofit organization that worked in conjunction with Detroit Public Schools. In association with his school leadership roles, Marvin was selected to participate in the highly distinguished Ryan Fellowship school principal training and was also a participant in the Building Excellent Schools LENS Program. His experience as an educator began at a Catholic school in the Chicago suburbs and went on to include instructional roles at Achievement First Charter School in Brooklyn, New York and at Lloyd Bond Charter School on the far Southside of Chicago. Marvin holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Michigan and Master’s in Education from DePaul University. Additionally, Marvin received leadership training through the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Founder & Executive Director
Drew Schantz is Founder and Executive Director of VentureSchool, and a firm believer in the power of crazy ideas. He is passionate about giving young people the opportunity to develop their passions and unleash their full potential through entrepreneurship. Drew has extensive expertise in public relations and digital communications, community engagement, coalition-building, and youth development through work with several nonprofit organizations in the Washington, D.C. area, including Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and DC Public Schools. As a Michigan native, Drew is excited to bring VentureSchool to Detroit and empower the next generation of leaders and innovators to shape the future of the Motor City. When he's not thinking about what's next for VentureSchool, you can find Drew in the kitchen whipping up his latest culinary creation, taking a walk to admire Detroit's architectural wonders, or watching an old school thriller film. Drew holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Michigan and an M.S.Ed. in the Education Entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education. He currently resides in Detroit
Nicole Felice Lopez
Nicole Felice Lopez is a founding member of the VentureSchool team and serves as Director of Academic Innovation. She believes that the future of education lies in personalized, flexible learning environments that reflect the needs and desires of the communities they serve. Nicole’s experience working with homeless and transient youth at The Huckleberry House Youth Shelter of Columbus as well as with parents and caregivers moving from welfare to work at the YWCA Child Care Partnerships of Pittsburgh has deeply ingrained her conviction that we must first ask what communities want and then build together for a new future.
Nicole is proud to have served communities across California as a public school ELA and Theatre Arts teacher. Most recently, Nicole served as a Site Manager for Duquesne University’s Career Literacy for African American Youth program and Senior Implementation Manager for the Kaplan K12 Learning Services partnership with Pittsburgh Public Schools.
As a Pittsburgh native, Nicole grew up witnessing the power of the rebirth of the Steel City she will always call home. She is honored to now have the opportunity to bring her experience to the Motor City as it evolves and determines its own path to a new future. Nicole currently lives with her husband and three children. When she isn’t mapping out new paths for student learning, she is chasing three busy boys and trying to carve out moments for road trips. Nicole holds a B.A. in theatre arts from The Ohio State University and an M.S.Ed. in Education Entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education.
Board of Directors
VentureSchool’s Board of Directors plays an essential role in providing the strategic vision and governance for the school, hiring leaders to run the school, holding those leaders accountable for academic success, and providing financial oversight. By law, the Board of Directors will be held accountable by the authorizer, the state, the federal government, and the public to ensure that VentureSchool is operating in accordance with its original purpose and doing so in a responsible manner.
Regarded for his energetic, innovative, and conservative solutions driven leadership in politics and urban policy, Brandon Brice is a fighter for the inner-city. Brandon attributes his commitment to public service to his parents who instilled in him the importance of a quality education, hard work, dedication and service to others. Brandon has stayed true to these virtues by earning a Bachelor's in Business Administration in Business Management from Howard University, a Masters of Science in Global Affairs from Rutgers University and is completing his Master's in Business Administration from the University of Detroit-Mercy. Brandon began his career as a summer fellow with the United Nations in New York City and as an Associate with National Urban League’s Economic Opportunity Institute, fighting for financial literacy throughout the New York. Due to his determination and concern for fiscal responsibility, Brandon served as a former Republican Judicial Delegate and local State Committee member, while working on several political campaigns. In less than two years Brandon was selected to serve as the former Director of Education and African American Affairs for New Jersey Governor Chris J. Christie and later served as an Gubernatorial appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in the office of Real Estate and Financial Services. Brandon also served as a Director of Strategic Partnerships for Veterans Empowerment Organization of Georgia, a veterans advocacy group in Atlanta.
Steven Elam began his professional teaching career in Detroit, MI as a substitute teacher at a middle school in Southwest Detroit. He later became a full-time teacher at a start-up charter school on the east side of Detroit while he earned his secondary teacher certification from Saginaw Valley State University. After gaining his certification, he was recruited to help turn around a charter school in St. Louis, Missouri while he earned a Master of Secondary Educational Administration from Missouri Baptist University.
Following his time in St. Louis, Steven was recruited to become Dean of Students with DC Public Schools where he helped support the first blended learning model in Washington, DC. In 2012, Steven earned his Master of Education in Public School Building Leadership from the Teachers College at Columbia University and the following year he returned home to Detroit and served as the first School Director of Detroit Collegiate Prep at Northwestern High School. Steven’s success led to an opportunity to lead a team of educators at Southeastern High School where he leveraged community partnerships to provide opportunities for students to gain real world experiences. Steven’s work in his first year at Southeastern was honored when he won a National Principals fellowship to RELAY Graduate School in NY for the 2015-16 school year. He then went on to serve as the Academic Engagement Interventionist at Pershing High School where he implemented restorative practices to improve student outcomes as a Certified Restorative Practices trainer with the International Institute of Restorative Practices.
Steven is currently the co-host of the “Courageous Hour” a weekly radio show with Keith Williams on 1340 AM every Wednesday at 6:30PM. Steven and his wife, Carmen, are full-fledged card-carrying members of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church. Steven currently works as an educational consultant where he provides his expertise in strategic planning for academic success, cultural competency building for the classroom and school, and restorative practices training for schools and community healing.
Antoine currently serves as an IT Team Lead and Assistant Manager in IT Resource Management at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Full bio coming soon!
Jenell was born and raised on the west side of Detroit, her mother's emphasis on the importance of education propelled Jenell from tough neighborhoods to the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Jenell earned a BA and an MSW from Michigan, as well as a teacher certification through Teach for America from Oakland University. She has executed several retention programs at the University of Michigan, taught and served as a social worker in schools across Detroit, before helping to create the SAY Detroit Play Center in partnership with Mitch Albom as its first Director of Academics. Jenell continues to be a teacher, mentor, and friend to many of her former students and their siblings, who now take advantage of the programs and opportunities she has developed at SAY Detroit to help prepare them for college and life. She is also the proud mother of three-year-old twins, Adrian and Christian.
Dr. Cheryl Mason
Dr. Cheryl L. Mason is a nationally-distinguished school principal and administrator, licensed professional counselor, and an award-winning educator receiving testimonials from the United States Congress, State of Michigan Senate, Mayor of Detroit, the Detroit City Council, and the Wayne County Commissioners Offices. She is a five-time recipient of the Detroit Public Schools C.E.O/Superintendents’ Excellence Awards and has received numerous community leadership awards. In her most recent position, Dr. Mason served as the Founding Principal of the Michigan Independent Preparatory Academy (M.I.P.) located at the Blanche Kelso Bruce High School Academy housed in the Samaritan Center. The MIP program specialized in a college preparatory residential program for male students aging out of the foster care system into adulthood. The goal of MIP was based on the idea that providing a stable and safe environment for residents with caring and knowledgeable adults creates the best pathways for educational success. During the course of her career, Dr. Mason has been successful in sending over 6,000 students to postsecondary institutions. Her students and clients have been awarded over $150 million in documented grants and scholarship offers, and 22 of her students have been awarded the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship. Dr. Mason earned her doctorate, educational specialist, masters and bachelor degrees from Wayne State University. She also has a graduate certificate degree from Eastern Michigan University.
Elizabeth Mays is president and CEO of MCS Multimedia, a progressive graphic design and printing firm located in Southfield, Michigan. Since its inception in 2011, the company, under the leadership of Mays, has flourished at using today’s technology to produce superior graphic design and printing jobs for an array of industries across the region. Mays holds a bachelor’s degree in Film, Video and Media Studies, with a minor in Chemical and Paper Engineering: Graphic and Printing Science from Western Michigan University (School of Communications). Mays has been featured through a number of print and electronic media platforms such as: Detroit Free Press, Who’s Who in Black Detroit, Michigan Chronicle, WWJ News Radio 950, Detroit Black Pages, The Monitor, Entrepreneur Exchange Group, and more. She has been awarded as a 2013 Woman of Excellence by the Michigan Chronicle, honored by the Women’s Informal Network as one of “The Most Influential African American Women in Metropolitan Detroit,” and received the Leadership Excellence Award from the Detroit Recovery Project & Rolling Out Magazine. Mays is also a spring 2017 alumni of the Goldman Sach’s 10k Small Business Program, where she is credited with starting MCS Multimedia’s new magazine, Entrepreneur & Executive.
Always ready to give back, Mays is active in the community as an event and business sponsor throughout Metro Detroit. Mays is an active and supportive member of the Ferndale and Southfield Chamber of Commerce, member of the National Association of Women Business Owners, executive Board Member for Girls Destined for Greater Mentoring Group (for young girls ages 12-17), Board Leader and Artist Director for Livernois SOUP, and a dedicated member and trustee at Second Baptist Church of Detroit. Elizabeth was born, raised and still resides in Detroit.
The Advisory Board serves as a critical coalition of community champions for VentureSchool. Members of the VentureSchool Advisory Board share their gifts in service to our mission by providing our organization with their professional expertise; their diverse knowledge of constituent perspectives; their connections to local, state, national resources, colleagues or peers; their philanthropic support; or other forms of needed assistance. The Advisory Board has no governing function within the organization.
Advisory Board Expectations:
- Act annually in some significant way to support VentureSchool’s mission (e.g. expert advice, student/family outreach, participate in fundraising activities)
- Each year, make a meaningful, personal financial contribution to VentureSchool
- Allow the organization to publicize their name and participation on the Board of Advisors, list name on website, letterhead, and other communication
- Attend events such as the annual meeting and special gatherings
- Keep informed about plans, activities, and needs of the organization
We are currently in the process of building out our Advisory Board. If you or someone you know might be a good fit for this exciting opportunity to support VentureSchool, please email email@example.com.