Support our scholars during these unprecedented times through our newly established Victory Fund

Equity in Education

Our latest video - was released at this year's Breakthrough BASH! Check out our scholars and the importance a high quality education has in creating positive change.

Learn Today, Lead Tomorrow

Learn Today, Lead Tomorrow - Please enjoy this story of Parice as she goes from dreaming about launching rockets to actually doing it!

The 2 1/2 Minute Video

Belief, Passion, Courage, Commitment

Breakthrough students are up for any challenge! And, our educators provide the guidance and support needed to be successful in life.

Meet Our Alumni

Follow four class of 2017 students, 6th grade through college, in these short vignettes. 

Dreams are being realized. Listen to the journey of Celeste, a Breakthrough alum, college graduate, and active Cleveland citizen!

Young Professionals


Are you a Young Professional looking to make an impact on Cleveland? 

Click here to learn about the Friends of Breakthrough Schools Young Professional group leading the charge.  Get involved today!


Join Our List

Welcome, Friends!

Friends of Breakthrough Schools is a non-profit development and advocacy organization. Friends of Breakthrough is responsible for closing the gap in public funding needed to provide quality education to thousands of children in Cleveland each year, as well as working with community, business, and political leaders to build city-wide support for high-quality public school options for all children in Cleveland.


The Semper Virens Legacy Society was established to recognize individuals who have made a long-term commitment to Breakthrough Schools and was created in concert with the recent formation of the Friends of Breakthrough Schools Legacy Fund of the Cleveland Foundation.

If you would like to learn more about legacy giving, which helps to ensure long-term financial stability through the preservation and investment of dollars for future benefit, click here or reach out to Susan Ertle at

Did You Know?

High-performing, non-profit public charter schools in Ohio only receive about 1/2 the funding of traditional district schools. 

Friends Board of Directors

Michael Cristal

Karen Long Cascio
Vice Chair

Dave Loomis
Vice Chair

Charles Lougheed
Vice Chair

Megan Mayhugh
Vice Chair

Larry Orwin
Vice Chair

Damian Thomas
Vice Chair

Jeff Berlin

Odell Coleman

Mary Herzak
At Large

Tom Rudibaugh
At Large

Chris Adams

Greg Althans

Suresh Bafna

Ed Bell

Rudy Bentlage

Matt Byrnes

Denise Carkhuff

James Carulas

Jamie Cole

Timothy Coughlin

Jeffrey Cristal

Cosmoronde Danielly

Mike de Windt

Martin Gates

Maurice Harapiak

Jim Huber

Matthew Jones

Celeste Kamasa

James Kavalec

Alex King

John King

William Koehler

Clayton Kryvicky

John LeMay

Cecil Lipscomb

Nora Loftus

David Lowman

Michael Maroon

Dan Mascaro

Lauren Miller

Brock Milstein

Laura Mimura

Linda Olejko

Richard Pace

Craig Panzica

Poppie Parish

Jolyn Parker

Mario Pena

Michelle Perez

Peter Rome

Patti Schaar

Rita Sehgal

Seku Shabazz

Diane Singer

Brian Tucker

George von Zedlitz

Sanjay Vyas

William Welsh

Lifetime Board Members

Jeanette Grasselli Brown

David Gunning

Walter Kalberer

Michael Merriman

Bridget Moreno

John Sinnenberg

Contact Us

Friends of Breakthrough Office

Phone: (216) 539-9349
3615 Superior Avenue, Suite 3103A
Cleveland OH 44114

Our Staff

John Zitzner, President
(216) 373-7801

Susan Ertle, Executive Director
(216) 373-7803

Timothy Mann, Senior Advancement Officer
(216) 373-2604

Karen Solomon, Senior Director of Annual Fund
(216) 373-2795

Katie Emerson, Director of Engagement and Donor Relations
(216) 373-2685

Samantha Sopko, Senior Director of Grants and Foundation Relations
(216) 373-2688

Kelly Berg, Director of Volunteer Relations
(216) 373-2818

Melodee McCrodden, Director of Annual Fund Operations and Stewardship
(216) 373-8760

Sara Krane, Grants Associate
(216) 539-9349

Kelly Clifford, Advancement Coordinator
(216) 373-7411