Breon Ramsey, Celeste Kamasa-Scott, Brittany Hurd and Lewis Allen

The 12th annual Breakthrough Bash, to benefit Breakthrough Public Schools, provided “a future so bright” that attendees were encouraged to “wear shades!” Nearly 900 people attended the “Bash” held at the Hilton Downtown Cleveland, and through their generosity, more than $170,000 was raised in that night’s paddle raise donation countdown, along with thousands more in the various auctions simultaneously taking place.
Breakthrough Public Schools, a Cleveland-based charter school network which now includes 3,100 current scholars in grades K-8, was the recipient of the bash’s fundraising, hosted by the Friends of Breakthrough Schools. Friends of Breakthrough is a nonprofit development and advocacy organization which works to close the gap in

Larry and Christine Orwin

public funding to build high-quality public school options for all children in Cleveland.
The Bash’s honorees, Jane and Jon Outcalt, have donated $1 million to the Breakthrough Schools, and were lauded for their generosity and belief in the charter schools’ mission “to make quality education an option for every child in Cleveland, and help them to be successful in life.”
Mrs. Outcalt, who served on the Breakthrough Board from 2011-2020, is a longtime supporter of urban education. Earlier in her life, she used her family minivan to pick up students in the inner city and bring them to a program where they learned about growing food and gardening. The Outcalt’s three sons, and their wives, now continue the

Jane and Jon Outcalt

philanthropic work of their parents.
In a video created by Laura Paglin, alumni Josh Woolrdige shared his story of how Breakthrough Schools provided a safe place for him to go to school, and through its educational support network, a scholarship to Ohio Northern University, where he earned his Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree. “I am here tonight to say the Breakthrough program works, and to say thank you, thank you, thank you to Breakthrough,” said Dr. Woolridge.
Dr. Woolridge explained that growing up in Cleveland, his family had struggled financially, and his parents worked as many as five jobs at a time. He shared that he had been stabbed on his way home from school when he was in fifth grade. He said he and his family decided he should

John Zitzner

try Breakthrough’s charter school option, and “it changed my life.”
During the event, which was co-chaired by Mike and Renee de Windt and Free Foutz, the auction took on an exciting turn. Chris Hodgson, president of Driftwood Group, offered a full- course dinner for 10 prepared by him in the winning bidder’s home. At first there were auction bids of $5,000. But when Mr. Hodgson upped that number to a dinner for 20 people, the bids went up exponentially. Then he offered the dinner for $15,000 per bidder to all four bidders who were bidding in the final moments of the auction. All four accepted resulting in Mr. Hodgson raising $60,000 more for Breakthrough.
John Zitzner, president of Friends of Breakthrough Schools, served as the high-energy emcee of the event, decked out in colorful sports jackets, and often “planking” on the floor to encourage higher bids. Students Jeremiah and Shaniah Triplett served as junior emcees for the night, impressing the crowd with their stage presence.
According to Brittany Hurd, director of Breakthrough’s alumni program called Beyond Breakthrough, monies raised at the event will support playground and courtyard improvements at the elementary schools as well as Beyond Breakthrough alumni initiatives. She said alumni programs help their students who attend as many as 80 different high schools in the area after their K-8 Breakthrough education, as well as their alumni in college and in their early careers.
True winners of the night were the thousands of students who attend Breakthrough’s five charter school campuses; Citizens Glenville, Citizens Southeast, Preps Cliffs, Preps Willard and Preps Woodland Hills.
For more information about donating to Friends of Breakthrough Schools, visit STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY