As students head back to school for the 2017-2018 school year, some schools are still struggling to fill classrooms.

Cleveland’s Breakthrough Schools network is made up of 11 schools spread out across the city, offering an alternative for students in the area. And while the schools outperform Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s test scores, the schools aren’t filled.

Why? A spokesperson for Breakthrough says people simply don’t know they exist in some areas.

Ricardo Franklin, Sr. is the principal at Citizens Leadership Academy East and says Breakthrough maintains a great relationship with CMSD. “Several of our schools are sponsored by CMSD schools. They’re responsible for keeping us in compliance and making sure that we’re doing the things that a normal, district school would be doing,” said Franklin.

A June 2017 study done by Stanford University’s Center for Research of Educational Outcomes (CREDO) lists Breakthrough Schools as the top public charter network in the state.

Franklin is a Cleveland native and enjoys the opportunity he’s been afforded working in the community that helped raise him. “Part of my childhood was growing up right in the Glenville neighborhood,” he said. “Just being inside of Breakthrough Schools and seeing some of the work that our students are putting in, and seeing the happiness from the parents and the families, makes it worthwhile.”

Franklin’s Citizen’s Leadership Academy East still has opening in K-6. But there are openings in grade levels K-8 in schools across the Breakthrough network.

If you’re interested in enrolling your child in a Breakthrough School, call (216) 367-5720 or visit

Unlike some charter school networks, Breakthrough is nonprofit, receiving some funding at the federal and state level as well donations from companies and individuals.