Concept Schools (Concept) was founded by small group of Turkish American educators in 1999 in Ohio. The group included our current CEO and Vice President, Sedat Duman and Salim Ucan respectively. This group was led by Dr. Ehat Ercanli, a computer engineering professor at Case Western University back then.

The state of Ohio had just passed a law to allow charter schools in the state. Dr. Ehat Ercanli and his team perceived this as an opportunity to make a difference in education and to contribute to the communities in which they lived. They developed an auspicious school design upon extensive research of the American education system consolidated with best practices from their own educational backgrounds. Their proposal was taken well by the Ohio State Board of Education and approved immediately. They submitted one proposal to open a charter school in Cleveland. Impressed by the proposal and the school model, state of Ohio officials asked them to open one more school in Columbus, Ohio that year, 1999.

Horizon Science Academy Cleveland High School, founded in 1999.


In a keynote speech to Concept-managed board members, Joe Graba (Senior Policy Fellow, Hamline University/Founder,  Education Evolving) identified the success of Horizon Science Academies as founders having “no preconceived beliefs about urban children and education.” Graba noted that “due to their background [founders of Horizon Science Academies] had no concept of low expectations from minority and underprivileged students and therefore, rejected the idea that only certain students can learn. [The founders] believed in their students and that they ALL can be successful. This belief system made a big difference…”

Joe Graba was right. Founders of Horizon Science Academies expected excellence from all of their students -not just from the ones with strong academic backgrounds. Their model supported the students who needed additional assistance through after-school help, Saturday classes, and summer and winter programs. The result? Their students progressed profoundly. For five years they operated only two schools. Through state test scores, attendance, and graduation and college acceptance rates, these schools established a quality reputation of an effective learning environment in a short time. That is when sponsors approached the founders with the idea of replicating the model and reaching out to greater numbers of students and parents in Ohio. Soon after, Concept Schools began to replicate and grow.

Students at Horizon Science Academy Columbus

With the growth and success of the charter schools, the founders envisioned a new organization to provide office and management support to the schools as they grew. They also wanted to leverage the success of the current schools to open new ones. Therefore, in 2002 they founded Concept Schools as the management organization of the growing, successful network of schools.

 Concept Schools growth chart    

Concept Schools grew to manage 27 charter schools in seven different states: Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. All the schools implement the same model, which is college prep focusing on math, science, and technology in an environment with high standards and expectations. All of our schools reside in urban settings, and all schools have a 100% college acceptance rate. In our schools, populations of students who come from economically disadvantaged families vary from 60% to 99%, while 80% of their graduates are first college generations in their families.

Concept’s story is a living example of how dreams may come true. . . not only the dreams of a few Turkish American educators, but also many students, parents and teachers who currently are a part of the Concept community.

Concept Annual Conference attended by more than 800 teachers who work at Concept managed schools.