Bridge Grants

Bridge grants are our largest investments and seek to bridge innovative, customer-driven solutions to wider adoption.


VELA is now accepting interest forms for its Fall 2022 Bridge grant program. Bridge grants – VELA’s largest investments, up to $250,000 – seek to bridge innovative, customer-driven solutions to wider adoption. Through its Bridge grant program, VELA expands programs led by permissionless innovators with a compelling track record and a plan to bridge their programs to wider adoption. All Bridge grant recipients must be delivering out-of-system learning models designed for unconventional learners. 

Like all of VELA’s investments, Bridge grants are rooted in a trust-basis: we trust that community-based entrepreneurs are best positioned to deliver solutions that meet the needs of families and learners in their communities. Bridge grants provide critical early capital to compelling emerging innovations, such as established organizations launching experimental out-of-system pilots, or replications of non-traditional learning models.

As Bridge grant recipients, entrepreneurs have access to our dynamic VELA community. Through a private online community, grant recipients enjoy access to collaboration and programming opportunities, and receive communications support, including media outreach and video storytelling. 

Impact Areas

In Fall 2022, VELA Bridge grants will support:

Scalable learning models

Are you an entrepreneur that has launched a learning model that is ready for broader scale? Select grants will be awarded to out-of-system delivery models scaling to a new state, new region, or new community of learners.

Pilot programs for established organizations

Are you an organization that has a core delivery model, but are looking to pilot a new, unconventional offering that is responsive to learners’ or families’ needs? Select grants will be awarded to out-of-system pilots for established organizations.

Ecosystem builders

Are you an entrepreneur who has developed a product or service that assists families to implement and sustain out-of-system learning? Select grants will be awarded to organizations scaling programs that enable learners and families to better access and assemble out-of-system learning experiences.

In Fall 2022, organizations and programs that are good candidates for funding are: 

  • Nontraditional learning models that have achieved proof of concept and are ready to scale to a new community or new audience;  
  • Tools that enable out-of-system learning ecosystems such as: methods for alternative credentialing or assessment, platforms that connect educators to families, etc.; 
  • Content or learning platforms that are explicitly targeted at out-of-system learners and enable learning in new and creative ways; 
  • Technology platforms that enable out-of-system learning and are fit for wider distribution; 
  • Research or storytelling that broadly elevates out-of-system learners, families, models, and more. 

Programs that are typically not aligned to our investment criteria include:

  • Daycare and early childhood programs
  • Learning programs that happen outside of traditional school hours in addition to traditional school (supplementary or enrichment activities)
  • Career prep, tutoring, and mentoring programs for students in traditional school
  • Innovative charter schools
  • Well-established and/or traditional private schools
  • Teacher-led initiatives taking place within traditional schools or classrooms

VELA will award Bridge grant funds based on the following factors:

  • Organizations led by unstoppable innovators enabling permissionless, learner-centered models
  • Organizations that have proof of concept on initial replication and ready for broader scale, or well-established organizations launching an experimental pilot program for out-of-system learners
  • Organizations that are experiencing consistent growth with evidence of unmet demand
  • Organizations with a defined point of view of how to measure success, and clear track record of performance against those measures 
  • Organizations with operational plans that inspire confidence in implementation

Please keep in mind that our imaginations are limited! We cannot possibly predict the fantastic breadth of ideas that everyday entrepreneurs are creating in their communities. If you think you have launched something fundamentally aligned to our selection criteria – but not yet captured within it – please fill out an interest form and tell us more about why your program is a great fit.

Deadline 

Interested applicants must complete and submit an interest form no later than Friday, October 14, 2022, at 5 pm EST.