Next Step Grants

Next Step grants are an opportunity for VELA to reinvest in programs and ideas within the VELA community that are taking initial steps to expand their programming. Next Step grants are only available to programs that have previously received a VELA Micro grant.


Impact Areas

In Fall 2022, Next Step grants will be awarded to VELA Micro grant recipients who have not already received a Next Step grant. These organizations should be moving beyond an initial pilot stage towards expansion and sustainability, and are focused on the following impact areas: 

Collaboration

Are you motivated to learn from other entrepreneurs, and working together with someone in the VELA community to expand your collective reach? Select grants will be awarded to VELA entrepreneurs who previously received funding for independent projects, and are now working together on a co-creation project to offer something new together, or collectively enhance and expand the services and programs they already provide.  

An example of a good candidate for this impact area is: A VELA-supported homeschool cooperative in Michigan partners with a VELA-supported content provider in New York to develop and pilot project-based learning kits for learners in the co-op, with a goal of distributing the product for wider distribution once they’re tested.  

Disruptive technology

Are you a VELA entrepreneur that developed a technology-enabled solution to facilitate out-of-system learning? Select grants will be awarded to support technology-based VELA programs that reduce the barriers to out-of-system learning and stretch the bounds of the imagination with respect to where and how schooling happens.  

Examples of good candidates for this impact area are: a tech-based community that supports parents as they transition to becoming primary educators for their families; an online learning hub that provides relevant curriculum and customized learning plans for homeschooling families. 

Model replication

Are you a VELA entrepreneur that has developed a model for out-of-system learning that is ready for initial replication? Select grants will be awarded to support VELA programs that are initiating plans to replicate their model, either by adding a new site(s) or packaging an element of their model that can be implemented by others in the out-of-system space.  

Examples of good candidates for this impact area are a small learning environment that is adding a new site(s) in response to demand from learners and families; or a micro school network that has developed a startup toolkit for early-stage micro school operators.  

Eligibility 

Next Step grants will be reserved for organizations that are moving beyond an initial pilot stage toward expansion and sustainability and have not previously received a Next Step grant in earlier rounds.

Strong candidates for our Fall 2022 Next Step grant round are entrepreneurs or organizations that are initiating plans to  expand their reach to serve additional out-of-system learners and families. Applicants should be organizations that have previously received a Micro grant. Next Step grants will be reserved for organizations that are moving beyond an initial pilot stage toward expansion and sustainability. 

VELA will award Next Step funds based on the following factors:

  • Programs led by unstoppable innovators enabling permissionless models
  • Programs that are experiencing consistent growth with evidence of unmet demand
  • Programs with a defined point of view of how to measure success, and clear progress indicating proof of concept 
  • Programs with compelling plans for initial growth and capacity to execute with excellence 

How to Apply

Because Next Step grants are only open to VELA Micro grant recipients, eligible applicants receive a unique link to apply via e-mail. If you have questions or did not receive a link, please contact grants@velaedfund.org.

Deadline

Applications must be submitted by 5 pm EST on Wednesday, October 12, 2022.