VELA Invests in People

About Us

 

VELA is a national nonprofit fund that launched in 2020. VELA invests in everyday entrepreneurs – students, parents, educators, and community leaders – who are envisioning new approaches that meet learners’ and families’ needs. These models include homeschool co-ops, microschools, after-school programs, and much, much more. VELA does not dictate solutions to its grantees. Instead, VELA trusts grantees to identify what their communities need and how they can best meet those needs. 

 

 

What We Do

 

To date, VELA has awarded more than 1,300 grants totaling over $11 million to support nontraditional education models. Grant recipients are students, parents, educators, community leaders, and educators. They reside in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

But being a part of VELA is more than just receiving funding. VELA is creating a dynamic community focused on building connections and increasing awareness about this trailblazing work. Grantees engage through a private online community, access regular collaboration and programming opportunities, and receive communications support, including media outreach and storytelling, through videos and more. 

 

 

Our Team

 

Shaina Belton

Director of Strategic Partnerships

Shaina is responsible for building a dynamic ecosystem of partners and everyday entrepreneurs to optimize VELA’s reach and impact. She is inspired by the innovative and divergent ways that the VELA community approaches learning and is excited to use her background as an educator and artist to help facilitate growth and understanding of nontraditional education models. Shaina currently lives in Denver with her husband and two cats. 

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Michael Crawford

Director of Community Research

Michael drives all things research and learning at VELA — learning with and from the VELA community, excavating its brilliance, and sharing its insights with the community and beyond. With a background at the intersection of education and entrepreneurship, and a PhD in educational psychology, Michael is energized to support people exploring ways of learning that better-align with their needs, values, and aspirations. He loves reading, deep conversations, and using Twitter for good, and he currently resides in Metro Detroit with his wife and two kids.

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Serena Deutch

Associate, External Affairs

Serena supports communications and community engagement at VELA by sharing stories of everyday entrepreneurs and elevating the work of VELA nationally. Her experience working in the fields of education and entrepreneurship informs her excitement to support innovators building creative, new learning environments. Serena lives in New Orleans, where she loves listening to live music, baking, and reading.

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Lauren Grevel

Manager of Programs

Lauren leads the implementation and management of VELA’s grant programs. She’s a fan of lifelong learning, engagement, and being genuinely thrilled about learning. She is excited to support programs that reimagine and redefine where and how learning happens. Lauren lives in West Michigan and embraces spending time outdoors in all four seasons.

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Alex Jimenez

Associate, Programs

Alex supports VELA’s grant programs and partnership work. Prior to VELA, Alex led education efforts in museums, classrooms, and libraries which illuminated the many ways that youth learn, grow, and contribute to communities. Alex believes in the power of people and feels lucky to learn from and support VELA’s community of entrepreneurs. She currently resides in the suburbs of Denver and enjoys making art, watching television, and thrifting. 

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Lindsay Kelly

Director of Brand and Communications

Lindsay leads brand and communications at VELA and is passionate about elevating the stories and storytellers that bring an organization to life and spark new conversations and connections. She has spent most of her career designing communications, marketing, and public relations strategies for education non-profits and K-12 schools and is deeply inspired by the everyday entrepreneurs in the VELA community who are redefining what it looks like to engage and support students. Lindsay lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with her husband and two daughters, but escapes to the Atlantic Ocean whenever she can.

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Meredith Olson

CEO

Meredith leads VELA Education Fund, where she is determined to serve brave, creative people who are boldly reimagining education in their communities and beyond. Meredith is inspired by everyday entrepreneurs who are willing to let go, listen, and learn from children as they discover their magic spark. Meredith and her husband are raising their family of four children in Wichita, Kansas.

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Beth Seling

Chief of Operations

Beth leads operations for VELA, ensuring that its bold vision for the future of education is translated into action through its team, investments, and programming. After 20 years in the education reform and school choice space, Beth is passionate about enabling parents and community members to implement education solutions that work best for them, and advancing a future that rethinks what school looks like. Beth lives in New Orleans with her husband and three kids, where she enjoys running, cooking, and Saints football — WHODAT!

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Our Board

 

Edward Hui

Senior Program Officer, Walton Family Foundation

Derek Johnson

Senior Vice President, Stand Together

Caleb Offley

Senior Advisor K-12 Education Program, Walton Family Foundation

Meredith Olson

CEO, VELA Education Fund

Dr. Todd Rose

Co-Founder and President, Populace