Community-Led Pilot Will Use a Groundbreaking Philanthropic Model to Support Unconventional Education Entrepreneurs
August 31, 2023 – VELA Education Fund today announced the launch of the VELA DAO, a Web3 grantmaking experiment that will provide funding to unconventional education entrepreneurs through a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) and revolutionary philanthropic model. Designed in collaboration with Civics Unplugged and DreamDAO, the VELA DAO is run entirely by VELA grant recipients and will initially exclusively fund VELA grant recipients. During the pilot, VELA DAO members will distribute $300,000 in grant funding.
“VELA was founded in 2019 with a spirit of experimentation and a desire to catalyze innovation in K-12 education by expanding the notion of who gets to be an innovator,” shared VELA CEO and President Meredith Olson. “We know that for this work to be sustainable there must be real ownership and decision-making power among creators, and we are excited to learn from our community as they leverage the DAO and Web3 for experimentation with trust-based, collaborative philanthropic models.”
The VELA DAO is designed to remove obstacles and strengthen the collective knowledge of the VELA community by providing unconventional education entrepreneurs with funding for operational support, resource-sharing, and the utilization of new technologies. Grant recipients who receive funding from the DAO become members of the DAO and are tasked with strengthening the knowledge, skills, and capacity of VELA’s community by sharing their learnings and voting on the next group of entrepreneurs to fund.
“The future of philanthropy is co-led between funders & grant recipients,” shared Thanasi Dilos, Co-Founder of Gotham Labs and Civics Unplugged. “VELA DAO is not just about grantmaking. It represents a bigger vision to incentivize collaboration between individual VELA grant recipients by creating a value network within the DAO, powered by Web3 technology. The DAO will create a roadmap to exponentially increase the impact of any philanthropic portfolio by supercharging knowledge exchange within grant recipient communities.”
The founding members of the VELA DAO are all VELA grant recipients who have successfully launched education ventures and learning environments. They are:
- Karema Akilah, founder of The Genius School and The Genii DAO
- Thanasi Dilos, co-founder of Gotham Labs and Civics Unplugged
- Kyle Gamba, founder of La Luz
- Jeffrey Imrich and Sung-Ae Yang, co-founders of Rock by Rock
- Alycia Comer-Wright, founder of Cultural Roots Homeschool Cooperative
The VELA DAO provides a unique opportunity for VELA grant recipients to explore and leverage emerging technologies, like AI and Web3, to improve their work and strengthen their communities. While the VELA DAO will begin with grantmaking work, plans are underway to further incentivize collaboration and the sharing of resources by releasing a token, available only to DAO members, that can be redeemed for grant capital or other rewards.
“The VELA DAO offers us the chance to directly participate in community-driven philanthropic funding and ongoing support, so that we can continue to create more accessible education systems for all children,” shared Alycia Comer-Wright, founder of Cultural Roots Homeschool Cooperative and founding member of the VELA DAO.
To learn more, visit www.veladao.org.
About VELA Education Fund
VELA is a national nonprofit fund that was established in 2019 to catalyze a vibrant alternative education ecosystem. VELA provides trust-based funding to entrepreneurs, fosters community-building and knowledge-sharing, and increases visibility through storytelling that promotes cultural awareness and acceptance of the out-of-system space. To date, VELA has made more than 2,400 investments in education entrepreneurs, totaling more than $28 million. Grant recipients reside in all 50 states and three U.S. territories. Visit www.velaedfund.org to learn more.