The VELA DAO, a Web3 Grantmaking Experiment, Announces Its First Round of Funded Projects
Community-Led Philanthropic Model Will Utilize Web3 Technology and USD Coin to Distribute a Total of $111,000 to 12 Unconventional Education Entrepreneurs
December 14, 2023 – VELA today announced the first 12 projects that will be funded by the VELA DAO, a Web3 grantmaking experiment designed by and for unconventional education entrepreneurs with the support of Civics Unplugged and DreamDAO. The 12 founders, whose projects were selected from a pool of 55 applicants, will become members of the VELA DAO and help to select the next round of funded projects, as the DAO continues to expand in service of the VELA Founder Network. These founders are also charged with sharing the learnings from their projects with the VELA community.
“We are so inspired by what the founding members of the VELA DAO have accomplished as they announce this first round of funding,” shared Serena Deutch, Associate of External Affairs for VELA. “This pilot has shown how the VELA DAO can distribute ownership of VELA’s resources, give our founders decision-making and operational power, and incentivize grant recipients to support each other – ultimately, better serving the alternative education ecosystem.”
As Karema Akila founder of The Genius School and The Genii DAO and a founding member of the VELA DAO shared, “As a founder and entrepreneur, I’m usually sitting on the receiving side of grant funding. It was such an incredible honor and a lot of fun to be a VELA DAO founding member responsible for collectively choosing projects to support.”
The VELA DAO is a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) that is leveraging Web3 technology to disrupt traditional philanthropy, giving VELA grant recipients the power to fund and support the projects that they believe will add the most value to the VELA Founder Network. All funded projects fall into one of four categories: curricular support, marketing/PR, legal support, or Web3 projects and all funding must be used exclusively for a charitable purpose. The first 12 projects selected for funding by the VELA DAO are:
- Acton Academy Fort Lauderdale (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) which will use funding to create optimal Web3 implementation for vPAL, their AI learning project, and help it scale to additional locations, supporting the development of their decentralized ownership model.
- Colossal Academy (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) which will use funding to scale their self-directed learning approach by building the Goal Guru, an app that will allow key stakeholders to be in communication for the greatest good of the learner.
- Lower Lights Leadership Academy (Yuma, AZ) which will use funding to support the finalization of their 501(c)(3) status and to deepen their understanding of insurance opportunities and needs.
- Nneka Gigi Virtual Studios (Los Angeles, CA) which will use funding to support the creation of a virtual educational African Art gallery using NFTs to foster cultural pride, education, and engagement among Black girls, their families, and the broader community.
- OurSchool (Portland, OR) which will use funding to support their marketing efforts to expand into new states, including Florida, Texas, and Alabama, to support LGBTQIA scholars, creatives, and young people.
- Positively Arts (Las Vegas, NV) which will use funding to design a mindfulness program to provide staff and learners with more tools, training, and resources to support mental health and social-emotional learning.
- Radical Learning (New York, NY) which will use funding to support the hiring of a public relations specialist to support brand development, media work, and community partnerships, including events with entrepreneurs that increase awareness of unconventional education paths.
- Savage Learning Environment (Los Angeles, CA) which will use funding to hire a legal team and accountant to support their transition to 501(c)(3) status and to better understand potential liability concerns for their programming.
- South Florida Homeschool Resource Center (Davie, FL) which will use funding to engage a social media specialist to help reach new homeschoolers in the tri-county area to share the guidance they offer on Florida laws, portfolio assessments, and support in navigating the homeschooling world.
- Tutor Tots Online (Atlanta, GA) which will use funding to support the creation of a robust digital marketing training program tailored specifically for VELA founders. It will cover digital marketing strategies, including Search Engine Optimization, email marketing, social media management, and online advertising techniques.
- TwiddleU (Liburn, GA) which will use funding to build a Web3 network for children with autism as an intervention tool, empowering parents and educators with opportunities to connect, share, and access content in support of nonverbal autistic learners.
- Universe Konadu Inc. (Newark, NJ) which will use funding to support the development of and infrastructure for a customized software and online platform that can independently host a learn-and-earn, self-paced, hybrid vocational training and certification course for youth and young adults.
The 12 selected projects all have a focus on learning about Web3 and a commitment to sharing and collaboration. They were selected by the 6 founding members of the VELA DAO, all VELA founders and past grant recipients. As Kyle Gamba, the founder of La Luz microschool and a founding DAO Member shared, “I consider myself incredibly lucky to not only explore the intricacies of Web3 and DAOs, but also to actively contribute to the inaugural round of authentic participatory grantmaking. Passing on the power of allocating funds to those we selected feels like experiencing democracy at its finest—a transformative and genuinely unique journey.”
The VELA DAO will continue to engage in grantmaking and hopes to create new opportunities to further incentivize the VELA community to share resources and collaborate. The DAO plans to release a token, available only to VELA DAO members, that can be redeemed for grant capital or other rewards. The VELA DAO will also teach members how to leverage emerging technologies in innovative ways to improve their work and their communities.
VELA is a national nonprofit fund that was established in 2019 to catalyze the community-driven innovation happening outside of the traditional K-12 education system. Today, the VELA Founder Network is the nation’s largest community of entrepreneurs providing alternatives to conventional schooling. By providing early capital, access to a thriving community of entrepreneurs, and connections to resources and support, VELA is accelerating the exploration of new frontiers in education. To learn more, visit www.vela.org.