West Virginia Families and Organizations Receive $80,000 for Rethinking Educational Options to Meet Students’ and Families’ Needs

JULY 7, 2021 — West Virginia families and organizations will receive $80,000 through Meet the Moment 2.0, a grant program run by a national nonprofit, VELA Education Fund, that supports innovative, nontraditional education programs, the organization announced today. The funding is spread across 8 grantees, a collection of parents, educators, and community leaders from Marlinton to Morgantown who are designing custom education solutions for their communities. 

“This inspiring group of grantees are everyday entrepreneurs who are taking action to ensure children growing up in West Virginia have educational opportunities that meet their needs,” said Meredith Olson, VELA’s president. “The pandemic underscored the importance of adaptation, and VELA’s grantees are developing nimble, creative approaches to education that put West Virginia families in the driver’s seat.” 

The $80,000 in funding to West Virginia residents is part of more than $2.1 million being awarded to 233 recipients across the country. These grantees are developing a range of nontraditional approaches, including microschools, homeschool co-ops, and after-school programs, that reflect how families are rethinking their children’s educational experience. 

During the pandemic, for instance, the number of families in West Virginia choosing to homeschool their children more than tripled, with 16% of families with school-aged children reporting homeschooling in fall 2020, according to 2020 US Census data.

West Virginia grantees include:

Angie Channell, Morgantown

Channell leads the Mountaineer Homeschool Hub, a homeschool enrichment center for families in and around Morgantown. Participation more than quadrupled during the pandemic, leading the program to move into a new space this summer (a kickoff event is planned for August 14). This summer, the Homeschool Hub is offering classes on gravity and photography; past offerings have included Grossology and Wagons Ho! 

Jennifer Cogar, Bridgeport 

Years ago, Jennifer Cogar’s daughter, Abigail, read a book about Shakespeare and loved it. Now, Cogar’s 16-year-old daughter is preparing to take a Shakespeare-focused trip to England in Spring 2022 as part of a capstone project for her junior year of high school. Cogar’s daughter and her classmate, Evangelia Berry, had the idea to apply for the grant; they both participate in a Classical Conversations homeschool group and will focus on Shakespeare for the 2021-22 school year. The pair will then head to London to visit Shakespeare’s Globe, a reconstruction of the theater for which Shakespeare wrote his plays, and the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace.

Margaret Worth, Marlinton

Worth has lived in the 1,000-person Pocahontas County town her whole life, but she’s been able to travel and experience other places. Now, the former teacher is hoping to bring experiential learning opportunities to middle and high school students in her region through a mobile learning program. The Confluence uses a shuttle bus to take students into the biodiverse areas of Pocahontas County.  The grant will allow her to take students on a trip this August to St. Louis. The trip will focus on both literature and science; students will read Follow the River during the trip, and they will camp at national forests and parks along the way, learning about ecology and the environment. The route will follow the headwaters from Pocahontas County to the Mississippi River in Missouri. The grant will allow for 3-4 of these long-distance trips to occur over the next year.

These West Virginia grant recipients were chosen from more than 500 applications that VELA received. Applicants came from 47 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

“We are impressed by the ideas that caught fire during the pandemic and by the humanity that everyday entrepreneurs are bringing back to education,” said Olson, VELA Education Fund President. “VELA’s Meet the Moment 2.0 investment will help to sustain and expand this innovative education movement going forward.”

Please contact Lisa Cohen if you are interested in a story on these education innovations in West Virginia. 

About VELA Education Fund

VELA Education Fund is an independent national nonprofit that invests in nontraditional education innovations that meet the needs of learners and families. VELA partners with organizations and communities to administer grants to eligible individuals and organizations that are innovating outside of the traditional education system. VELA connects its grantees to a national network and provides them with a platform to elevate their work and learning. Through Meet the Moment 1.0, VELA worked with five partners to distribute more than $2.7 million to 450 grantees, who were located in 43 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Together, the Meet the Moment 1.0 grantees impacted more than 225,000 children and families.