VELA is an Austin-born nonprofit. Since 2011, our vision has been to create a community where all families of children with disabilities thrive. Through our programming, VELA gives parents the knowledge, empowerment, resilience and community needed to become their child's greatest advocates. Through the parent, for the child.
mission & History
When told that your child has a disability, your life is forever changed. Research shows parent involvement to be the greatest indicator of positive health and educational outcomes for children with disabilities, yet parents report feelings of confusion and powerlessness when navigating doctors, therapies and special education for their child. This is especially problematic for the majority of families served by VELA, who are underserved, live below the poverty level and experience language and cultural barriers. Without an informed and supported parent, the child will miss key developmental, academic and community-based resources resulting in limited opportunities and marginalization as an adult. In response to this immense gap in services, VELA was founded in 2010 with a mission to empower underserved Spanish and English-speaking parents of children with disabilities.
Through interactive and culturally responsive courses and wraparound services, families gain knowledge, empowerment, resilience and community to ensure that their children thrive. Regardless of income, language, and/or culture, our families share a powerful commonality; they want to create the best possible outcomes for their child. In the last 11 years VELA has grown from a 100% volunteer run agency to having 10 staff, a strategic and diverse board, and a community of committed volunteers. In 2021, VELA served 2,364 individuals across 84 zip codes through both in person and virtual program offerings, at no cost to families.
what's next for vela: Expand, Activate and Integrate
In 2022, we have expanded the geographic reach of our virtual programming and nearly doubled the number of families graduating from courses and accessing case management. The problem is thousands of families of children with disabilities in our community and beyond, do not have access to the services, supports or community needed for their child and family to thrive. We have big dreams and we want you to join us as we scale our virtual and in-person offerings, launch innovative school partnerships, develop integrated healthcare models, create on-demand VELA programming, build a parent leadership program and more! VELA's next Strategic Plan will focus on how we can Expand, Activate and Integrate VELA so that we can show up bigger and better for families of children with disabilities. Read more below!