When Yannell Selman (TFA Bay Area ’12) shadowed her aunt, a special education teacher at a special needs school in Yannell’s hometown of Miami, she saw a problem she just couldn’t shake.
After reading a 2nd-grade-level book to an 18-year-old about to graduate, Yannell knew that the school was failing its students, moving them through the system without sufficiently preparing them for their next step.
That’s when she decided to take on the fourth-largest school district in the country.
With a vision for each of the 350,000 students in Miami-Dade County to receive a high-quality education, Yannell founded P.S. 305 — a nonprofit that is inspiring parents, teachers, and community members to stand up for quality, choice, and accountability across all of Miami’s schools.
Now, the Venture Fund & Fellowship is giving her the tools, network and support she needs to grow as a leader and expand her impact.
An intensive six-month program that builds leadership skills through individualized coaching, consulting and exclusive trainings, the Venture Fund & Fellowship is helping LEE members like Yannell take their civic ventures to the next level — and giving them a chance at up to $100,000 in funding.
“As a young Latina, I didn’t see anyone like me doing this work. I didn’t envision myself as an entrepreneur,” Yannell said. “But the Venture Fund & Fellowship made me feel it was possible — that I could create something in my own community and make a difference. It gave me a pathway to be a leader.”
Since 2015, 18 fellows have gone through the program, and many have received financial support, including Yannell.
“The funding I received enabled me to work on my venture full time and even hire a second person. It gave my organization credibility, which set the stage to receive additional funding from other sources,” she said.
As she works to shift mindsets in her community and make education the top issue in Miami, Yannell looks to the network she’s gained through the fellowship as a sounding board:
“Being a venture leader can be lonely and isolating work. Now I have people across the country to reach out to for support — when I have questions, want to bounce around ideas, or just want to express frustrations. This network is invaluable to me.”
If you have an idea for a venture that involves changing a policy or official system, or if you’re looking to expand your venture’s impact, take just five minutes to find out if you’re eligible for the the Venture Fund & Fellowship.