Dirk van Velzen

SVP Partner

Dirk is passionate about prisoner education. While incarcerated for 15 years for a series of commercial burglaries in federal, state, and private prisons, he graduated at the top of his class at Pennsylvania State University. Seeing that others would walk a similar path, Dirk founded the Prison Scholar Fund from behind bars supporting 110 incarcerated students before his release in 2015. Only 4% of the 83 released students have been reincarcerated, compared to a national 68% recidivism rate.

Released himself in 2015, Dirk graduated from a Nonprofit Management program at the University of Washington (2015), won first place in the Social Venture Partners Fast Pitch business plan competition (2015), and rocked a Social Entrepreneurship program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business (2016).

Dirk was accepted into the inaugural cohort of musician John Legend & New Profit’s “Unlocked Futures” accelerator (2017), is a JustLeadershipUSA fellow “Leading with Conviction” (2018), and was invited into the American Enterprise Institute’s Leadership Network (2019).

During the COVID-19 pandemic (2020), Dirk built relationships with food suppliers and distributed, door-to-door, over $700,000 in nourishment to system impacted people and families facing food insecurity.

Next Level: Dirk recently finished a Nonprofit Leadership program at the Harvard Kennedy School, as he remains driven to open access to quality postsecondary education and transition support for all underserved prisoners in America to break the cycle of re-incarceration and homelessness.

© 2022 Social Venture Partners | Seattle, WA. | 501c(3) – EIN#91-1894424