Our Reason for Being
What is your purpose?
Really, think about that for a moment. How are you providing value to the world and being rewarded for it? What kind of life are you aiming to lead? What are your goals, and how will you reach them?
These are serious questions, and most especially relevant for young people learning to navigate life.
Our beliefs, habits, and decisions around money have a profound impact on our lives.
Money effects our daily lives and plans, including our decisions around where we live, what we can learn, and how comfortable, secure, and free we feel. This varies from person to person of course, but the common thread is the same. Money affects our emotional and physical wellbeing, and plays a large role in our sense of purpose, pride, providing for our family, and productivity. Money is essential to life.
Yet -- Money is a topic that the world offers very little wisdom about.
This absence of good guidance leaves us to learn too little too late, or through hardship and struggle, and for money to remain largely taboo, ignored, or unknown.
It is time we change all of that.
We know that money matters in life, but what matters more is Financial Intelligence.
Financial Intelligence is one's grasp and application of financial concepts, habits, and skills.
This is why we designed Ortus Academy -- to give young people the very best shot they could have at navigating their finances in the world. We teach them the core components to get off to a good start.
Our social impact is to empower communities through education, one child or classroom at a time.
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - B. Franklin
Ortus Academy provides games, courses, coaches, and experiences for students to develop Financial Intelligence.
Our mission is to empower young people with the skills and mindsets to find meaning in their lives, to make better financial decisions, and to learn the principles of financial intelligence.
We build dynamic games, create engagement activities, and tell authentic stories that students can connect and relate to so that they may become more responsible, balanced, prepared young adults.
With over 15 years coaching experience between the executive team of Ortus Academy, we were frustrated by what we saw education providing, and not providing. We’re committed engaging and educating a child based on experiences and games, not excessive reading materials and lectures.
Ethical businesses can elevate humanity by contributing to causes greater than themselves.
We were established with one goal in mind: to give students the opportunity to build a healthy relationship with money!
Origins of Ortus Academy
Aaron & Josh met playing a game -- an epic laser tag battle that has still gone without agreement on a winner (Josh won). From that competition, the two struck up an ongoing conversation, which delved into philosophy, learning from lessons in life, and the hard and knowledge needed to succeed.
A common thread through the discussions was that it often came down to financial decisions and constraints they entailed that significantly framed the challenges and opportunities in life.
These talks led to powerful questions about how people could avoid common financial follies. As passionate coaches and non-traditional educators, how might we possibly share some of our greatest failures, lessons, and successes? What if we could empower students by teaching them to be more financially intelligent?
What if we could help young people to find some direction in a life purpose, an education plan, and a fulfilling career, while saving more, spending less, and most importantly -- understanding their relationship to money?
We created something we wish we would have been offered to us as kids -- a fun, interactive, exciting game to learn all the most important money lessons that changed our lives.
As a longtime soccer coach and karate instructor, the duo chose to model sports. The central game has practices, coaching, and winning strategies. It highlights experimentation, failure, and creativity as key components of success. It rewards accomplishing achievable targets, leading to playing a winning a game.
Ortus Academy was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and has served in person over 1,400 students in over 30 schools and organizations in the state. Ortus means to Rise, or To Begin, or arriving from the East.
We rose this enterprise from East Baltimore, and see "new beginnings" as our our proud call to action. We exist to help people to start fresh on a better path.
We are leading a Revolution for financial intelligence!
"Having money's not everything. Not having it is." - K. West
Our reason for existence is to make an impact. We want young people to feel confident about their grasp on finances, so that they can imagine, plan, and lead a better life. We believe in empowering people with more independence, security, and freedom, and we measure that through the satisfaction of our programs.
People learn when they are engaged. Through play and experiential learning, including interactive games, stories and analogies, and decision-making simulations, our approach to education is one of engagement!
The deepest learning and change happens through integration. We integrate with what students already know, to make connections that are relevant, meaningful, and practically applicable. Our programs are accessible, self-paced, and give people chances to make mistakes, ask questions, and collaborate.
Our teaching style is different, because we focus on relationships. We want unique students to stay that way. Building positive relationships that have lasting impact can be the difference between success and failure, and we are treating that as a paramount. It's the reason that we are a team of Coaches, not teachers.
We aren’t hiding the costs or details, and we're not overpromising, because we believe in Transparency. We want you to know exactly what we’re doing so you know exactly what you’re getting. Clarity is kindness.
Our policies are based around the full respect, enrichment, and safety of students. We have a zero tolerance policy and will not stand for any behavior that reflects poorly on our students, company, partners, or schools. We believe in open communication, listening, collaboration, and motivating and supporting each other.
Press + Interviews
Baltimore Business Journal - How we created a game to make finance fun for children
Purpose Chasers Podcast - Interview with Aaron Velky
Technical.ly Baltimore - A Look at the graduates of the Conscious Venture Lab
The You'est You Podcast - The Power Trio: Fear, Purpose & Financial Intelligence
Technical.ly Baltimore - Conscious Venture Lab names 6 startups to new accelerator cohort
Out of the Box Radio Show - Interview with Aaron Velky from Ortus Academy
Towson Lifestyle - Towson Men to Watch - Aaron Velky
Baltimore Business Journal - Maryland bills call for financial literacy courses in schools, prisons
NonProfit Quarterly - More than a Game: Baltimore’s Participatory Approach to Financial Literacy
Technical.ly Baltimore - This Baltimore company makes a game out of financial literacy education
Baltimore Business Journal - The Tech of OnTrajectory & the Education of Ortus Academy
Meet the Team
Aaron Velky brings to the team an award winning managerial style, deep experience as a coach, and an in-depth knowledge of business operations, leadership, social marketing and business development. Aaron also coaches youth girls soccer, is an avid runner and gym rat, mentors entrepreneurs, participates in local causes, and loves self-development.
Josh Massey brings to the team an acclaimed teaching and coaching history and an in-depth knowledge of business operations, systems building, leadership, marketing, and business development. Fun fact, Josh earned his third degree black belt in Hapkido, and lead hundreds of students to earn theirs while head instructor of a Martial Arts school.
As Education Director, Gabe Bustos brings 6 years of educational program management and development to the Ortus team. Gabe leads our team in curriculum development, building our online lessons, and he is an amazing mentor to our team of interns. In his spare time, Gabe plays harmonica in a blues band, one of many he has played in and toured with over the years.
Chris Kindig brings his ideas, enthusiasm, and experience in entrepreneurship, product development, websites, branding, and marketing systems to Ortus Academy. When Chris is not creating for Ortus, you might find him working for another cause, gardening in his yard, cooking, or hiking with his family and friends.
X3 Team Member
Shiona is a senior at UMBC working on her bachelor’s in economics and math. She found her passion for experiential learning while working with a gender empowering STEM mentoring program called REACH. Shiona brings her understanding of motivation behind learning to enhance Ortus’ workshops and curricula.
X3 Team Member
Tristan King is a Junior at UMBC pursuing a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus in Augmented and Virtual Reality and a minor in entrepreneurship. Tristan is currently working on developing online interactions that engage our students to learn financial concepts and increase their financial intelligence.