Early Learning Ventures (ELV) is a Colorado non-profit organization founded by the David and Laura Merage Foundation. As venture philanthropists, David and Laura Merage provided the seed funding to launch ELV, and the vision to bring this groundbreaking initiative to scale. They believe all children have the right to develop strong learning foundations through universal access to high quality early care and education, and they are utilizing a results-oriented business approach to strengthen the industry and improve universal access to high quality early care and education.
Education Is the Gateway
The David and Laura Merage Foundation is centered on the belief that education is the gateway to optimal life outcomes. The foundation concentrates its efforts in four primary areas: Early Childhood Education, Art and Community, Community Development, and Israel.
David Merage is a 2013 Ellis Island Medal of Honor Recipient. He was honored at an elaborate ceremony on May 11, 2013. In recognition of this prestigious honor, Governor John Hickenlooper proclaimed May 11, 2013 as “David Merage Day” in Colorado.
From an early age, David knew he was destined to be an entrepreneur. In 1975, he co-founded Chef America, Inc., a frozen food manufacturer known for inventing the Hot Pocket ©. At the time of its sale to Nestlé in 2002 for $2.6B, the company had reached $750 million in annual sales, employed 1,800 people, and was growing at a rate of 15% per year, making it one of the most successful food companies in the world.
Today, David is principal of Consolidated Investment Group (CIG) and is an active international investor with a diverse portfolio of real estate, private equity and capital market investments.
David Merage is passionate about giving back to the community and, together with his wife Laura, provides leadership to multiple philanthropic foundations.
David was born in Tehran, Iran. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from California State University.
Laura Merage works to positively influence the lives of thousands of people every day and she is passionate about giving back to the community. Together with her husband, David, Laura provides leadership and direction to several philanthropic organizations.
Laura Merage was born in Tehran, Iran and immigrated to Los Angeles at the age of fifteen. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Southern California and her Masters Degree in Art from New York University. Laura is an artist/photographer with works in public and private collections nationally and internationally. Her work keeps her traveling for shows as well as inspiration. She keeps studios in Denver, Hawaii and Israel.
Laura has launched several philanthropic organizations, including RedLine in Denver, an organization that Laura founded which is an urban art laboratory, promoting the creative expression of visual and performing resident artists. Laura is also the founder of Black Cube, an experimental art museum that operates nomadically and works with artists to produce pop up exhibitions in unexpected places.
Laura serves on the Anti-Defamation League Board of Directors (Mountain States Region and National), and is deeply committed to their mission of promoting justice and fair treatment to all. Laura’s dedication to her community extends to organizations promoting Jewish Life, the arts, and Early Childhood Education.