ILA was birthed with a mission to raise up the next generation.

Independent Learning Academy started as a co-op in Laguna Niguel at the home of Joe and Lesley Russell in fall 2011. The program was called Thursday Co-op, and it was made up of twenty-three families and 65 children who met every Thursday from 8-3pm in the Russell’s home. It was an incredible year filled with God’s provision and His many blessings. The co-op consisted of many hard-working and talented moms who taught classes and cared for each other’s children.

In the fall of 2012, the vision expanded and the Thursday Co-op became a homeschool program offered to all of Orange County. Next Generation Ministries was founded by Joe and Lesley and the Independent Learning Academy was birthed whose mission and vision are to raise up the next generation of children to fulfill their individual God-given purposes based on Ephesians 2:10. Since 2012 ILA has opened three campuses that minister to many homeschooling students and families in California and in Idaho.

Give a charitable donation towards furthering a dynamic educational program for the next generation.

Lesley Russell

Founder of the Independent Learning Academy (ILA)

Independent Learning Academy is a K-12 parent choice homeschool educational model with over 1,300 students and three locations, two in southern California, and one in Meridian, Idaho. Lesley and her husband, Joe, of 29 years, are co-founders of Next Generation Ministries whose mission is to raise up the next generation to fulfill their God-given purposes. Lesley is also the Charter Head of both Trail Life Troop 7401 and American Heritage Girls Troop CA 0019. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Gettysburg College and a Master’s in Secondary Education from Manhattanville College. She taught middle school Language Arts in NY before starting her own family. Lesley has always enjoyed working with the youth. For years while raising her own four children, she volunteered in youth ministry in Connecticut, Georgia, and then California where she and her family have lived for the past eleven years. Through homeschooling her own children for the past 17 years, Lesley has developed a passion for education and families, which fuels her desire to create an empowering and inspiring educational space for all children. As the Lord leads, she is excited to bring ILA’s educational model to other communities and states. ILA chapters are available for churches to partner with to raise up and influence the next generation of children for Christ.

Through our engaging academic classes, enriching elective programs, and outreach ministries, we come alongside you and your family to partner together.

Our Mission

Independent Learning Academy is a ministry that is available for the homeschooling community to embrace. Its purpose and intent are to raise up and equip the next generation to fulfill their individual God-given purposes and to become leaders in their community making a difference in people’s lives. Through our engaging academic classes, enriching elective programs, and outreach ministries, we come alongside you and your family to partner together to make an exceptional and memorable educational experience for your children that will make a lasting impact on their lives.