NEW YORK, July 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- With the goal of directing thousands of this country's most talented and successful students into careers as entrepreneurs and job-creators, Venture for America (VFA) today announced the official launch of its organization and the beginning of an application process to recruit an inaugural pool of 50+ graduating college seniors from the class of 2012 ("Fellows"). Beginning in the fall of 2012, Fellows will take jobs at start-up companies in some of the most economically-challenged cities in the U.S., including Detroit, Providence, and New Orleans.
VFA is designed to do for entrepreneurship what Teach for America has done for education --
bring young, talented grads to work in underserved communities for at least two years. At the same time, the organization aspires to spur enterprise and encourage entrepreneurship in parts of the U.S. that struggle to attract top college graduates. VFA expects to contribute to the creation of 100,000 U.S. jobs by 2025.
Detroit Venture Partners, an early-stage VC working to rebuild Detroit through technology and entrepreneurship already has verbally committed to hiring at least 20 fellows from the 2012 graduating class. "We are thrilled to join forces with Venture for America in an effort to facilitate urban renewal, job growth, and hope," said Josh Linkner, CEO and Managing Partner of DVP. "We believe this incredible program will not only benefit our portfolio companies, but will also provide a rich experience for the fellows that, in turn, will shape their careers in a positive and high-impact manner."
"We're excited to have enterprising young college graduates come to Detroit to help build businesses," said Mayor Dave Bing. "Detroit is a land of opportunity for those looking to make their mark."
"The overwhelming majority of seniors from the country's top universities opt for traditional careers in service-based industries within big cities like New York, Boston and San Francisco. Far too few of them are engaged in job-creating enterprises—especially within communities dealing with economic transition," said Andrew Yang, founder and president of VFA, and also a successful entrepreneur in his own right, having sold a graduate school test prep company to the Washington Post/Kaplan. "Our country's inability to channel its talent to create jobs is a major weakness for the U.S. in the global economy, and will only get worse if it's not addressed," he added.
Here's how VFA will work:
Start-up companies within the target cities will be identified within industries of great potential or future importance (e.g., energy, biotech, materials sciences, infotech, education innovation, etc.). These start-ups will be presented with VFA fellows to hire for two years, at a discounted salary of $32- $38,000 per year. At the end of the 2-year period, the company can hire the fellow under new terms.
Fellows will be selected through a competitive application process that will include peer and faculty recommendations, multiple interviews, case studies, business plan submissions, and behavioral exercises. They can express preferences for regions and industries of interest, but will be obliged to accept their assignments. Fellows will be sent in groups to cities to encourage a sense of shared experience and will live in group housing.
At the beginning of the program, fellows will attend the Venture Fellows Institute, a five-week boot camp that will consist of training programs in relevant skills as well as lectures, discussions and meetings with experienced entrepreneurs. Brown University has agreed to provide its dorms and facilities to host the first Institute during the summer of 2012.
Fellows will also be gathered for an 'intermission' after the conclusion of the first year of their assignment and a one-week graduation program at the conclusion of the second year. At the conclusion of the two years, the fellow who is determined to have performed the best during his or her fellowship will receive $100,000 in either seed investment for a new venture or support for his or her current company. Over time, VFA will work with established venture capital or angel networks to enable multiple awards and vendor services with each award.
In addition to its Fellowship program, VFA will provide a centralized recruitment infrastructure for start-ups and early-stage companies across the country. Applicants to the program will be included in a database that will be made available to approved companies for recruitment purposes.
About Venture for America
Venture for America (VFA) is designed to do for entrepreneurship what Teach for America has done for education -- bring young, talented grads to disadvantaged communities for at least two years. Beginning in the fall of 2012, VFA will send an inaugural group of 50+ graduating seniors from the top U.S. universities to join start-up companies in some of the most economically challenged cities in the country including Detroit, Providence, and New Orleans.
VFA is a registered 501c3 non-profit corporation. It has received commitments to-date of approximately $500,000 to commence operations and support from board members, philanthropic individuals and companies including IAC, Lawrence Lenihan of FirstMark Capital, David Lee of SVAngel, and Dan Porter of OMGPOP. It has established partnerships with Detroit Venture Partners, Betaspring, Bizdom U., the New Economy Initiative, Rhode Island Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Ann Arbor SPARK and other regional start-up accelerators, investors, and incubators.
Press Contact: Naomi Berlin / [email protected] / 646.808.3647
SOURCE Venture for America