Venture for America

Last updated
Venture For America, Inc.
Logo of Venture for America.svg
FoundedJuly 20, 2011;10 years ago (2011-07-20)
Founder Andrew Yang
Type Nonprofit organization
FocusCreating economic opportunity through entrepreneurship
Location
Members
1000+
Employees
20+
Website ventureforamerica.org

Venture For America (VFA) is an American nonprofit organization and fellowship headquartered in New York City. Founded by Andrew Yang in 2011, its mission is "to create economic opportunity in American cities" by training recent graduates and young professionals to work for startups in emerging cities throughout the United States. [1] [2]

Contents

History

Venture For America founder Andrew Yang Andrew Yang by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Venture For America founder Andrew Yang

In its first year, 2012, Venture for America placed 40 fellows in five cities: Cincinnati, Detroit, Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Providence. [3]

In 2013, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Philadelphia were added, and nearly 70 fellows were placed. [4]

In 2014, more than 100 fellows were placed, and an additional four cities—Columbus, Miami, San Antonio, and St. Louis—were added. [5]

In 2015, the organization added Birmingham, Charlotte, Denver, and Pittsburgh and placed more than 120 fellows.

In 2016, a documentary about Venture for America titled Generation Startup was released, co-directed by Cynthia Wade, an Academy Award winner, and Cheryl Miller Houser. [6] [7] 2016 also saw the addition of Atlanta and Nashville along with nearly 170 fellows placed.

In 2017, VFA expanded to Kansas City and placed approximately 180 fellows. In mid-2017, Andrew Yang stepped down as CEO. From September 2017 to January 2021, Amy Nelson served as CEO.

In 2021, Eric Somerville was placed as CEO. Tulsa, OK was added as a VFA city. [8] [9]

Approach

Venture For America recruits recent college graduates to work in 14 cities throughout the United States. The goal of the program is for its Fellows to become startup leaders or founders.

After acceptance into the program, Fellows attend a four-week summer professional development program called Training Camp. There, the Fellows are taught and mentored by investors, venture capitalists, and innovation firms in the skills they will need at their companies. [10] The skills they learn include topics of web design, entrepreneurship, and public speaking. [2]

Fellows are then placed in startups in cities like Baltimore, Detroit, and San Antonio in industries such as education innovation, biotechnology, VC firms, media, and clean technology. [2] [11] Since 2012, Venture for America has trained more than 1000 fellows who have worked in 18 cities. [12]

Criticism

VFA originally aimed to create 100,000 jobs by 2025. [13] Critics of the organization have noted that VFA has not yet created 4,000 jobs, and Yang himself claimed in 2021 that "hundreds" of jobs were created. [14] In June 2019, Theodore Schleifer of Vox wrote that VFA's positive early publicity can be attributed to marketing efforts by Andrew Yang. Yang has justified his goal of creating 100,000 jobs, saying: "In order for organizations to have a very high ceiling, you need to set the goal very, very aggressively." Schleifer also claims that VFA fails to help residents living in inner cities because "Yang thought about how to fix inner cities through the prism of [wealthy donors], rather than listening to what the community wanted." [15]

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References

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  3. Coelho, Courtney (July 12, 2012). "Venture training helps entrepreneurs succeed". Brown University . Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  4. Venture for America (May 31, 2013). "Venture for America to Send 100 Top College Graduates Over Next Five Years to Support Detroit and Cleveland Startups". PR Newswire . Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  5. Dahlberg, Nancy (April 4, 2014). "Venture for America launching in Miami". Miami Herald . Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  6. Delamotte, Nikki (November 14, 2016). "'Generation Startup': Young entrepreneurs are in focus in new documentary". Cleveland.com . Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  7. Friess, Steve (November 30, 2016). "How Banza, a Chickpea Pasta Start-Up, Thrives on Attention". The New York Times . Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  8. Ballard, Julie (March 29, 2017). "Andrew Yang Steps Down as Venture for America CEO". Silicon Bayou News. Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  9. "Andrew Yang Steps Down from Venture for America Board of Directors". Venture for America. Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  10. "Venture for America: Entrepreneurial Fellowships for College Grads, with CEO Andrew Yang". Big Think . October 19, 2014. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  11. Schwartz, Ariel (July 20, 2011). "Venture For America Will Do For Entrepreneurship What Teach For America Does For Education". Fast Company . Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  12. "Venture for America - Our Impact". Venture for America. Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  13. "Introducing Venture for America - How to Create 100,000 Jobs". Venture For America. 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2019-12-12.
  14. Yang, Andrew (October 4, 2021). "Breaking Up with the Democratic Party Andrew Yang" . Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  15. Schleifer, Theodore (2019-06-13). "Andrew Yang is promising to revitalize America. His nonprofit tried, too, but couldn't". Vox. Retrieved 2019-12-12.