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New Organization Intends to Transform Talented Graduates into Entrepreneurs

August 03, 2011

Venture for America (VFA), nonprofit organization, announced its official launch and the acceptance of applications for its inaugural pool of "fellows," approximately 50, selected from the graduating class of 2012. The organization hopes to "spur enterprise and encourage entrepreneurship in parts of the U.S. that struggle to attract top college graduates."

Beginning in fall, fellows will take jobs at startup companies in economically-challenged U.S. cities. VFA will match the fellows with startup companies in "industries of great potential or future importance" (e.g., energy, biotech, and materials sciences) from targeted cities including Detroit, Providence and New Orleans. The startup will hire fellows at a discounted salary of up to $38,000 per year. After two years, the startup may retain the fellow under new terms of employment.

The organization models its selection process after Teach for America. Fellows will be selected through a competitive application process that includes peer and faculty recommendations, multiple interviews, case studies, business plan submissions and behavioral exercises. Once selected, fellows will have the ability to express preferences for regions and industries of interest, but will be obliged to accept their assignments. The fellows will be placed in a cohort "to encourage a sense of shared experience" and will share housing. Before arriving at their assignment, fellows will attend a five-week "boot camp" consisting of training programs, lectures, discussions and meetings with experienced entrepreneurs.

After two years, the VFA and its partners will provide a fellow, who is determined to have performed the best during his or her fellowship, $100,000 in either seed investment for a new venture or support for an existing company. VFA is currently accepting applications. More information regarding the VFA fellows program is available at: http://ventureforamerica.org/fellows.

VFA also will maintain a centralized recruitment infrastructure for start-ups and early-stage companies across the country. Program applications will be included in a database that will be made available to approved companies for recruitment purposes. Visit VFA's website...

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