Venture for America December Newsletter

Dear VFA Friends and Supporters:?

Big news – we are thrilled to announce that Tony Hsieh, CEO of, and Downtown Project have pledged $1 Million to Venture for America to support our work in Las Vegas over the next several years!  This is a huge deal for our 18-month-old organization.  We are proud to be part of the revitalization efforts of Las Vegas and couldn’t be happier to work with Downtown Project to have a sustained positive impact in the years to come.  On Monday, Tony appeared on CNBC to discuss his gift to Venture for America.

This is VFA’s largest contribution to date, and we would like to thank Tony and his team at Downtown Project, as well as our seven 2012 Vegas Fellows, for making it possible. Since August, Andy Chatham, Barry Conrad, Josh Levine, Jude Stanion, Laura Berk, Ovik Banerjee, and Rob Solomon have been working hard everyday to move the ball forward in Las Vegas and represent VFA.

For more details about what our Fellows are doing in Vegas, check out the Las Vegas Sun article about the $1 MIllion Pledge and the Fellows’ time there so far – Tony says the Fellows have “far exceeded anything we expected from them.” We look forward to sending dozens more Fellows to the Downtown Project in 2013 and for years to come.

Congratulations to the Newest VFA Fellows

In other exciting news, Venture for America had its first Selection Day for the Class of 2013 in November, and has officially added the first 20 Fellows for next year.  It’s an impressive group which includes engineers from Johns Hopkins, NC State, UPenn, and University of Oklahoma; a physics major from Middlebury College who started a bike-room to produce power on campus; a Duke varsity football player who started his own textbook business; and many other impressive and enterprising college seniors and recent grads. ??To see the full list of new additions to VFA’s Class of 2013, visit and keep checking back as the class grows in the coming months.

VFA in the News

In addition to Tony’s CNBC appearance, there have been plenty of great stories published about VFA recently, from mentions in national magazines to on-campus articles and op-eds.

Over the past several weeks, Venture for America appeared in the December issue of Vanity Fair as the featured charity in the “Agenda” section. Andrew Yang also recently wrote an article that was published in the Huffington Post and Business Insider about “Helping Entrepreneurs Succeed.”  CBS News is now doing research on a piece that may air early next year.  People remain very excited about our work even as we gather momentum.

Final Application Deadline for Class of 2013

Though our second application deadline just passed, we will be accepting applications for the Class of 2013 from now until our final deadline on Monday, February 18th. If you’re interested in applying or know someone who would make a great Fellow, you can access or share the VFA application at If you have questions about the application or fellowship, you can check out the FAQs page of our website or e-mail

For more info about our current Fellows and what they’re doing at their companies, see or check out our weekly Fellow spotlights.  We are also hiring internally, so if you know someone who’d like to join our team of eight, please send them our way.

How Can You Help?

Recently, Andrew Yang wrote a blog post called “The Ride So Far”, where he described the journey VFA has undergone over the past year and a half. It’s amazing that just over 18 months ago, VFA was little more than an idea, and we want to extend a sincere thank you to everyone who has been with us along the way.

Below is an excerpt from the application essay of one of our newest Fellows, Jack Farrell of Duke University:

“Throughout my time at Duke I have been convincing myself corporate finance and banking is was what I should pursue upon graduation. My parents, academic advisors, and close friends confirmed these notions as the best option for launching my working career. As a scholarship member and letterman on the football team at Duke I am required to stay in Durham over the summer to participate in team events and prepare for the upcoming season. With limited options, I found a small start-up financial services company, Investors Mosaic, five miles from Duke’s campus. I sought out the internship because I wanted to acquire the skill-set needed to become a successful analyst at a big investment bank. What I got was much more. I found my passion and learned what I really want to do is become an entrepreneur and help build businesses.

Going into work each day offered a new challenge and no two days were ever the same. One hour I would be analyzing Chipotle’s most recent 10-k report, the next I would be putting together a Facebook advertising campaign, and after that I would be in a meeting with our website developers going over changes to our product. I rallied behind the challenge of growing Investors Mosaic and did everything I could to help the business. I spent time at nights and on the weekends doing extra work, and I would ask my boss for extra projects. I did this not because I had too, but because I was driven to improve the company.

I love startups because you get out exactly what you put in. There’s no hiding from hard work. I want to be a successful entrepreneur and and contribute to America’s economy. I know Venture for America is the right first step towards achieving this.”

We’re excited to give Jack and dozens of other young entrepreneurs like him the opportunity to get the first hand experience they need to one day go on to build businesses and create jobs.

To donate and help support our next class as a year-end gift, visit Our budget for next year is approximately $1.5 Million, and we yet rely upon private donors (like you) for all of our funding. To see all of our current donors, click here.

We wish you and your families a Happy Holidays and New Year! We’re looking forward to another big year in 2013.

All the Best,
The VFA Team 


 follow on Twitter | friend on Facebook | connect on LinkedIn | forward to a friend

If you aren’t already receiving our newsletter and would like to, scroll to the bottom of this page to subscribe under “VFA Updates”.