Announcing: Venture For America and Founders Pledge International

By Amy Nelson, CEO

This year at VFA’s Alumni Reunion, we announced an initiative that will allow Alumni to continue to invest in the future of Venture For America while building companies that matter. We have launched an official partnership with Founders Pledge International which will enable VFA Alumni (and supporters!) to pledge a portion of their personal earnings to Venture For America, should they have a liquidity event. There are a host of benefits to this partnership, which you can read about here, but the most important thing for me is the symbolic value of VFA Alumni coming together to commit to continuing to strengthen our organization.

David Goldberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Founders Pledge shares, “Founders Pledge is delighted to partner with Venture for America. Our aim is always to work with like-minded organizations that share our commitment to a clear vision and sense of purpose, and demonstrate value by measuring the impact of their work. The partnership is genuinely symbiotic. The Founders Pledge commitment helps Venture For America drive real engagement among a new generation of entrepreneurs, building social purpose into their journey from the very beginning. While for us, the partnership allows us to talk to a budding new pool of talent, growing our global community.”

Dan Bloom (Cincinnati, 2012), the co-founder of Slope, helped lead the charge to rally Alumni around the effort, sharing his testimonial on why he is making a five year pledge to VFA after the acquisition of his company. Beyond paying it forward to an organization that supported Slope every step along the way, Dan emphasized how important it is for Alumni to shape the future of VFA — and the most powerful way they can do that is by, over time, becoming our largest source of revenue. This will allow VFA to be fully community-driven and stay true to our Mission and Credo well into the future. 

I am proud to share that 100% of the Founders/equity holders from the Class of 2012 committed to giving back to VFA in the future. Their quotes and testimonials are below. It is my hope that their leadership inspires founders and community members from other classes as well as longtime and new supporters to follow suit. 


Quotes from the Class of 2012: 


“VFA shot me down a path of creativity, risk taking, and action-oriented value creation. Without the organization and its powerful network, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. I’m happy to join my peers in giving back to VFA in the future.”  

Mike Mayer, Windmill


“I’m giving back to VFA out of so much gratitude for the support, both during and post-fellowship, and for introducing me to my favorite city, my co-founder and some of my best friends.” 

Mark Bernstein, Magnolia


“VFA basically invented my company! I am 100% committed to giving back to this community when GEM takes off!” 

Sara Cullen, GEM


Pledging to give was an easy choice—great people, great mission. Also the better VFA does the better it makes all of us look. Let’s get this bread!” 

Sean Pennino, TeeSpring / Facebook


“I’m giving back to VFA because it instilled in me that, among other things, value creation is how to measure achievement and that striving to create opportunities for others is a worthy cornerstone of a career. The experience I had in VFA directly contributed to the opportunity I now have as the CEO of a 50-employee company. I want to help ensure that VFA can empower generations of young Americans to create jobs and build real value across the country.”

Derek Turner, IMS Infrastructure


“VFA is a huge part of the person that I have developed into. Giving of myself to help the next generation of VFAers is an opportunity to pay it forward.” 

Brentt Baltimore, Greycroft


“I’m giving back to VFA because it had the single biggest influence in preparing me for my career. After majoring in Environment Studies without a clear path forward, VFA gave me the opportunity to sample different roles and experiences while being supported by an incredible community of peers. Without all of VFA’s support, I would not have been able to start a company, get initial traction, raise funding, or get acquired.” 

Brian Bosche, Slope


“VFA was undoubtedly the most influential driver of my career. I went from pursuing a job in consulting to running a multi-million dollar consumer product business as a direct result of my involvement in the fellowship. They’ve also been there at every stage of Zest Tea’s development, including being the first money in. I want to make sure this is an opportunity for future generations. That is why I’m giving back.” 

James Fayal, Zest Tea 


“Had VFA come into existence just one year later, who knows where I’d be now. VFA gave me the encouragement I needed to go straight into entrepreneurship instead of the conventional “gain traditional business experience then think about taking risk” route. The virtues of charitable giving have been instilled in me from a young age and I’m honored to take part in giving back to and through VFA.” 

Max Eisenberg, ActionStreamer


“VFA gave me the confidence to start a business. The program was my support network during Banza’s earliest and most critical days. I am forever grateful. Giving back is something I am excited to do.”

Brian Rudoph, Banza


When I think about the legacy I want to have at Venture For America, it is two-fold. First, I want VFA to be the go-to path for diverse, young entrepreneurs to launch and scale businesses. Second, I want to leave the organization on a path to being self-sustaining so that it can be an engine for job creation well into the future without having to rely on constant infusions of philanthropy. These pledges will help lay that pathway for generations of VFA Fellows to come.

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