Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
The most valuable thing we’ve created at Venture For America is our community – made up of our Fellows and Alumni, supporters, friends and the VFA Team. Our community is so powerful because we encourage each other to be authentic, to bring our whole selves to VFA, to learn and grow from each other, and to strive to become a better versions of ourselves by challenging assumptions and learning from others with different perspectives and experiences.
To that end, in 2017, we committed ourselves to being a true onramp to entrepreneurship by explicitly adding diversity, equity and inclusion to our organizational priorities in our strategic plan. This commitment informs and guides everything we do – from the Fellows we recruit and how they experience our program, to the companies and cities that we partner with, to the people we hire to join us in executing this mission
Read on to see what our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion looks like in action.
For Applicants into the Fellowship
We want our Fellowship to reflect the diversity of talent, skills, and ideas of the country as a whole, and we know that starts with who we recruit and select into our program. We are committed to recruiting and selecting a diverse class of Fellows–representing all ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, disabilities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Part of our efforts to recruit a diverse applicant pool include our partnerships with the following organizations to identify the best, most diverse talent to recruit into our Fellowship:
For Our Fellows and Alumni
Once selected into VFA, we want all of our Fellows to thrive, both as part of our community and as startup employees and entrepreneurs. The more diverse the viewpoints and experiences of our Fellows, the stronger and more inclusive our community becomes.
In service of that commitment, we’ve created VFA Rise, a coalition of diversity, equity, and inclusion resource groups for Fellows and alums. It exists to empower, provide opportunities, and create a formal community space for Fellows and alumni who identify as members of underrepresented groups in entrepreneurial and innovation communities or are subject to marginalization. VFA Rise groups are spearheaded by Fellows with support and resources provided by the VFA Team. This includes a yearly budget, which funds educational and community building programs for each of the groups.Learn more about VFA Rise
For Our Company Partners
Our commitment to diversity is based on our desire to strengthen communities through entrepreneurship. Study after study has shown that diverse teams are more effective, are better equipped to generate innovative solutions to problems, create better products and services, and ultimately, are more successful. Connecting our startup partners with a diverse talent pool allows them to reap these benefits, which positively impacts the communities where they operate. We work to partner with entrepreneurs and founders from diverse backgrounds in order to provide our Fellows better opportunities to learn and grow from those who have overcome similar obstacles and found their way to entrepreneurship.
To support our goals here, we provide coaching to both our Fellows and Company Partners. Our Fellows learn how to navigate the startup job search process, including interview preparation, resume writing, and making the case for their candidacy for a role. For our Company Partners, we require a commitment to creating an inclusive work environment and we will build out resources on how to build a diverse team.
For Our Cities
We honor the vibrant cultures that already exist in the cities where we work. We aim to partner with and add to the current of innovation that is already flowing in our cities. Our goal is to help create high-quality jobs that strengthen the local economies.
For Our Team & Supporters
To best deliver on our commitment, we know that our Team and supporters must also be diverse. We strive to ensure that our boards–both national and regional–reflect the makeup of our communities and embody the variety of viewpoints and experiences that exist in those groups.
If you know someone who cares deeply about VFA’s mission or a particular VFA city, especially if they can help broadening the diversity of perspectives represented on our boards, reach out to us.Email us
Our Opportunity in Diversity
Ultimately, what we’ve created at VFA represents a unique community and opportunity. For our Fellows, we are an on-ramp into careers in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship, particularly for communities that have been historically excluded. For our Company Partners, we are a source of high quality talent. For our Cities, we are a partner in their work. For our Team and Supporters, an opportunity to make an impact and push our mission forward alongside passionate professionals.
Our aim is to leave everything we touch better than we found it – our Fellowship stronger, our Company Partners more competitive, our Cities more prosperous, and the entrepreneurship industry as a whole more diverse, inclusive and welcoming.
Operation 3 to 300
Venture For America, UBS & Uber partner to help 300 women and people of color become entrepreneurs
At the 2019 Social Innovation Summit, Venture For America announced its new initiative, Operation 3 to 300, to help 300 women and people of color become entrepreneurs over the next three years. Joined in this effort by UBS and Uber, VFA has set a goal to change the face of entrepreneurship.
“There are too many barriers to entrepreneurship and not enough incentives. To help someone start a business you have to invest in their idea and validate them early. Early stage support can be a game-changing catalyst for a young person starting a company. We’re incredibly excited to partner with high-powered and influential brands like Uber and UBS to directly invest in women and people of color in our program.” – Amy Nelson, CEO of Venture For AmericaRead more