Desai Sethi Foundation Social Impact Fellowship for Venture For America

As Michigan’s organizations start to pivot, re-build, and acclimate to new realities in the wake of COVID-19, many will require high-quality talent to implement this work. In response to this need, the Desai Sethi Foundation and Venture For America have partnered to create the DSF Social Impact Fellowship for VFA. Coupling Venture For America’s track record of recruiting recent college graduates who have adaptive excellence with the Desai Sethi Foundation’s commitment to improving lives of underserved individuals through entrepreneurship, this opportunity will allow the partners to provide support to organizations doing work to address the current and long-term effects of the pandemic.


How It Works

Organizations in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park that have been affected by the pandemic and that are making a positive social impact on low- to moderate-income individuals can apply to bring on a highly-vetted Fellow into a full-time role for two years. 

If awarded, organizations will pay $5,000 in year one and $10,000 in year two to work with the Fellow. Ultimately, this program will support organizations as they emerge from this crisis and respond to longer-term social impact work. The interest application deadline passed on Wednesday, June 10 at midnight.


For-profit, nonprofit and government entities must meet the following criteria to be eligible for this opportunity. Organizations must:

  • Have no more than 51 employees and be headquartered in Detroit, Hamtramck or Highland Park
  • Have a mission that includes making a positive social impact
  • Largely serve low- to moderate-income individuals in Detroit, Hamtramck or Highland Park 
  • Illustrate how COVID-19 has impacted the organization financially and/or strategically
  • Demonstrate financial need for a subsidized VFA Fellow to implement social impact work

The application review team will consist of VFA staff, current Fellows, VFA Detroit Advisory Board members, and representatives from DSF.

Informational Session

Interested organizations were able to get additional information by attending informational sessions on Wednesday, June 3 from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm or Thursday, June 4 from 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm.

When placing fellows, our main goal is to ensure they have meaningful employment experiences that help them become startup leaders and, eventually, founders. It’s also critical that organizations who hire them have a need for adaptable talent that can make an impact on day one.

– Amy Nelson, CEO, Venture For America
Step 01

June 1 - June 10

Application of Interest open to determine basic eligibility

Step 02

June 12 - June 21

Round two applications become available for semi-finalists

Step 03

June 29 - July 3

Interviews with final organizations

Step 04

July 6

Awarded organizations announced

Fellow Terms & Award Details

Fellow Terms

VFA Fellows are recent college graduates from across the country who are driven to make a difference and participate in the two-year fellowship. VFA has selected more than 200 high-vetted individuals, from a pool of over 3,000 candidates, to serve in the VFA class of 2020. Fellows are now in the process of looking for job opportunities at organizations across VFA’s 14 cities. In order to obtain a Fellow, organizations will lead a virtual hiring process via the VFA job board in order to vet and select candidates within the 2020 Fellow class, with support from the VFA Detroit Community Director.

Once a 2020 Fellow accepts an offer, they will become an employee of the Desai Sethi Foundation throughout their two-year fellowship (starting August 15, 2020 or later – June 30, 2022). DSF will then deploy Fellows to work at the awarded organization. Awarded organizations will sign a detailed memorandum of understanding agreeing to the Fellow’s job description, expected outcomes, and employment terms (i.e. at-will employment, performance review schedule, organizational structure indicating Fellow manager, commitment to a positive workplace experience, etc.). This document will be approved and signed by all parties including the awarded organization, the VFA Fellow, VFA, and DSF.


Award Details

This program will likely select five organizations to award through this opportunity. The only financial contribution awarded organizations must commit is $5,000 in year one and $10,000 in year two. Further details will be discussed with program finalists.

Organizational Development & Reporting

Awarded organizations are responsible for participating in an estimated six hours of organizational onboarding in August and VFA and DSF-coordinated check-ins, peer-workshops or technical assistance programming three times each year (estimated to take place in December, March, and June). Additionally, awarded organizations are responsible for submitting an interim and final report to VFA and DSF in August 2021 and August 2022 to illustrate the outcomes of their work.

Additional questions?

If your questions aren’t answered here, please feel free to contact VFA Director of Detroit Sarah Craft at

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