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Promoting entrepreneurship for economic growth
By Jessica David / July 17, 2014 /   Loading Disqus...

Last evening, I had the pleasure of meeting 105 new Venture for America Fellows at Swipely’s office in downtown Providence. 

Venture for America’s mission is to create jobs and revitalize communities through entrepreneurship. Modeled after Teach for America, Venture for America provides a path for entrepreneurship by teaching graduates how to build and grow companies. VFA Fellows work for two years at emerging start-ups and early-stage companies. The Class of 2014 is completing its 5-week boot camp at Brown University.

The Rhode Island Foundation was VFA’s first foundation supporter, and we are proud to support its expansion in Providence. This fall, 19 Fellows from three classes will be working at 9 Rhode Island companies (Andera, Teespring, Ximedica, Focal Upright Furniture, Splitwise, Figmints, Swipely, VCharge Energy, and Social Providence

). According to Senior Development Manager Jackie Miller, Providence is an appealing destination for incoming Fellows, and Providence Fellows report the highest satisfaction levels for living and working in any VFA city. Meet two existing Providence Fellows in this video from our digital reporter Connie Grosch.


Why do we support VFA? First, their efforts to promote entrepreneurship in Rhode Island complement our focus on building a robust and sustainable business ecosystem, one of four priorities of our economic security strategic priority (along with leveraging opportunities within and across key industries, pursuing systemic improvements to the workforce development system, and promoting awareness and pride in assets). VFA has quickly become an important part of our startup community, and the Providence Fellows have integrated themselves into local entrepreneurial networks.

Plus, the growing businesses that VFA Fellows are placed in are a critical piece of our state’s current and future economy. Companies like Swipely, Teespring, and Ximedica are expanding and generating jobs. Partner companies in Rhode Island have added a total of 145 jobs since hiring VFA Fellows. Rhode Island needs more of these thriving companies. And attracting, developing, and retaining top talent are keys to Rhode Island’s future. VFA expects that a number of its Fellows will become successful entrepreneurs in their own right, and we hope they choose to do so right here in Rhode Island!

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