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Startup Culture

A Talent Transfusion for Scrappy Startup Hubs

VfA Fellows brainstorm during a pre-deployment "boot camp" in Providence

VFA Fellows brainstorm during a pre-deployment “boot camp” in Providence, RI.

Maybe millennials aren’t as selfish as people think. Some college grads are turning down high salaries in finance and consulting for entry level positions at startups in cities like Detroit, New Orleans, and Baltimore—where they can have an impact on the community while also learning important entrepreneurial skills. They are doing so with the help of Venture for America, a nonprofit that matches highly talented graduates with startup businesses in cities that need an economic boost, The New York Times reports.

Founder Andrew Yang says that the program aims to improve talent allocation among bright college graduates. “Promising growth companies, companies that are five years old or less, are the consistent engine of job creation in this country,” he told Techonomy in an interview last fall. “The odds of a really smart young graduate going to an organization like that are really low. Those firms don’t have resources or brand equity, they generally don’t pay very well, they’re high risk, and parents have never heard of them.”

Now in its second year, Venture for America will have 108 fellows working at 70 start-ups by August. This could prove game-changing for cities like Detroit, where innovation is essential for boosting economic growth, job creation, and urban revival (all topics that will be discussed at the Techonomy Detroit conference in September). Yang believes the program could help create a cycle of entrepreneurship when these fellows start their own companies and attract even more talent to the regions.

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