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Venture for America Boosts Entrepreneurs

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- An initiative hopes to boost the allure of entrepreneurship in economically challenged U.S. cities by offering jobs to recent college graduates.

Venture for America, based loosely on the popular Teach for America, aims to direct more of the country's recently graduated, unemployed top talent into entrepreneurship.

The Venture for America initiative hopes to help economically challenged U.S. cities as well as job-challenged graduates.

College seniors or graduates can apply to become Venture for America fellows starting this month. The organization plans to accept a minimum 50 students from the Class of 2012 and place them at jobs in three economically challenged cities: New Orleans, Detroit and Providence, R.I. The program will expand to other cities as well.

"There is a massive talent war. Consulting firms and banks are rolling out the red carpet and we think that these paths bring people away from environments of impact, like these companies in Detroit that need smart help," says Andrew Yang, the initiative's founder and president. "We're really excited about providing that runway."

Yang wants to offer recent college grads what basically amounts to an apprenticeship at small startups.

Companies are required to keep a fellow on for two years (assuming there are no major issues). Starting salaries are meager -- roughly $32,000 to $38,000, Venture for America says -- but at the end of the two years, companies can rehire the employee under new terms.

But that's when the fellow found to have performed the best will get $100,000 in either seed investment for a new venture or support for his or her company. Yang expects to work with more angel investors and venture capital firms to award multiple grants.

"The idea is that these people stick to entrepreneurship and contribute to the success of small businesses," he says.

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