Startups
layoffs / Startups

Amid restructuring, Venture for America has laid off 7

The changes, driven by the nonprofit's new strategic plan, focus on serving its nationwide fellows, per CEO Eric Somerville.

The 2022 class of Venture for America. (Courtesy Venture for America)
Full disclosure: Technical.ly and Venture for America have both received grant funding from the City of Philadelphia as part of the PHL: Most Diverse Tech Hub initiative.
Update: Additional comment from CEO Eric Somerville and mention of Venture for America's publicly listed employee count have been added. (10/27/23, 4:10 p.m.)

Venture for America (VFA), a national nonprofit with a two-year fellowship for cohorts of young potential founders, is entering a new phase of growth, according to CEO Eric Somerville.

As part of the transition, several members of the VFA staff saw their jobs eliminated, with some pivoting into new positions and others — seven in all — being let go.

Somerville said that the changes were driven by VFA’s 2022 strategic plan, which is publicly accessible through its website.

The new strategic plan “led us to the realization that in order to achieve our vision, we needed to reimagine how we’re supporting our growing number of Fellows, and ensure that more Fellows have the opportunity to convert their visions into ventures as startup founders,” Somerville told Technical.ly in an email statement. “To do this, we shifted our organizational structure to increase efficiency and ensure we can scale effectively. We firmly believe this shift will allow us to provide more consistent — and robust — national programming focused on developing an entrepreneurial mindset and experiential learning for our Fellows.”

Founded by businessman-turned-politician Andrew Yang in 2011, VFA recruits college grads to work for two years at emerging startups and early-stage companies in over a dozen cities in the US.

In 2020, VFA was one of four organizations, including Technical.ly, to share $500,000 in investment from the City of Philadelphia as part of the PHL: Most Diverse Tech Hub (MDTH) initiative. That investment was re-upped in 2022 and 2023. VFA has also worked within and directly impacted companies in Technical.ly markets Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

Somerville shared that as part of the restructuring, the organization also created seven new roles. This included launching a strategic partnerships team, “increasing capacity” within its development department, growing its company partnerships team, adding a director of entrepreneurship role and growing its venture growth team.

“Though some staff will be departing Venture For America, several other impacted staff will be taking on these newly created roles,” Somerville said. “We’re grateful for the contributions of our Team and the Venture For America community, and we’re excited about what the future holds for our organization.”

The CEO did not immediately specify what roles have been eliminated, nor if the changes represent a deemphasizing of the program’s focus on 13 cities, though the new strategic plan mentions it will “redefine and execute City Director role to support Fellow in-city experience and connection to local ecosystems.”

Forty people are listed as staffers on VFA’s “About” page as of Friday afternoon.

In a follow-up email to Technical.ly after this story was published, Somerville added: “Local community building in the cities where we operate is remains an important focus. Fellows will still have support to build community in their cities and — through our Strategic Partnerships Team — we’ll be building more resources to improve their ability to access and navigate entrepreneurial ecosystems.”

Companies: Venture for America

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