VFA Policies

About VFA

Venture For America has a responsibility to build a safe and inclusive environment for ALL of our Fellows.

Please see our Fellow Handbook or the below policies for context about what we expect from Fellows and Alumni as members of the VFA community. Below you'll find our policies on the following topics:

Anti-Violence and Harassment | Open and Inclusive Workplace Policy

Health & Safety | Press Leave of Absence | Hardship Loan | Relocation Policy

Anti-Violence and Harassment Policy

Venture For America does not tolerate harassment, threats, threatening behavior, or acts of violence by its Fellows or Alumni (emotional, verbal, physical, or other), whether sexual in nature or not.

Because VFA is not your employer, your first course of action if you experience these behaviors from another Fellow or Alum may be to report to other entities. For instance, if the Fellow or Alum engaging in the harassing, threatening, or violent behavior works with you at the same Company Partner—or is a supplier, client, or customer of your Company Partner—you should first report your concern to a manager or Human Resources representative of that company who will have the duty to investigate. If you believe you have been the victim of a crime, we encourage you to report that incident to law enforcement and to seek medical attention, if necessary. After reporting to your employer and/or other authorities, your next step is to notify VFA that an investigation is ongoing.

However, if the conduct at issue does not involve a Fellow or Alum who works at your Company Partner, and you do not believe you have been the victim of a crime, your first course of action is to report your concern to VFA directly.

Once VFA receives notice that a Fellow or Alum has committed, or has been alleged to have committed, any of the prohibited conduct above (at any time, against anyone), VFA will conduct an investigation. In the course of VFA’s investigation, VFA will take such action as VFA, in its sole discretion, deems appropriate to maintain a safe and respectful program. VFA reserves the right to report the Fellow or Alum to their Company Partner, the police, or other relevant authorities without notice, and VFA will cooperate with such authorities in any investigation in connection with the incident. Any Fellow or Alum who is found to have threatened, harassed, or perpetrated acts of violence against another Fellow or Alum may be dismissed or barred from any VFA-sponsored events and/or technology, or suspended from the VFA Fellow program. Alums may lose eligibility for VFA for Entrepreneurship programming, such as the Accelerator, any grant or investment opportunities, and participation in future VFA sponsored programming.

Open and Inclusive Workplace Policy

Venture For America requires companies that hire VFA Fellows to foster a corporate culture that is open and inclusive. All companies that interview VFA Fellows agree to this Policy as part of the Company Partner hiring agreement, with the understanding that VFA may terminate its relationship with any company. VFA’s full policy against discriminatory practices by Company Partners against Fellows can be found here, including definitions, reporting & investigatory procedures, and potential VFA actions when such practices occur. Fellows experiencing discriminatory practices - which may include but are not limited to racial slurs, unfair hiring and promotion practices, or sexual harassment - should read the policy in full and use the Inappropriate Incident Report Form to notify us of your experience.

Health and Safety Policy

Venture For America is sensitive to the struggles of mental and physical health challenges and how it may impact a Fellow’s ability to fully engage with the VFA Fellowship, their place of employment and their VFA city. However, VFA Team Members are not qualified to give medical advice. If you encounter a situation where you feel that your health or safety, or the health or safety of another Fellow is at risk, we encourage you to seek out the support of the police or an appropriately qualified healthcare provider. VFA maintains a list of national support resources available to you here. If you feel that it is also appropriate to inform VFA email safetycaptains@ventureforamerica.org. You can also submit an anonymous form here.

Helpline Resources:

Mental Health Helpline, 1-800-662-4357

Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255

Substance Abuse and Addiction Hotline, 1-888-459-5511

Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-7233

Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-656-4673

Ohio Department of Mental Health, 1-800-720-9616

If you have a financial hardship and are struggling with mental health, VFA will reimburse you for your first therapy appointment. To request reimbursement, please fill out this Financial Hardship Form prior to making your appointment.

Press Policy

If you will be interacting with someone who works in the media (like a writer for the local paper, or reporter, blogger, etc.) and discussing VFA, you must coordinate with VFA’s Communications Team in advance. That means you’re responsible for notifying VFA that the conversation is going to happen, coordinating a time to discuss it with the VFA Communications Team, and getting statements approved by VFA in advance. In the same vein, if you are contacted by a member of the media to talk about VFA or the Fellow program, please refer them to VFA’s Communications Team. Your primary contact on VFA’s Communications Team is Carson Koser (carson@ventureforamerica.org).

Leave of Absence Policy

If you face a serious personal challenge during your two-year Fellowship, VFA will consider granting a Leave of Absence (LOA) from the Fellowship so that you can focus on your personal well-being. The length of any LOA is determined on a case-by-case basis. If you request and are granted an LOA, you will remain a Fellow during the LOA and your Fellowship status will be revisited by VFA upon the completion of the LOA. During your Fellowship, if you encounter a serious personal challenge and would like to discuss a potential LOA, please first contact your Community Director and then complete this LOA form.

Hardship Loan / Grant

If you lose your job or experience other hardship due to circumstances beyond your control, you should consider what financial options make the most sense for you and be resourceful. In some circumstances, as a last resort, and in its sole discretion, VFA may be able to offer financial support to help you cover living expenses while you search for another job. That support could be structured as a one-time grant, a loan, or some combination of the two. If you lose your job due to poor performance (i.e. you are laid off or fired), Venture For America, in its sole discretion, will decide whether you are eligible for financial support. Please first email alyson.stemas@ventureforamerica.org to schedule a meeting to discuss your options and then complete this Financial Hardship Form.

Relocation Policy

With the Pandemic still surging and growing concerns about travel, we are providing a policy around relocation expectations for the remainder of the 2020 class that has not relocated to a VFA city yet.

If you have not already relocated to your designated VFA City, we expect that you will:

  • First and foremost, comply with the relocation requirements of your employer.

  • If no relocation requirements are in place by your employer AND you are not currently residing in your VFA City, it is VFA’s expectation that all VFA Fellows relocate to their VFA city within 45 days from when VFA in-person programming resumes

We will notify the entire VFA community when this occurs.

Even if you are not physically based in your VFA city, we expect full participation in all virtual programming being provided in your local city in order to be part of the local VFA community and to learn as much about the local community prior to eventually moving to your VFA city.

If there are extenuating circumstances that permit you from moving to your VFA city by the aforementioned date, please contact the Director of Programs, Alyson Stemas, immediately to discuss the details of your unique situation. We will review all requests for delayed relocation on a case-by-case basis.