VFA Rise

About VFA Rise

VFA Rise exists to empower, provide opportunities, and create a formal community space for Fellows and Alumni who identify with groups that are underrepresented in entrepreneurial and innovation communities.

VFA Rise is a partnership among Fellows, Alumni, the VFA Team, and our larger network. The program is spearheaded by the individual groups that fall under the VFA Rise umbrella with support from the VFA Programs team.


build21 is an empowerment network for Fellows/Alumni of African-American, Afro-Caribbean & African descent to directly connect personally and professionally with each other and experienced entrepreneurs of color in the high-growth entrepreneurial ecosystem, globally.

Co-Leads: Tagan Horton, Donte' Verrill-Huffman

Team Advisor: Andrew Albert

To Contact Leads: build21leads@ventureforamerica.org

Resource Guide


As Venture for America’s community group for LGBTQ individuals and allies, VentureOut’s mission is to promote sexual orientation and gender identity diversity within VFA and the startup ecosystems in which VFA operates.

Co-Leads: Nybria Acklin, Alexander Blackson

Team Advisor: Alyson Stemas

To Contact Leads: ventureoutleads@ventureforamerica.org

Resource Guide

Antha Prerna

VFA Antha Prerna is intended for Fellows and Alums who identify as South Asian or South Asian American to discuss race and identity in both professional and personal contexts. Antha Prerna (Unthuh Prayer-na) is a sanskrit phrase meaning "self motivated" and "entrepreneurial" which is where the word entrepreneur originated.

Co-Leads: Adeel Afshar, Jarui Desai, Pratik Patel, Amit Patel

Team Advisor: Alyson Stemas

To Contact Leads: vfaapleads@ventureforamerica.org

Resource Guide


VFA WMN is a community of women and allies who come together to provide resources, support, and space for conversation to empower women in VFA to meet their personal and professional goals.

Co-Leads: Caitlin Jones, Justine Kim, Brittany Eshelman, Brianna Dzuricsko, Emily Miller

Team Advisor: Carson Koser

To Contact Leads:


Resource Guide


Latinx is a resource group intended to connect fellows who identify as Latino/Latina/Latinx in order to create space for dialogue on the intersection between identity and professional development.

Co-Leads: Norman Matos, Jacquelyn Aguilera, Maria Elena Guijarro Aguirre, Miguel Avila, Gideon Kotkowski, and Javier Melendez

Team Advisor: Rick Peña

To Contact Leads:


Resource Guide


VFA MEDAN is toolbox and community for fellows who identify as Middle Eastern or North African committed to the professional and personal development of each other in entrepreneurial environments, empowering each other through a connected network, and creating a dialogue around identity.

C0-Lead: Rana Mohamed, Rasha Bara

VFA Team Advisor: Alyson Stemas

To Contact Leads: vfamedanleads@ventureforamerica.org

Resource Guide


VFAsians is a forum for Fellows and Alumni who identify as Asian or Asian-American to discuss race and identity in both professional and personal contexts, and access resources and connections.

Co-Leads: Lucy Wan, Josh Wild, Maica Mori, Leena Chen

Team Advisor: Joel Vazquez

To Contact Leads: vfasiansleads@ventureforamerica.org

Resource Guide

Venture First

Venture First provides those who identify as first-generation college graduates and/or low-income individuals within the VFA community with professional and personal development opportunities through equitable access to mentorship, networks, and knowledge. We aim to empower one another through conversations, shared experiences, and resources.

C0-Leads: Oscar Ambrocio-Ramirez, Adriana Roman, and Brandon Thompson

VFA Team Advisor: Savannah Sodeman and Sarah Olivarez

To Contact Leads: venturefirstleads@ventureforamerica.org