Exceptions & Expectations

Fellowship Exception Policy

As a requirement of the Venture For America (VFA) Fellowship, Fellows must be employed by an approved Company Partner in a Currently Active VFA City. Occasionally, Fellows may:

    1. Need or choose to move to a non-VFA city (any city that is not listed as one of the Currently Active VFA Cities).

    2. Work at a company that is not an approved Company Partner.

    3. Choose to leave their job before the end of the two-year Fellowship in order to work full-time on their own company.

If any of these events occur, in order to remain a VFA Fellow, the Fellow must immediately submit a request for the VFA Team make an exception to this policy.

The Why

The stronger Venture For America’s presence in our cities, the more opportunities we will have to make an impact and achieve our organization’s mission. As a nonprofit, with limited resources, VFA has a responsibility to focus support on those Fellows enacting our mission. Our stakeholders expect Fellows to remain in VFA cities for the full term of the Fellowship program, to add value in those cities, and hopefully remain there to launch their own ventures/become leaders in the startup ecosystem.


Please review these guidelines to determine your eligibility for exception prior to submitting the appropriate Fellowship Exception Request Form. While these guidelines set the standard by which Venture For America will make Fellow exception decisions, VFA will evaluate each exception request on its own merits, and VFA retains the right to make decisions at our sole discretion. After reading this document, if you decide you would like to continue with your exception request, please fill out the appropriate Exception Request form below:

General Fellow Exception form

Fellow Founder form

Alternatively, if the circumstances associated with your exception request are temporary, a request for a Leave of Absence from the Fellowship may be more appropriate. To learn more about VFA’s Leave of Absence policy, please follow this link.

VFA will:

Always make an exception if: (ONE or BOTH can apply):

  • You had to move to a non-VFA city because your approved VFA Company Partner employer decided to relocate, and your employment is contingent upon you moving to a non-VFA city with the company.

  • You need to move to a non-VFA city to manage significant personal hardship (i.e. health or family) AND your employer has already agreed to let you work remotely. Please make sure to provide a detailed context of the hardship in your request so VFA has the full context for the case.

Consider making an exception if: (ALL must apply to be considered):

  • You lost your job for reasons outside of your control (i.e. company downsizing, company pivot, etc.) OR You had to leave due to a toxic work culture (i.e. abusive team members/manager, feeling unsafe at work, etc.)

  • You focused your job search efforts on finding a new opportunity in a VFA city.

  • You have communicated regularly with your VFA team contact about your job search progress AND have consistently received positive reviews from your manager, team, or VFA.

  • You are an active member of the VFA community in at least 2 of the following areas:

      • City Leadership Council

      • Planning committee for a local VFA-centric event

      • Helped with a virtual/in-person VFA training

      • Welcome Buddy or Fellow mentor

      • Participant in Launch programming

      • Recruitment/Selection volunteer

      • Rise lead

      • Other (open to other examples of involvement)

  • Your new place of employment is a start-up.

Not make an exception:

  • You voluntarily left your job because you wanted to be in a non-VFA city/work for a non-approved Company Partner for any reason OTHER than something significant personal hardship (i.e. health or family).

  • You lost your job, and did not focus your job search efforts on finding a new opportunity with an approved Company Partner/in a VFA city.

VFA Definitions

VFA Company Partner: A growth-oriented company launched with the aim of developing a viable business model to meet a marketplace need or problem. The company should provide the Fellow with experience working is a fast-paced, agile environment.

Graduation Dates:

2019 Fellows - June 30, 2021

2020 Fellows - June 30, 2022

Active VFA cities:

  • Baltimore, MD

  • Birmingham, AL

  • Charlotte, NC

  • Cincinnati, OH*

  • Cleveland, OH

  • Columbus, OH*

  • Detroit, MI

  • Kansas City, MO

  • Miami, FL

  • New Orleans, LA

  • Philadelphia, PA

  • Pittsburgh, PA

  • San Antonio, TX

  • St. Louis, MO

  • Tulsa, OK

*VFA will no longer be placing VFA Fellows in these cities as of January 2021.

Recently Retired VFA Cities: (VFA is no longer actively placing Fellows in these markets)

  • Atlanta, GA

  • Denver, CO

  • Nashville, TN

  • Providence, RI