“There’s a supply and a demand. We just need to connect the two sides,” he wrote in a letter announcing the group, which he said would resemble Teach for America, the nonprofit that recruits graduates to teach in low-income schools.
“Our stated goal is to generate 100,000 U.S. jobs by 2025,” he wrote.
The idea drew widespread attention from the news media, including The Times, and donations poured in — mostly from big banks, including UBS and Barclays, as well as from Dan Gilbert, the head of Quicken Loans, and Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, the online shoe retailer.
In 2012, Venture for America selected its first class, 31 men and nine women.
The group trained them at a monthlong boot camp at Mr. Yang’s undergraduate alma mater, Brown University, and then helped them apply to work for two years as fellows at start-ups in Cincinnati, Detroit, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Providence, R.I.
The start-ups paid the fellows up to $38,000 a year, and gave $5,000 to the nonprofit. Many companies jumped at the chance to land top talent at a bargain rate. Venture for America encouraged fellows to come up with their own business ideas, offering to help them find funding.
Soon, Venture for America began recruiting much larger classes of fellows and expanding to more cities as Mr. Yang raised more money — and made increasingly large declarations about the success of the program.
While leading Venture for America, Mr. Yang ultimately told donors the organization had already created as many as 5,000 jobs. While running for president, when critics questioned the claims of success, he said it had created thousands of jobs.