New Fund Supports Gen Y Entrepreneurs

Last Updated Oct 31, 2011 8:23 AM EDT

Last week, President Obama grabbed headlines by announcing new programs to help young people handle their ever-increasing student loan burden, including a more generous loan repayment plan and the option to consolidate federal loans at a lower interest rate. But another program to assist Gen Y in finding their professional footing flew a little lower under the radar - a startup accelerator aimed specifically at Gen Y run by the private Young Entrepreneur Council called the Gen Y Fund.

The Washington Post explains the details deep into an article about President Obama's other announcements:
The fund encourages young students to think about launching start-ups and entrepreneurial ventures at a relatively young age, and in exchange, these students get a number of nice perks: housing expenses covered, three years of debt forgiveness when they graduate, and mentoring as they go about launching new companies, and a nice chunk of equity (ranging between $15,000 and $50,000) to get things started. To top it all off, they still get to attend four-year schools like Princeton and Georgetown at the same time as they are being supported by the Gen Y Fund.
My BNET colleague Steve Tobak may feel that Gen Y entrepreneurship will be a disaster but the administration and plenty in business clearly disagree with him, believing that Gen Y is well positioned to come up with the business ideas of tomorrow. The fund aims to relieve their financial burdens while they get these jobs and prosperity-boosting ideas off the ground.

YEC isn't the first organization to bet that young entrepreneurs are a potential driver of growth. Venture for America, a program modeled on Teach for America, is trying to lure young Americans to struggling urban areas to apprentice at startups, hoping that their energy and optimism will benefit not only the small businesses the organization places them with but also the communities around them.

Meanwhile, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel's much discussed "20 Under 20" program is paying young people to drop out of school and start businesses. A big promoter of the idea that the college costs are out of control and our system of higher education in general is not serving many young people well, Thiel is part of a wave in interest in apprenticeship-style programs that offer an alternative to the usual combination of a four-year degree of questionable value and mountain of student loans.

If you're intrigued with the Gen Y Fund, check out this short interview with YEC founder and author of Never Get a "Real" Job Scott Gerber on BNET's sister site MoneyWatch.

Read More on BNET: (Image courtesy of Flickr user rachaelvoorhees, CC 2.0)
  • Jessica Stillman On Twitter»

    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.

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