Press Release: Virtual Enterprises International Receives $750K from The New York Life Foundation

By September 15, 2022 September 20th, 2022 News, Press Release, VE-JV

Donation Will Support its VE-Junior Ventures (JV) Career Academy

NEW YORK, September 15, 2022 — Virtual Enterprises International (VEI), a national education nonprofit that transforms students through its programs in simulated business ownership, today announced that it has received a three-year $750K grant from the New York Life Foundation to expand its successful Junior Ventures Career Academy (VE-JV) and support VEI in its goals to reach 40,000 middle school youth through afterschool and summer school programming.

The grant, titled “Within Their Reach: Empowering Today’s Youth and Tomorrow’s Workforce,” will offer schools and afterschool and summer programs serving middle school students in under-resourced communities with high-quality career exploration and career development learning experiences that prepare them for a successful high school transition.  

The VE-JV Career Academy offers middle level students the opportunity to launch and manage a simulated business that replicates the structure, practices, and demands of a real company. In addition to building early career awareness, the Junior Ventures Career Academy enables students to develop skills in leadership, communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, business practices, and technology through hands-on learning experiences while building  self-esteem connected to social and emotional learning (SEL). 

Through the VE-JV in-school program, students are involved in all aspects of running a business – from marketing, sales, and human resources to accounting, finance, and IT. Students fill different company positions including department managers and executive suite positions and utilize the full VE banking system as well as attend trade shows and competitions representing their business. 

Since 2015, when VE-JV was launched in five pilot schools in New York City, the program has grown to include over 90 schools in 59 cities nationwide and prepares more than 10,000 students for success in high school and beyond each year.

The New York Life Foundation, which recognizes systemic inequities in the educational system, has a 43-year history of supporting programs that benefit young people not only in areas of educational enhancement, but also in childhood bereavement and social justice. VEI has been the recipient of the New York Life Foundation’s generous financial and employee-volunteer support since the inception of its VE-JV program in 2015. 

“The Junior Ventures Program (VE-JV) provides youth in middle school with early career awareness and helps foster important skills that are needed for the modern workforce.  Middle school is a critical time in a young person’s academic and social development,” said Marlyn Torres, senior program officer for the New York Life Foundation. “Virtual Enterprises and their Junior Ventures program, VE-JV puts middle school students on a path to realize their full potential.”

“When I came into VE in the 7th grade, I was shy and didn’t speak much.  I didn’t like talking to adults or in public.  As I talked more in VE, I became more confident in myself and I am now able to speak on the spot and do presentations,” said Sara V., a student at William McKinley Junior High School in Brooklyn, New York. “In VE, we learn many skills – from communication to leadership to public speaking, so I get to improve on these skills which will help me create a career path for myself.” 

“The New York Life Foundation’s generous support allows us to build on the success of the in-school VE-JV program and reach tens of thousands of middle school-aged youth through afterschool and summer school programming,” said Iris Blanc, founder of Virtual Enterprises International. Musa Ali Shama, President of VEI added, “We want to provide as many students as we can with the opportunity to develop the in-demand skills and competencies that employers are seeking while they develop an entrepreneurial mindset and test-drive possible future careers.”

About the New York Life Foundation

Inspired by New York Life’s tradition of service and humanity, the New York Life Foundation has, since its founding in 1979, provided over $390 million in charitable contributions to national and local nonprofit organizations. The Foundation supports programs that benefit young people, particularly in the areas of educational enhancement, childhood bereavement and social justice. The Foundation also encourages and facilitates the community involvement of employees and agents of New York Life through its Volunteers for Good program and Grief-Sensitive Schools Initiative. To learn more, please visit

About VE

Virtual Enterprises International (VE) is a national educational nonprofit that transforms students through authentic business experiences into business savvy young professionals with an entrepreneurial mindset, preparing them for fulfilling, financially secure futures. Since Virtual Enterprises’ (VE) inception in 1996, it has served over 200,000 high school students, including many from underserved communities. Building on the success of the high school program, VE introduced the VE-JV Career Academy in 2015, a two-year middle school program that enables students to develop technology and entrepreneurial skills by starting and managing business ventures. We currently support 20,000 students annually across the U.S. each year and are part of a global network spanning 40 countries and over 7,000 student-run businesses. Learn more about VE on our website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn pages.

For VEI:
Rossana Weitekamp