Cities with struggling economies will get an infusion of young energy later this year when 50 aspiring entrepreneurs begin two-year apprenticeships in Detroit, New Orleans, and Providence, R.I. The new idea is called Venture for America, but an apt tagline might be The Charlie Plan.

When Charlie Kroll was an undergraduate at Brown University, he had his sights set on a banking career. He shifted gears after a coveted internship fell through. Before graduation, Kroll started his own web...

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