Imagine having the ability to fund a fellowship to teach tomorrow’s community leaders about entrepreneurship, innovation, and leadership with the click of a button. Doesn’t it sound better than riding a bicycle for 3,700 miles during a three-month, cross-country odyssey?

We thought so.

The wheels are in motion for Steve Mercil of the Appalachian Investors Alliance to embark on a cross-country bicycle journey to fund a fellowship for young adults in communities around the U.S.  

The Fellowships will:

Equip the next generation of diverse leaders with an entrepreneurial mentality.

Bring economic opportunities to communities.

Pay it forward to future generations by creating awareness of innovation and the importance of leadership.

We’re seeking donations per mile completed. Proceeds will go directly to the fellowship fund, to be used for paid fellowships in communities around the U.S.

Follow the Ride Across America


Follow Steve with updated posts and photos along his journey across America.
Steve will be visiting cities from Oregon to Maine over 3 months, traveling 3700 miles.

The Route:
The journey will begin on Labor Day west of Portland, OR and winds its way through Montana following much of the Lewis and Clark Trail into North Dakota. The route east of North Dakota follows parts of the Adventure Cycle Association’s Northern Tier Cycling through Minnesota, Wisconsin, across Michigan, along the south shore of Lake Erie, through New York across to Portland Maine.


The Ride is a celebration of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Leadership, Community Across America.

Steve will be posting interviews with entrepreneurs, community leaders, and people he meets along the way. 
Steve is available to speak about Angel Investing, Entrepreneurship and Community Development as he travels.

View Steve’s You Tube channel for more information and interviews about the ride. 

Follow The Journey With Our Daily Vlogs


Q: What is the purpose of the Fellowship?

A: Steve is looking to equip the next generation of diverse leaders with an entrepreneurial business mentality. Once equipped with this knowledge, it’s his vision that the Fellows will bring opportunities to their communities and pay it forward to future generations.

Q: What organization will manage my donation and the Fellowship Program?

Your donations will be deposited in a reserve account to exclusively support the Fellowship Program  managed by the Appalachian Investors Alliance (AIA). AIA is non-profit educational foundation working to revitalize the region’s economy by facilitating community-based, self-reinforcing economic and workforce development through entrepreneur readiness.  The AIA provides technical services to community-minded angel investors and committed entrepreneurs. Fellows will be selected and managed by the AIA and their affiliated partners around the country.

Q: How will the Fellows benefit?

A: Fellows will get exposure to and understanding of angel investing, leadership, and entrepreneurship. They will experience the ins and outs of raising capital in real time. Fellows will literally be in the room with investors and entrepreneurs.

Q: What is the commitment to the Fellows?

A: Those awarded a Fellowship will receive a paid apprenticeship for six months or more with angel investment groups around the country. The training and apprenticeship will be provided and managed by the Appalachian Investors Alliance (AIA).


Q: Who can apply for the fellowship?

A: Initially, full-time college students were the targeted group, but the target has since expanded and will be open to those in their 20s-30s as well as those looking to start a new chapter in their lives and serve the communities where they live and in surrounding areas.

The pandemic has created lots of crises for people of all ages and backgrounds; it is our intention to turn these crises into opportunities.

Q:What are the qualifications needed to apply for a Fellowship?

A: The qualifications start with a commitment to participating in the Fellowship program for a year (including when school is in session) at assigned established investor groups in his/her region. It would be helpful to have experience in leadership (whether it is in the community, a business, or other setting) and a genuine curiosity about business, investing and volunteerism.

The biggest asset for an applicant is vision; those looking to give back and help communities with ethics and integrity will be given top consideration.

Q:When will the Fellowship program start?

A: Application and instructions to apply for the Fellowships will be available on the Appalachian Investors Alliance (AIA) website Q1 2022. Selections will be made in Q2 2022. Fellowships are scheduled to begin July 1, 2022.

Resource and References