Q. What is the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!)?
A. YEA! is a fun and exciting class that guides middle and high school students through the process of starting their own REAL business or nonprofit organization, and teaches them how to make a job – not just take a job! Students learn as much about self-esteem, personal potential and leadership skills as they do about budgeting, planning and production, and have an opportunity to work directly with, and learn from, business leaders in each local community that YEA! serves 11-18 year olds start as students and graduate as CEOs!
Q. What do students do in YEA!?
A. YEA! students do everything that an adult would do who is starting a real business – everything is experiential! They go through the process of identifying and finessing their big idea, writing a formal business plan, presenting their plan to a live panel of investors for their start-up capital funding, and then actually launch their business! From registering their DBAs to filing tax returns, YEA! students do everything an adult would do who is starting their own real business.
Q. How long has the program existed?
A. The Young Entrepreneurs Academy began with one class at the University of Rochester in 2004 with support from the Kauffman Foundation. YEA! is expanding nationwide to help students across our country launch and live the American Dream!
Q. What percentage of YEA! students graduate high school, and attend college?
A. 100% of YEA! graduates graduate high school on time and 95% of those eligible enroll in secondary education.
Q. Who are YEA! students?
A. Successful YEA! students are dedicated, focused, and passionate about business. They have a drive to succeed and are energetic and enthusiastic. 49% of YEA! students are female and 56% are underrepresented minorities.
Q. What is the goal of the program?
A. YEA!’s direct mission is to help students embrace their passion, energy, creativity and talents, launch a venture, and view entrepreneurship and social innovation as synonymous with success and freedom.
Q. What are some examples of businesses that YEA! students have started in the past?
A. Some examples of businesses YEA! students have launched include:
- Young & Fit Forever – Elishia Ortiz combined her love of dance with her desire to end childhood obesity to make her company’s first product, an exercise DVD for little kids that is now selling in 13 Wegmans Supermarkets.
- Intel 4 India – Ani Patel was struck by the inequity of education in rural India and was inspired to create a business that sets up fluent English teachers with a webcam, fax machine and laptop so they can teach students in rural villages across the country. Over 500 students have enrolled in Intel 4 India, and Ani has been even been featured in Success Magazine and Newsweek.
- Bragg’s Fine Swine – Joe Bragg raises healthy, vaccinated, free-range pigs and sells them, along with recipes, to local butchers.
- Brazeau Engines – Matthew Brazeau’s company makes electric skateboards.
- Seniors To Seniors – Shryea Patel’s company offers classes for senior citizens ages sixty and over that provide new and different activities combined with a fun and interesting learning experience. Classes promote socialization, bonding, and exploration and include sessions such as art, technology lessons, book clubs, board games, and more.
- UrLocker – Jason Shanley creates decorative covers for your school locker which not only allow students to personalize their locker, but it actually protects the locker as well. Jason won a $30,000 college scholarship in the YEA! Saunders Scholars Bright Ideas Business Plan competition.
Q. How are the classes structured?
A. Throughout the course and curriculum, students receive weekly instruction on various matters relating to the process of starting and running a business or social movement. Students are faced with all the components of starting a successful business, which includes financing, marketing, and selling the product or service idea. Students also benefit from an array of local entrepreneurs as guest speakers who present on various entrepreneurial related topics linked to specific lessons, and students as a class take field trips to local businesses seeing the real-world application of what they’re learning in the classroom.
Q. What role does the community play in YEA?
A. YEA! strengthens the community and the community strengthens YEA!. Students are able to network with and develop relationships with local business leaders, create jobs, and launch businesses in their own backyard. Students see that they can make a difference within the communities in which they live. The enthusiasm and success of the students are empowering for the entire community!
About the Young Entrepreneurs Academy
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy, or YEA!, is a groundbreaking educational program that takes students in grades six through twelve through the process of starting and running real businesses over the course of a full academic year. Students work in close cooperation with local leaders of industry, community members, and educators to develop ideas and objectives, write business plans, pitch potential investors, obtain funding, register with governmental agencies, develop their brand identity and much more! By the end of the class, students own and operate fully functioning businesses that can be carried on after graduation. Students learn to make a job–not just take a job! YEA!’s direct mission is to help students embrace their passion, energy, creativity and talents, launch a venture, and view entrepreneurship as synonymous with success and freedom. In 2008, YEA! spun-off from the University of Rochester, where it was formed in 2004 with support from the Kauffman Foundation, to create its own not-for-profit corporation, YEA! Inc., which is currently launching sites in colleges, universities and high schools across the country to provide comprehensive, exciting entrepreneurship education, leadership development and innovation training to youth between the ages of 11 and 18 years old in the United States thereby making the program available to students at a variety of geographical regions, and providing them with skills they need to succeed in the 21st Century. For more information about the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, contact Terri Ramos at (850) 206-7538 or visit www.yeausa.org.