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Our Review of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!)

If you’re a high schooler and are interested in entrepreneurship and building your own business, then you would be aware of how dynamic and rapidly evolving the world of entrepreneurship is. There are several programs that can help you build a better understanding of what entrepreneurship entails. 

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) offers a unique opportunity to dive into the world of business and entrepreneurship before you even graduate high school - a program that we will be reviewing in detail below!

What is the Young Entrepreneurs Academy?

Founded in 2004 at the University of Rochester with support from the Kauffman Foundation, YEA! is a pre-college business and entrepreneurship program designed to make confident entrepreneurs out of middle and high school students in grades 6-12 across the country. Notably, it is nationally sponsored by the US Chamber of Commerce and Campaign for Free Enterprise, enabling multiple local chapters of YEA! to make the program accessible to students across the country. Throughout this year-long program, you will learn to generate business ideas, conduct market research, write business plans, pitch to a panel of investors, and even launch your very own companies.

YEA! aims to develop and deliver experience-based entrepreneurship programs to help you transition successfully to adulthood, pursue your entrepreneurship dreams, and create economic and social value for a better world. The program is designed to foster an entrepreneurial mindset as well as skill set.

Who is eligible for YEA?

To apply for YEA!, you should meet the following criteria:

  • Be a middle or high school student (grades 6-12).

  • Have a keen interest in business and entrepreneurship.

  • Commit to attending in-person classes once a week for 24 weeks.

How does the application process work?

While the application is common, you will be attending YEA! at one of the local chapters that are each supported by a respective Chamber of Commerce. Regardless of which chapter you choose, the steps remain the same:

  1. You will need to fill out the application form linked above.

  2. Importantly, you will need to write essay answers to two of the following four questions:

  • Why are you interested in learning about entrepreneurship?

  • If you are currently in the process of launching your own business or social movement, or if you have a creative and innovative business idea, what is it and please describe it?

  • What entrepreneurial endeavor/story, either from the past or currently, inspires you? Please describe.

  • How does passion drive an entrepreneur?

  1. You will also need to provide your academic transcript.

  2. While not explicitly stated, letters of recommendation or other materials that would showcase the strength of your application would help you with admission.

What is the cost of attending YEA?

While the application fee of $20 is common, the program fee varies by chapter and we strongly advise checking the page of the chapter you wish to attend at. The tuition at the Loudoun Chapter is $950 for example, whereas the Manhattan Beach Chapter charges $895. The deadlines, class timings, and program dates also vary slightly by chapter.

How is YEA structured?

YEA! lasts for 24 weeks from October to May, with the next batch starting in October 2024. Each local chapter has slightly different dates, but in every case, classes are held once a week. During these 24 weeks, you'll work on actual business ideas and learn about:

  • Business plan development.

  • Pitching to investors.

  • Managing business expenses and income.

  • Different types of business structures.

  • Legal aspects like taxes and business registration.

The program includes field trips, guest lectures from successful entrepreneurs, and networking opportunities with local partners and sponsors. Importantly, you will also get to participate in the Saunders Scholars Competition. Funded by the E. Philip Saunders College of Business at the Rochester Institute of Technology, the competition is essentially an investor panel or “shark tank” competition that allows you to first compete locally, then nationally, for scholarships and seed funding.

Is it prestigious?

YEA! is distinguished by being sponsored by the US Chamber of Commerce. It's a prestigious program known for its selectivity and the quality of education and experience it offers. Each chapter has a limited cohort size of only a couple dozen students at a time, ensuring personalized attention and a high-quality experience for each participant. The success stories of the alumni coming out of YEA! are numerous, with previous participants and winners launching products, services, and websites that have then gone on to be featured in the Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, Shark Tank, and the like. The fact that the program is open to students across the country and has a relatively low entry fee ensures that the peers you will be working with will be the determined few. The opportunity offered by the Saunders Scholars Competition is also an excellent opportunity for you to further build your network and even secure seed funding for your venture.

Our review

YEA! is ideal for students who are passionate about entrepreneurship and eager to learn the ropes of starting and running a business. It's a program that offers not just education but a real-world experience that can set the foundation for your future entrepreneurial endeavors. If you're ready to take the first step towards becoming a young entrepreneur, YEA! might just be the perfect starting point for you.

If you’re looking for an incubator program that helps you establish a developed startup in high school, consider the Young Founders Lab! 

The Young Founder’s Lab is a real-world start-up bootcamp founded and run by Harvard entrepreneurs. In this program, you will work towards building a revenue-generating start-up that addresses a real-world problem. You will also have the opportunity to be mentored by established entrepreneurs and professionals from Google, Microsoft, and X. 

You can access the application link here!

Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you’re keen on pursuing research in business and entrepreneurship, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image Source: YEA! logo



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