The Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce is bringing the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) to the area to transform middle and high school students into business owners as part of a weekly after-school entrepreneurship education class beginning this fall.
YEA is a cutting-edge program that takes students ages 11 to 18 through the process of starting and launching a real business or social movement over the course of an academic year. By the end of the class, students own and operate fully formed and functioning businesses, which may be carried on after their graduation from the program.
YEA offers a unique model that helps bridge the business and academic communities together, while creating meaningful ties to the area for students. The program is being run through the Central Palm Beach County Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization in partnership with the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce.
“We are so thrilled to be the next community in the nation to adopt the Young Entrepreneurs Academy,” said Mary Lou Bedford, CEO of the chamber. “This program will enhance business education for students and provide a unique, challenging and fulfilling experience for all participants.”
The program requires a 30-week commitment from its young executives. In this time, students will brainstorm and form their enterprises, make pitches to real investors, obtain funding, file their DBAs and, by the end of class, actually launch their own business or social movement. Business mentors and local entrepreneurs across a variety of industries will support the students throughout the program. All of the learning is real and experiential.
“One of the most interesting components of YEA is the ‘behind the scenes’ knowledge that local business leaders are able to share with students,” said Cheryl Anders, partner of Think Big Health Care Solutions and chair of the Central Palm Beach YEA Committee. “This experience is something they will be able to apply to any field they choose to enter, and will provide them with the necessary skills to become future leaders of their industries.
By partnering with YEA, both large and small businesses can volunteer their time as business mentors, field-trip hosts, guest lecturers, graphic designers, web developers, attorneys and more. Community support strengthens the program, and the academy strengthens the community.
The nationwide statistics for students who attend this program indicate:
• 100 percent of academy graduates graduate high school on time;
• 99 percent of academy graduates enroll in college;
• 56 percent of YEA students are underrepresented minorities;
• YEA students have been awarded millions of dollars in scholarships as a result of their involvement in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy; and
• 4,338 students nationwide have launched more than 3,172 real businesses.
Students can apply for YEA online or download a print application by visiting www.cpbchamberyea.org. Call Martina Sanchez at (561) 578-4813 to learn more.