Greater Rochester youth looking to turn an idea or passion into an actual business are encouraged to apply for Young Entrepreneurs Academy’s 2018-19 program by Oct. 12.
YEA! is a yearlong entrepreneurial program for students in grades 6-12 that helps aspiring entrepreneurs to launch and run their own businesses under the mentorship of business owners and professionals in Rochester.
“This program provides the magic formula and allows students to truly tap into their full potential by turning their passions and skills into real businesses,” said Gayle Jagel, founder and CEO. “We provide them with the knowledge and resources they need to transform their ideas, talents and interests into tangible enterprises while developing character at the same time. Students who complete the program not only walk away with great business skills and knowledge they can take back to the classroom, but they’re also able to build self-confidence and self-belief while building their businesses. They transform into young leaders of the future.”
Participants transform themselves into CEOs through an introduction to the business world that combines curriculum with the experiences of local industry leaders and behind-the-scenes tours of successful businesses.
The young entrepreneurs present their business plans in a “Shark Tank”-style competition in front of a panel of judges and secure actual funding to launch the business. Judges select one winning business to compete for college scholarships at the Saunders Scholars National Competition in May at Rochester Institute of Technology. The program ends with the opportunity for students to showcase their presentations, goods and services at the annual YEA! trade show in June, which is free and open to the public.
The program takes place outside of school hours, meeting for three hours once a week at University of Rochester.
“Many students in YEA! tell us they looked at their teachers differently at school,” Jagel said. “They saw math teachers as great resources for reviewing their pro forma, and their English teacher could review their brochures and letters to potential clients. YEA! students earn a CEO title and so much more, both personally and professionally.”
After learning the business ropes in YEA!, dozens of students went on to open and run their own businesses across the country. Rochester native Courtney Martin graduated from YEA! in 2013 and opened Infiniti Salon on Chili Avenue in 2015.
“Participating in YEA! is truly life-changing,” Martin said. “Whether you know what you want to do or not, YEA! helps you find your passion, make connections and motivates you to work hard.”
Prior experience in business is not required. Classes meet from 4 to 7 p.m. each week during the academic year, with occasional supplemental field trips and lectures. Class does not meet during school breaks and holiday recess.
The application is available online. Applicants should select Rochester as the location. Call (585) 272-3535 or visit for information.