Young Entrepreneurs Academy Seeks to Expand Business Educational Program for Kids

July 28, 2015

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Riley Benner and Luke Zaremski were the winners of the 2014 YEA! Saunders Scholarship, after developing the business plan for Phoenix Haberdashery, a maker of reversible ties.


YEA! is currently operating in more than 100 communities, with after-school programs that run from November to May.

Sixteen-year-old Riley Benner of Rochester, New York, employs refugees to hand sew his high-end silk, reversible ties for his business, Phoenix Haberdashery. Fifteen-year-old CEO of Gladiator Lacrosse, Rachel Zietz of Boca Raton, Florida, is on track to make her first million this year. And then there’s 18-year-old Brandon Boynton of Pendleton, Indiana, who is saving hundreds of students nationwide from the devastation of bullying with his app, The Bully Box—an anonymous reporting tool for school districts. 

What do all of these students have in common? They are alumni of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!). YEA! transforms middle and high school students into confident entrepreneurs. The 30-week, hands-on program teaches students how to generate business ideas, conduct market research, write business plans, pitch to a panel of investors and launch their own real companies. 

The program is sweeping the nation to fill the gap in business education available in schools. YEA! is currently offered in more than 100 communities across the country and run as either an afterschool enrichment program that meets weekly between November and May, or as an in-school credit-bearing elective.

“YEA! is designed to bridge the business and educational community, while developing confident, skilled future leaders,” said Gayle Jagel, Founder & CEO of YEA! “We are very interested in bringing the program to new communities because it is already a hub of innovation and economic growth. This type of rich community has proven successful in other areas as an ideal place to teach young people to embrace their passions, live their dreams, and ultimately, even change the world,” Jagel said.

Startup funds are available from Sam’s Club through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to communities interested in bringing YEA! to the area. Applications are being accepted at through August 31 and interested parties must engage their local chamber of commerce to apply for the funding.

Startup funds provided by Sam’s Club fuel growth and support for YEA!’s innovative national educational program, while supporting the small business community. Sam’s Club, a leading membership club, has served the small business community since 1983.

To learn more about starting a program in your community, visit

About YEA! Graduates
• 99% of Academy graduates enroll in college.
• 49% of YEA! students are female.
• 56% of YEA! students are under-represented minorities.
• 19% of YEA! students start second businesses.
• 100% of Academy graduates graduate from high school on time.
• YEA! students have been awarded millions of dollars in scholarships as a result of their involvement in YEA!.
• Over 4,000 YEA! students nationwide have launched more than 3,000 real businesses in America.

About YEA!
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a 501(C) 3 offering groundbreaking year-long classes that teach middle and high school students how to start and run their own businesses. Throughout the class, students develop business ideas, write business plans, conduct market research, pitch their plans to a panel of investors, and launch and run their own real, fully formed companies and social movements. The project-based program includes guest speakers from the local business community and behind-the-scenes trips to local companies and empowers students to take charge of their futures.

Founded in 2004 at the University of Rochester with support from the Kauffman Foundation, the Young Entrepreneurs Academy today serves thousands of students nationwide. In 2011, the United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation became a national sponsor and partner of the Academy to help celebrate the spirit of enterprise among today's youth and tomorrow’s future leaders.

YEA! bridges the business and educational communities to fulfill its mission of teaching more students how to make a job, not just take a job. YEA! is made possible by The Kauffman Foundation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the E. Philip Saunders Foundation.

About the U. S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness and educating the public on how the free enterprise system improves society and the economy.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

About Sam’s Club
Sam’s Club®, a division of Walmart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT), is a leading membership warehouse club offering savings and benefits to millions of members in 651 clubs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Sam’s Club offers affordable access to innovative benefits for families and small business owners, including travel, payroll and HR services, online marketing and legal solutions, cash rewards and more. To learn more about saving time and money with Sam’s Club, visit