Young Entrepreneurs Honored at America’s Small Business Summit

June 8, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C.--The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation will host the six regional champions from the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) National Saunders Scholarship Competition at the Chamber's America's Small Business Summit 2015 to pitch their business ideas and compete for college scholarships.

The national finalists will be evaluated by a panel of judges from American Express Company, MarketWatch, Permac Industries, Phoenix Haberdashery, Sam's Club, Southwest Airlines, Sweetwater Energy, and Toshiba Business Solutions.

The regional champions were selected out of more than 2,000 middle and high school students nationwide who participated in YEA!'s 30-week entrepreneurship class of 2015 and were required to generate business ideas, conduct market research, write business plans, pitch a panel of investors, and launch their own, legally-registered companies.

The national finalists include: Lane Karlitz, Study Senses LLCHope Kessler, Quickly CoveredVikash Mody, HireHighShreyas Parab, NovelTieKayla Abramowitz, Kayla Cares 4 Kids; and Jordan Zietz, GameReef.

"The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation proudly supports the creativity and ingenuity of all of the students who participated in this year's YEA! program. These young entrepreneurs represent the next generation of American business leaders and are the future of innovation," said Carolyn Cawley, senior vice president of strategic development for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

"Sam's Club is proud to support YEA! finalists as they embark on business ownership," said Lance de la Rosa, Sam's Club senior vice president of operations. "These students embody the entrepreneurial spirit and business know-how of our founder Sam Walton. Following Sam's mission to be the club for the small business community, we look forward to growing with these driven, talented students and the local chambers, schools and families that support them."

"The Young Entrepreneurs Academy has become an example of the entrepreneurship we teach to our students. Since launching in 2004 with one class at the University of Rochester, today we have grown to serve students in 117 communities in 38 states. We are exceptionally proud of our more than 4,000 graduates who have launched over 3,172 businesses across America," said Gayle Jagel, founder and CEO of YEA!.

The regional champions attending the Chamber's annual event will have access to more than 700 small business owners from across the country who can share management advice, policy insights, and strategies to grow their business. Featured speakers will also include Tony Hsieh, Brian Smith, and Robert O'Neill.

The national pitch competition will take place from 12:00 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. on June 8, 2015, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. The competition is open to the public, and tickets are available online.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and YEA! received a $250,000 donation from Sam's Club, a leading membership club serving the small business community since 1983, to further expand the program. The Foundation provides launch grants to state and local chambers of commerce to help bring the YEA! program to their communities. Local chambers can apply through June 15, 2015, to receive $2,500 in Sam's Club Success Made Simple YEA! Startup Funds. For more information, visit uschamberfoundation.org/yea.

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.

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.

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