Young Entrepreneurs Academy

Do you know a middle or high school student who is interested in starting their own business—but has no idea on how to get the ball rolling? If so we’re here to help them get their ideas off the ground and into motion.

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) at MRA Education Foundation is currently accepting nominations and applications for the upcoming academic year. Applications are accepted, and student interviews are conducted on a rolling basis. YEA! will grant admission to a maximum of twenty four students annually.

For more information, and an application, contact Nikki Lewis or call 419-522-3211.

More About YEA!

The Richland Area Chamber & Economic Development is thrilled to once again bring Young Entrepreneurs Academy to Richland County. YEA! teaches students in grades 6-12 how to start and run their own REAL businesses.

A Bit of Background…

YEA! was developed at the University of Rochester in 2004 with the support of a grant from the Kauffman Foundation. In 2015, the Chamber Foundation began the program right here in Richland County.

YEA! guides middle and high school students through the process of starting and running a legitimate business or social movement over the course of a full academic year. YEA! has graduated hundreds of students since 2004, who have started well over 5,000 businesses and social movements! Kids start as students, and graduate as CEOs!

Over the course of the program students:

  • Brainstorm business ideas
  • Write a business plan
  • Interact with business professionals
  • Pitch their business plan to potential “investors” (think Shark Tank meets the Apprentice meets American Idol)
  • Obtain funding
  • Legally register their businesses
  • Participate in a Trade Show
  • Actually launch their own businesses or social movements

YEA! offers students the chance to:

  • Develop the skills necessary to launch their own business or social movement (hands-on entrepreneurial experience!)
  • Learn about real businesses—why they succeed or fail.
  • Hear from local entrepreneurs.
  • Launch their own business or social movement!
  • Become more confident in their ideas and their abilities.

How Business Professionals Can Get Involved…

Through their interactions with business professionals during the year, YEA! students gain some of the most important knowledge and experience they need to succeed. Local professionals volunteer their time and expertise as guest speakers, mentors, investors, graphic designers, field trip hosts, business plan reviewers, and much more. The time YEA! students spend with adults who encourage their futures is invaluable, and participants often report getting even more out of their participation than they put in to it!

YEA! is held at a central location in Richland County every Tuesday from 4:00pm to 7:00pm, beginning in October and ending in May.

YEA! can now be found in over 110 locations! Again, for more information call 419-522-3211, or contact Nikki Lewis.

YEA! Application

Hello student applicant! Are you ready to be creative and innovative? Are you ready to turn your talents and passions into a real business? Before you get started, carefully read the five simple application instructions/steps below.

Step 1: Talk to your parent or guardian. You will need permission to participate. Specific student and parent/guardian contact information is required to complete the application.

Step 2: Prepare answers to two of the following three questions.

1. Why are you interested in learning about entrepreneurship?
2. Please describe to us if you are currently in the process of launching your own business or social movement or if you have a creative and innovative idea for a business or social movement.
3. What entrepreneurial story, either from the past or currently, inspires you? Please describe.

Step 3: Prepare a brief essay (approximately 300 words) on the following topic.

Describe a situation when you demonstrated at least two of the following characteristics of successful entrepreneurs: persistence, inquisitiveness, self-confidence, tolerance for failure, creativity, innovation, personal initiative, competitiveness, commitment, and strong management and organization skills.

Step 4: Upload your academic transcript (an unofficial transcript is acceptable)

Step 5: Request and upload a letter of recommendation (ask a teacher, counselor, sports coach, club advisor, church leader, personal mentor, etc.)

Student Applicant Information

Are you interested in learning more about your eligibility for a scholarship for your participation in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy? *

Parent/Guardian Information

Short Answer Questions

Please write a brief response to two of the following questions:

  1. Why are you interested in learning about entrepreneurship?
  2. Please describe to us if you are currently in the process of launching your own business or social movement or if you have a creative and innovative idea for a business or social movement.
  3. What entrepreneurial endeavor/story, either from the past or currently, inspires you? Please describe.

Essay Question

Please write a brief essay on the following topic. You must complete this essay to be considered for YEA!

Academic Transcript

Your most current transcript from your school must be included with the application form in order to be considered for YEA!. Most guidance offices will be able to help you with this. You can also email your transcript separately to

Recommendation Letter

Ask a teacher, guidance counselor, or community leader to write a letter of recommendation that addresses how long the recommender has known you and in what context, your academic abilities, level of maturity, social skills, commitment to the community, and other characteristics that demonstrate you are a good candidate for the program.

Upload recommendation letter below or email it separately to

Parent/Guardian Agreement

If my son/daughter is accepted as a student, I agree to abide by the Young Entrepreneurs Academy regulations and rules. I understand that a payment plan must be selected and a deposit received and that no deductions or refunds will be given for late cancellations or expulsion. Furthermore, I give permission for my son/daughter to attend all functions and activities connected with YEA!, including any which may be held off campus. I hereby release the Richland Area Chamber & Economic Development, the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, the officers, trustees, employees, and volunteers of the aforementioned organizations for all actions, claims, or demands for damages resulting from my child’s participation in the activities, and from liability and damages, injuries, or losses which might be sustained by my child, except those caused by the direct and sole negligence of the aforementioned organizations.

Do you understand and agree to the terms listed above? *
Yes, I understand and agree to the terms listed above

Parent/Guardian Digital Signature