Young Entrepreneurs Academy Comes to Metro Valdosta to Ignite Spirit of Entrepreneurship & Spur Economic Growth

Staff Report From Valdosta CEO

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber is pleased to bring the Young Entrepreneurs Academy to the area to transform middle and high school students into business owners as part of a weekly 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.
"The Young Entrepreneurs Academy will help the Metro Valdosta area to fulfill its goal of supporting small business development in our community by training our future leaders and helping them to establish strong, lasting relationships with their hometown business community," says Chamber President, Myrna Ballard "We are thrilled to be the second community in Georgia to adopt the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. This program will enhance business education for students and provide a unique, challenging and fulfilling experience for all participants."  
"YEA! offers a unique model that helps bridge the business and academic communities together, while creating meaningful ties to the area for students. We are excited about launching this expansion in the Valdosta community," says YEA! Founder and CEO Gayle Jagel. The program currently operates in more than a hundred communities all over the U.S., with the goal of expanding to chambers of commerce, colleges, universities, and school districts in every community across the country.
The YEA! Program would not be possible without our sponsors! We would like to thank Georgia Power for their generous contribution to the program. Because of Georgia Power's support, the YEA! Program promises to be a success in our community. "Georgia Power is proud to be the presenting sponsor of the second chapter of YEA! in the state. Helping young entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and to give them confidence in the process is important to the future success of the business community," said Jason Manley, Vice President, South Region, Georgia Power.
 "YEA! aims to teach students at an early age how to make a job, not just take a job," adds Jagel. "At a time when small business growth is declining in the U.S., young entrepreneurs with the right training can become a powerful force of innovative thinkers and even employers."
During the 30-week commitment, students will brainstorm and form their business ideas, make pitches to investors for startup funding, file their DBAs, and launch their own businesses or social movements. Mentors and local entrepreneurs across a variety of industries, such as graphic design, web development, law, accounting, retail, manufacturing, technology and more are invited to support the students throughout the hands-on curriculum as mentors, field trip hosts or guest lecturers.
"One of the interesting components of YEA! is the 'behind the scenes' knowledge that local business leaders are able to share with students. Community support will strengthen the program, and the Academy aims to strengthen the community," says DeWayne and Amanda Johnson, Program Directors. The students will also gain skills that they can apply to any field they choose to enter, and will have the foundation to become future leaders of their industries."

YEA! was developed in 2004 at the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY, with support from the Kauffman Foundation. YEA! now receives support from the United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation and Sam's Club.
100% of Academy graduates graduate high school on time

99% of Academy graduates enroll in college

49% of YEA! students are female

56% of YEA! students are underrepresented minorities

19% of YEA! students start second businesses

YEA! students have been awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships as a result of their involvement in YEA!

4,338 students nationwide have launched more than 3,172 real businesses in America