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Young Entrepreneaural Academy

The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to go into its fourth year of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. Our chamber is the first and only organization to host a YEA! program in North Dakota and one of few in the entire Midwest. In our program’s first three years, we’ve already seen several incredible young students launch real and successful businesses.

Now, YOU can be a part of this exciting program too! We’re currently accepting applications for students, who will work closely with business leaders, community leaders and entrepreneurs to guide them as they learn to transform ideas into real, tangible companies that create economic and social value.

Check out these highlights!

KVRR interviews Katie Ralston: Young Entrepreneurs Academy: Swimming With Sharks

The YEA! Experience (Guest Post from the 2018 Shark Tank Winner)

Bridget McManamon Takes Top Honors at 2017 “Shark Tank”

Background on program

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) teaches high school students how to start and run their own REAL businesses. YEA! was developed at the University of Rochester in 2004 with the support of a grant from the Kauffman Foundation. The Chamber is excited to be introducing YEA! to the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Community.

YEA! guides high school students through the process of starting and running a legitimate business or social movement over the course of a full academic year. As of 2014, YEA! has graduated over 2,000 students who have started more than 1,700 businesses and social movements, YEA! graduates started as students, and left the program as CEOs of their own companies.

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 ABC’s “Shark Tank”).
  • Obtain funding.
  • Legally register their businesses.
  • Participate in a trade show.
  • Actually launch their own businesses or social movements.

Why apply?

This program offers students the chance to:
  • Develop the skills necessary to launch their own REAL business or social movement in a hands-on entrepreneurial experience.
  • Learn about real businesses - why they succeed or fail.
  • Hear from local entrepreneurs.
  • Become more confident in their ideas and their abilities.

Organization of program

YEA! classes will meet October through May, for three hours weekly. Applications will be accepted from students in grades 6-12.

There are no classes during regular school holidays and recesses. Students are taught by an instructor, and are exposed to guest lecturers, successful entrepreneurs and business mentors. The class goes on field trips to a variety of local businesses. Finally, the students participate in three major events throughout the year: the Investor Panel, Trade Show and a formal graduation ceremony.

Student selection process

To apply for YEA!, students must:

  • Fill out the YEA! application.
  • Complete the essay and the short answer questions.
  • Submit official transcripts.
  • Submit a letter of recommendation.

Once the completed application packet is received, students will be asked to come in for an interview. Acceptance in the program is based on all aspects of an application, as well as the personal interview. Prior experience with business is not required.

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.

If you are interested in becoming involved with YEA! as a guest speaker, fieldtrip host, or volunteer, contact Katie Ralston at 218.359.0511 or email kralston@fmwfchamber.com.

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