Young Entrepreneurs Academy

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a groundbreaking and exciting program that transforms local middle and high school students into real, confident entrepreneurs.

This will be the 10th anniversary of YEA at MVCC! Applications are now open for the upcoming class!  

Apply today for the 2021-2022 year! Applications are due Monday, Oct. 4!

Students from all local school districts are encouraged to apply and educators are invited to nominate students they believe will excel in the program. Full and partial scholarships are available to qualifying students.

Who can apply?

The class is open to students in grades six through 12 (ages 11 to 18) from any local school district and class size is limited.

When are classes?

Classes will be held on Wednesday evenings from Oct. 13, 2021, to May 4, 2022.

To be COVID-compliant and keep our students safe, we are using alternative locations and methods of class delivery this year:

  • Classes will be a mix of in-person and virtual for the 2021-22 school year. A full schedule with locations will be provided upon acceptance to the program.

Class time: 5-7:30 p.m. 

Classes are not held during school breaks. 

What is the class like?

During the class, students:       

  • Learn how to create a business they are passionate about
  • Complete market research and develop a business plan
  • Work one-on-one with business mentors and graphic designers
  • Attend field trips to learn from local entrepreneurs
  • Pitch their ideas at a "Shark Tank"-style investor panel presentation to win real start-up funds
  • Legally register their business as a DBA
  • Take part in a trade show
  • Graduate from the program with lifelong leadership and business skills

One student from the program is chosen to represent our class at the Saunders Scholars national competition at the Rochester Institute of Technology and will compete against students from all over the country! Other prizes include an annual membership to the Greater Utica Chamber of Commerce.

Application Process 

Student will need to:

  • Complete the application
  • Answer three short-answer questions
  • Write a 300-word essay
  • Get one letter of recommendation from a teacher or counselor
  • Get a copy of their academic transcript
  • Complete an in-person interview (via Zoom)

Acceptance into the program is based on all aspects of the completed application as well as the personal interview. Prior business experience is not required, nor is it required to have a business idea prior to the start of class. 


2020-2021 Calendar

  • Application deadline: Monday, Oct. 4, 2021
  • Student interviews (Zoom): Oct. 5-7, 2021
  • Parent/Student Orientation: 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, in person or virtual (TBD)
  • First Class: Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021
  • Investor Panel: Wednesday, March 30, 2022
  • Trade Show and Graduation: Wednesday, May 4, 2022
  • National Saunders Scholars Competition in Rochester, N.Y.: TBD

Have questions?

We will be holding two Zoom Q&A sessions for students and parents—feel free to jump on with Michelle to get more information:

  • 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2021
    • ID: 818 5179 8826 / Password: YEA2022
  • 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021
    • ID: 880 4227 7958 / Password: YEA2022


Michelle Truett, Program Manager, YEA Instructor since 2012

Thank you to our 2021-2022 program partners:

  • M&T Bank/Partners Trust Bank Charitable Fund
  • Berkshire Bank
  • First Source Federal Credit Union
  • Greater Utica Chamber of Commerce
  • Utica Observer-Dispatch
  • WUTR Eyewitness News

The University of Rochester started YEA! in 2004 with support from the Kauffman Foundation and is now in 168 communities across America with classes also in Shanghai, China, and India. More than 4,000 students nationwide have launched over 3,000 businesses and social movements. 

YEA! USA is made possible by the Kauffman Foundation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and the E. Philip Saunders Foundation. We also thank our national supporters—Sam’s Club and Southwest Airlines.