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 eighth year that MVCC has hosted the program in the greater Utica area and applications are now open for the upcoming class!  

Apply today for the 2019-2020 year! Applications are due Friday, 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 are held on Wednesday evenings from Oct. 16, 2019, to May 13, 2020, from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at MVCC’s Utica Campus. 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!

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

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. 


For Students

For Educators

2019-2020 Calendar

  • Application deadline: Friday, Oct. 4, 2019
  • Parent/Student Orientation: 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, MVCC Utica Campus
  • First Class: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019
  • Investor Panel: Wednesday, April 1, 2020
  • Trade Show and Graduation: Wednesday, May 13, 2020
  • National Saunders Scholars Competition in Rochester, N.Y.: April 29-May 2, 2020


Michelle Truett, Program Manager, YEA Instructor since 2012

Thank you to our 2019-2020 program partners:

  • M&T Bank/Partners Trust Bank Charitable Fund
  • Berkshire Bank
  • First Source Federal Credit Union
  • Utica Observer-Dispatch

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.