YEA helps low-income teens realize their economic potential and take steps toward financial independence by owning and running viable businesses.
YEA teaches teens from low-income families how to develop and operate their own businesses right in their schools. Along the way they learn not only how to be successful entrepreneurs, but how to be successful people, as well. Every skill we teach is a life lesson. For YEA graduates, doors open—to college, to meaningful employment, to financial independence, to a wonderful future.
YEA was founded on the belief that low-income, at-risk teens need five opportunities and skills in order to succeed:
• Access to paid work
• Professional networking skills and opportunities
• Job-readiness skills
• College-readiness skills
Just as important, YEA believes that at-risk teens are no different than more fortunate young people: they have innate, marketable talents. By turning those talents into business ventures, teens get a head start toward financial success and, if they choose, college.
They win, their families win, their communities win.
YEA works in middle schools and vocational high schools to apply academic lessons to student-operated businesses. We help students decide what type of businesses can take best advantage of their talents and education, then collaborate closely with teachers as the businesses are developed and operated. YEA’s staff teaches students business skills, trains the teachers to supervise the businesses, and provides ongoing consultation.
And make no mistake about it: these are real businesses. The clients and customers are companies (including large corporations), other students and the public. Students earn income from sales, although most YEA teens say they value the experience more than the pay.
Our businesses are structured much like major corporations. Every student has a job function, students work as a coordinated team and more experienced teens serve as team leaders or project managers.
Teens are notorious for losing interest But YEA's businesses last many years, and our student business owners are involved for two or more years. For most YEA teens, the lesson in commitment develops deep roots. More than 98 percent of YEA participants graduate from high school — an extraordinary rate for low-income teens. Even more impressive, over 80 percent go to college — four times the rate of their peers.
YEA is just 6 years old, yet YEA alumni are already developing successful careers, and a growing number have become mentors and consultants to current YEA student businesses.
People keep saying the same thing about our teen entrepreneurs: YEA! And the word is spreading. School officials around the country contact us every week to ask for our program. We're ready to help, but few schools have funds for new programs. Without generous donors, YEA must turn away teens, teachers, administrators and parents. You can help YEA grow. Donate now and help us develop responsible, productive, successful citizens.
1. Teens learn most effectively in real-life situations. The best way for a teen to learn about business is to run one!
2. Teens from all walks of life have innate talents waiting to be discovered.
3. All teens should have access to higher education and meaningful employment.