DEARBORN, Mich. -

The Dearborn Chamber of Commerce and the Dearborn/Dearborn Heights school district is launching the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!).

The 30-week program will be held at the University of Michigan-Dearborn's campus.

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy is a groundbreaking educational program that takes students in grades six through twelve through the process of starting and running a real business.

Students work closely with local business leaders to cultivate and research business ideas, write a business plan, pitch their plan to a panel of investors (think Shark Tank meets The Apprentice meets American Idol!), obtain funding, develop their brand, participate in a Ttrade show at the end of the year, and actually launch their enterprise.

Through the YEA! program, kids 12 to 18 years old start as students and graduate as CEOs. They learn to make a job–not just take a job.

 “We are so excited to participate in the national movement of making experiential entrepreneurship education available to youth all across our country,” said Jackie Lovejoy, president of the Dearborn Area Chamber. “This is how, as a society and as a nation, we’re ultimately going to change the world!”

Local large and small companies/businesses volunteer their time and services acting as business mentors, field trip hosts, guest lecturers, graphic designers, web developers, attorneys, etc.

“In the nine years we have offered the YEA! program, I have had the pleasure of seeing hundreds of students start their own enterprises that create value, whatever ‘value’ might mean to that particular student,” says Gayle Jagel, the founder and CEO of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy.  It’s amazing to see how powerful it is to instill an entrepreneurial mindset in a young person and watch how the lessons they learn in YEA! translate not only to a successful business career, but a successful transition to adulthood and the makings for a fulfilling, successful life.” 

In 2008, YEA! “spun-off” from the university to create its own not-for-profit corporation, YEA! Inc. with help from the Kauffman Foundation, which is currently launching sites in colleges, universities and high schools across the country.

 When asked why the Dearborn Area Chamber chose to partner with YEA! and bring the YEA! program to your community, Chamber President Lovejoy responded, “Our company has always been committed to improving our local community and preparing our area’s youth to meet the challenges of today’s world, and the YEA! program is in perfect alignment with that mission."