The Locate Finger Lakes Young Entrepreneurs Academy, YEA!


Dr. Robert Nye, President of Finger Lakes Community College (left) and former Senator Michael F. Nozzolio (right) with the Locate Finger Lakes YEA! first class of graduates.

As Locate Finger Lakes encourages collaboration and enhances the profile of business opportunities in the region, it also seeks to provide the young people of the Finger Lakes with a focused introduction to the free enterprise system and the business world, and in so doing also highlight the creative and innovative business potential of our region.

Locate Finger Lakes is pleased to announce that through partnerships across our region to provide the young people of the Finger Lakes region with a dynamic educational opportunity that includes the experiences of local and regional leaders of industry, community members, educators and entrepreneurs, to encourage innovation, creativity and guidance in launching their own business enterprises.

Locate Finger Lakes believes providing this educational opportunity to students and their families will also highlight the Finger Lakes region’s reputation as a place of innovation, creativity, motivation and entrepreneurship.

We are thrilled to be the next region in the nation to adopt the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, YEA! This program will enhance business education for students and provide a unique, challenging and fulfilling experience for all participants. We are very excited about the experiences and knowledge it will offer young people throughout the Finger Lakes region. Locate Finger Lakes is encouraging students, community colleges, school districts and BOCES within the region to participate in this nationally recognized program.”

Jack Bisgrove, founder and chairman of the board of Locate Finger Lakes

“The YEA! program offers a unique model that helps bridge the business and academic communities together, while creating meaningful ties to the area for students. The YEA! program aims to teach students at an early age how to make a job, not just take a job. Young entrepreneurs with the right training can become a powerful force of innovative thinkers and job producers.” Gayle Jagel, Young Entrepreneurs Academy, YEA! Founder and CEO.

The YEA! Program

The YEA! program is a cutting-edge program that takes students ages 11 to 18 through the process of starting and launching a real business or social movement over the course of an academic year. By the end of the class, students own and operate fully-formed and functioning businesses, which may be carried on after their graduation from the program.

The program currently operates in more than a hundred communities all over the U.S., with the goal of expanding to chambers of commerce, colleges, universities, and school districts in every community across the country.

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy, YEA! or the YEA! program, launched its first class at the University of Rochester in 2004 with support from the Kauffman Foundation, and has successfully grown to serve over 100 communities nationwide. The YEA! program has been tremendously impactful in locations nationwide with the over 9,000 graduates of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, YEA! having started more than 6,000 businesses while in the YEA! program. Current national sponsors of the YEA! program are the United States Chamber of Commerce, Southwest Airlines and Sam’s Club.

The program connects the local business community to the youth and the schools in the area, bringing them together numerous times throughout the course of the program, as well as the excitement and professionalism of the YEA! Saunders Scholars National Competition.

The YEA! Saunders Scholars National Competition is a national college scholarship competition held annually in May in Rochester, New York in partnership with the Saunders Foundation and the Saunders College of Business at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Educators in K-12 school districts, community colleges, private and public four year colleges and public and private universities praise the YEA! program because it brings business executives and community leaders to their schools and connects business and community leaders to student success in a unique and meaningful way.

Business leaders have supported the YEA! program because it allows them to give back to their community in a manner that fosters the entrepreneurial spirit of their community’s youth, while creating invaluable networking connections for all of those involved.

The YEA! program mission is to work with local leaders of industry, community members and educators to develop a robust curriculum and deliver experience based entrepreneurship programs to young people to: help them transition successfully to adulthood; help them pursue their dreams by harnessing their creativity and energy; enable educational institutions and Chambers of Commerce to provide successful and effective entrepreneurship programs for middle and high school students; and help efforts to enhance a culture of innovation in our schools.

Through the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, YEA! program, students will brainstorm and form their business ideas, make pitches to investors for startup funding, file their DBAs, and launch their own businesses or social movements. Mentors and local entrepreneurs across a variety of industries, such as graphic design, web development, law, accounting, retail, manufacturing, technology and more are invited to support the students throughout the hands-on curriculum as mentors, field trip hosts or guest lecturers.

The YEA! project in the Finger Lakes will be implemented through the local YEA! program manager in conjunction with the team at YEA! USA, the national program’s headquarters. YEA! USA will provide training to the program manager, and all instructors and participants within the program to ensure that the program is being implemented to YEA! program’s national standards. YEA! USA provides written materials that outline the entire implementation process, as well as provides ongoing guidance in terms of how the program should be managed throughout the pre-launch phase and the entire academic year. YEA! USA will work with the local program manager to identify business partners in the Finger Lakes Region. For additional information go to the YEA! program website.

Young Entrepreneurs Academy, Student to CEO graphic

Young Entrepreneurs Academy, Turns Into Real Businesses graphic

Young Entrepreneurs Academy, Student Spotlight graphic

The program will begin in the Fall of 2018

Sign up deadline is September 15th.

  • Young Entrepreneurs Academy, Learn More
  • Young Entrepreneurs Academy, Apply Now for FLCC
  • Young Entrepreneurs Academy, Apply Now for Cayuga CC

Student, School and Business Sign Up for Future Announcements