Macon’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) kicked off this fall, and it’s teaching 25 Macon area middle and high school students more than just business basics. YEA is a 30-week course involving hands-on learning, which results in the program’s graduates launching a real, registered business. This is the first YEA! program in Georgia.
YEA! is a national program that has been tested and successful in more than 100 cities, and the outcomes are impressive: 100 percent of YEA! students graduate high school on time and 99 percent enroll in college. YEA! students have launched more than 3,172 businesses, and thousands of dollars in scholarships have been awarded to graduates as a result of their involvement with the program.
The students meet weekly through May at the Mercer Innovation Center. They will first develop their business ideas and then make pitches to investors just like the hit reality television show “Shark Tank.” Classes are taught by more than 70 local entrepreneurs and community leaders, who serve as guest speakers and mentors and host field trips.
“I am thrilled that the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce and its partners are giving Macon-Bibb County the opportunity to be the first community in Georgia to launch the Young Entrepreneurs Academy,” said Nadia Osman, Spark Macon’s director. “The Chamber has long been a supporter of locally-grown business, and YEA! will allow our youth to become entrepreneurs, launching their own companies and to see Macon as a community in which they can make a living doing what they love.”
Osman, who also serves as the director of Spark Macon, Central Georgia’s first makerspace, added that YEA! continues to seek business mentors and volunteers to work directly with the students and provide real-life experience and advice. To volunteer or learn more about YEA, contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up using this link.