Background on Program 

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a year-long program that teaches middle and high school students how to start and run their own REAL businesses. YEA! was developed at the University of Rochester in 2004 with the support of a grant from the Kauffman Foundation. Orlando, Inc. is excited to be introducing YEA! to the Orlando Community! 

YEA! guides high school students through the process of starting and running a legitimate business or social movement over the course of a full academic year. As of 2013, YEA! has graduated 1,394 students who have started over 1,000 businesses and social movements! YEA! graduates started as students, and left the program as CEOs of their own companies!

Over the course of the program, students:

  • Brainstorm business ideas 
  • Write a business plan 
  • Interact with business professionals
  • Pitch their business plan to potential “investors” (think ABC’s “Shark Tank!")
  • Obtain funding 
  • Legally register their businesses
  • Participate in a Trade Show
  • Actually launch their own businesses or social movements 



Why Apply?

This program offers students the chance to:

  • Develop the skills necessary to launch their own business or social movement (hands-on entrepreneurial experience!) 
  • Learn about real businesses - why they succeed or fail. 
  • Hear from local entrepreneurs. 
  • Launch their own business or social movement! 
  • Become more confident in their ideas and their abilities. 

As we strive to serve as many students as possible, we want to ensure that all who are interested in the program have been given the opportunity to apply.

After careful and thoughtful consideration, we’ve decided to extend the application deadline. Applications and admissions will continue to be accepted, on a rolling basis until all spots are filled. 


Organization of Program 

YEA! classes will meet October through May, for three hours weekly. Applications will be accepted from students in grades 6-12.

There are no classes during regular school holidays and recesses. Students are taught by an instructor, but are exposed to guest lecturers, successful entrepreneurs and business mentors. The class goes on field trips to a variety of local businesses. Finally, the students participate in three major events throughout the year: the Investor Panel, Trade Show and a formal graduation ceremony.


Student Selection Process

To apply for YEA!, students must:

  • Fill out the YEA! application 
  • Complete the essay and the short answer questions 
  • Submit their transcripts
  • Submit a letter of recommendation 

Once the completed application packet is received, students will be asked to come in for an interview. Acceptance in the program is based on all aspects of an application, as well as the personal interview. Prior experience with business is not required! 



How Business Professionals Can Get Involved

Through their interactions with business professionals during the year, YEA! students gain some of the most important knowledge and experience they need to succeed. Local professionals volunteer their time and expertise as guest speakers, mentors, investors, graphic designers, field trip hosts, business plan reviewers, and much more. The time YEA! students spend with adults who encourage their futures is invaluable, and participants often report getting even more out of their participation than they put in to it!

If you are interested in becoming involved with YEA! as a guest speaker, fieldtrip host, or volunteer, contact Heather Norton at 407.514.2097 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


For further information about the YEA! Orlando program, please visit our partner at Orlando, Inc.

Local students of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Class of 2015 at Orlando Science Center received CEO status on May 14, 2015 at the commencement ceremony in the Digital Adventure Theater: A National Geographic Experience.

After months of hard work, José Fajardo, Executive Vice President of the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce; JoAnn Newman, Orlando Science Center President & CEO; and Nicole Rivera, YEA Program Coordinator awarded the class their diplomas.

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Local students from the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Class of 2015 at Orlando Science Center revealed their new start-up businesses to the public at the YEA! Trade Show on May 9, 2015 at Orlando Fashion Square.

Mall shoppers were able to learn about the students' businesses, purchase their products and services, and see prototypes. The presentation was a culmination of nine months of hard work resulting in the graduates owning and operating their own businesses. The Young Entrepreneurs Academy is an educational program co-hosted by the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce and Orlando Science Center.

Thank you to Orlando Fashion Square for hosting this great event!

Photo Credit: RF Photography

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Student entrepreneurs presented their business plans before a panel of local investors to obtain funding for their enterprises at the Young Entrepreneur Academy Investor Panel on Wednesday, April 15 at Orlando Science Center.

Fifteen middle and high school students had six minutes to pitch their concepts. Based on the appeal and merit of the students’ plans and presentations, representatives from companies like Bright House Networks, EA SPORTS and Engineering and Computer Simulations determined the amount of funds to allocate to each.

The participating investors also selected Bridget Sullivan of Americamo to advance to the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Saunders Scholars National College Scholarship competition, where she will compete for hundreds of thousands of dollars in college scholarships, a fast-track application pass to apply for ABC’s "Shark Tank," and an all-expenses paid trip to attend America’s Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C. courtesy of the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Photo Credit: RF Photography

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Six Orlando leaders lead a question-and-answer panel for Orlando Science Center's inaugural class of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy program. These leaders were able to impart their knowledge to entrepreneurs on the start of their journey.

Participants included JoAnn Newman, president & CEO of Orlando Science Center; Jose Fajardo, executive vice president of Orlando, Inc.; Dr. Mansooreh Mollaghasemi, chairman and CEO of Productivity Apex, Inc.; Catriona Harris, owner and co-founder of Uproar PR; Marty Rubin, CEO of Smart City; Cari Coats, executive director of the Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship; Robert Finfrock, owner and president of FINFROCK Industries, Inc.; Luke Widmer, CEO of Oakstone Capital Parners; and Mark Brewer, president & CEO of the Central Florida Foundation.

YEA transforms local middle and high school students into real entrepreneurial successes. Over the course of nine months, students brainstorm and form their enterprises, make pitches to real investors, obtain funding, register their companies with governmental agencies, and by the end, launch their own business or social movement.

Photo Credit: RF Photography

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