The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a groundbreaking class that transforms middle and high school students into real entrepreneurs. The class (comprised of students ages 11-18) meets after school one day a week from November through May. Classes are held at our University Partner, Marymount University. Through the class, students develop business ideas, write business plans, conduct market research, pitch their plans to a panel of investors, and actually launch and run their own real, legal, fully formed companies. YEA! is a national program with over 100 affiliate sites that started in 2004 at the University of Rochester through support from the Kaufmann Foundation, and the Arlington Chamber of Commerce is excited for YEA! to be a part of the Arlington, VA Community.

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

YEA! helps our Chamber meet the evolving needs of the business community. The program offers numerous opportunities for our members to engage with the students and share their experience and talents with these budding entrepreneurs. It also opens the door for the Chamber to many deepened organizational partnerships and a strengthened partnership with Arlington County. Additional details about the program are available at

Key Program Dates

  • February 2017 - CEO Roundtable
  • March 2017 - Investor Panel: The YEA! students will have six minutes to pitch their business plans to prominent local members of the business community, during the program’s annual YEA! Investor Panel Event (think Shark Tank meets The Apprentice meets American Idol). Based on the appeal and merit of the students’ plans and presentations, representatives from different companies will determine the amount of funds to allocate to each business or social movement.
  • April 2017 - Trade Show, hosted by Ballston BID: The YEA! Arlington students will reveal their new start-up businesses to the public at the YEA! Trade Show. The presentation is a culmination of months of hard work, resulting in the graduates owning and operating their own businesses. The Trade Show is free and open to the public!
  • May 2017 - Graduation

How can you get involved and support the program?

Volunteer Opportunities – The program offers our members a variety of opportunities to engage with students, including mentoring the students through developing their business plans. Also, web developers and graphic designers have the opportunity to help create the branding and web presence for a student business startup. Please see the Community Engagement Packet for information for additional details. Members interested in getting involved can also apply for the YEA! Booster Committee. Email Alex Held at for more information.

Sponsorship Opportunities – The program is a great way to support the business leaders of tomorrow. It falls perfectly in line with our Mission to strengthen businesses and the economic environment for those who work, live and do business in Arlington. As a Chamber member, you have the opportunity to align your business with the program as a sponsor. Sponsorships are available at a variety of levels
. Each sponsorship comes with the opportunity to support the program through personal involvement as well as a financial contribution. For more information on sponsorship opportunities, contact Cassie Hurley via email at or call (703) 525-2400. 

Student Referrals – Please let us know if you know a budding entrepreneur in middle school or high school who might be a good fit for the program by submitting the
student nomination form. Students do not have to attend school in Arlington nor reside in the County, but need to be able to attend class in Arlington one day a week from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Interested students should complete the YEA! student application. Please send your completed application to Alex Held at Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis with a final deadline of September 30, 2016.

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.

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! Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis with a final deadline of September 30, 2016. Applications received by August 1, 2016 will have the application fee of $10 waived.

For more information, or if you are interested in becoming involved with YEA!, contact Alex Held via email at or call (703) 525-2400.

YEA! Booster Committee

The YEA! Booster Committee seeks to expand upon the success of the Arlington Chamber's Young Entrepreneurs Academy, by increasing the awareness of the program within the community, increasing revenue for the program, and increasing involvement with the program from the Chamber membership and student population. In order to be a key partner for the program's success, booster committee members will utilize their talents, connections, and resources to help support the YEA! Program's mission of providing entrepreneurial education for middle and high school students. Contact Alex Held at to join the committee.

Thank you to the following Sponsors:

Premier Partner:

Innovation Sponsor:

University Partner:

Investor Panel Grand Sponsor:

Investor Panel Sponsors:
Bean, Kinney & Korman, P.C.
Todd Ihrig - H.D. Vest Investment Services

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