2019-09-28 11:03:45

LANCASTER — The Lancaster Chamber of Commerce wants to help transform middle and high school students into future business owners through the Young Entrepreneurs Academy.

The Chamber will offer the 25-week entrepreneurship education class for the sixth time beginning this fall. The program takes sixth through 12th grade students through the process of starting and launching a real business or social movement.

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 Young Entrepreneurs Academy helps the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce to fulfill its goal of supporting small business development in our community by training our future leaders and helping them to establish strong, lasting relationships with their hometown business community,” Chamber CEO Mark Hemstreet said in a statement.

“We were thrilled to have graduated 15 of students who launched 15 new businesses last year and hope to grow our program to 20 businesses this year. We’re also thrilled to have engaged over 40 local business leaders who have served as mentors, instructors and guides as a means of giving back to our community.”  

During the 25-week commitment, students 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 business owners across a variety of industries, such as marketing, 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.

“YEA! offers a unique model that helps bridge the business and academic communities together, while creating meaningful ties to the area for students,” Founder and CEO Gayle Jagel said in statement.  “We are excited that YEA! will continue to make its mark in the Antelope Valley.”

The program operates in more than a hundred communities all over the U.S., with the goal of expanding to chambers in every community across the country.

“YEA! aims to teach students at an early age how to make a job, not just take a job,” Buddika Ekanayake, chairman of the Chamber’s Education Foundation, said in a statement. “At a time when small business growth is extremely challenging in the U.S., young entrepreneurs with the right tools can become a powerful force of innovative thinkers and even employers.”

The national application deadline is Oct. 4. Students will need permission from a parent or guardian to participate. Interested students should prepare answers to two of the three following questions:

• Why are you interested in learning about entrepreneurship?

• If you are currently in the process of launching your own business or social movement, or if you have a creative, innovative idea for a business or social movement, please describe.

• What entrepreneurial story, either from the past or currently, inspires you? Please describe.

Student applicants are also asked to prepare a brief essay of about 300 words where they  describes a situation when they demonstrated at least two of the following characteristics of successful entrepreneurs: persistence, inquisitiveness, self-confidence, tolerance for failure, creativity, innovation, personal initiative, competitiveness, commitment, strong management and organizational skills.

An academic transcript is also required, though an unofficial transcript is acceptable. Students also need a letter of recommendation from a teacher, counselor, sports coach, club adviser, church leader, or personal mentor.

There is also a $20 application fee.

The Lancaster Chamber of Commerce’s nonprofit Education Foundation runs the classes, which are hosted at  Antelope Valley College.

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