Building our next generation of leaders with the Young Entrepreneurs Academy.

We're please to offer this inspirational program for aspiring entrepreneurs in our community.


About the Academy

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) teaches middle and high school go-getters how to start and run their own, REAL businesses.

Celebrating the Spirit of Enterprise and Innovation
Founded in 2004 at the University of Rochester with support from the Kauffman Foundation, YEA! has helped more than 4,000 students nationwide launch over 3,000 businesses and social movements. The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce Leadership Council is excited to introduce YEA! to our community with the inaugural class for the 2015-16 academic year.

Make a Job - Don't Just Take a Job!
YEA! guides students through the process of fulfilling their very own American dream. By bridging the business and educational communities students are taught by trained instructors, and are exposed to guest lecturers, successful entrepreneurs and mentors. Over the course of the program, students:

  • Brainstorm business ideas
  • Write a business plan
  • Interact with business professionals
  • Attend field trips for a behind-the-scenes look at local businesses
  • Pitch their business plan to local investors for startup funding and the opportunity to advance to regional and national competitions
  • Legally register their businesses
  • Participate in a local YEA! Trade Show
  • Launch and run their own business or social movement
  • Graduate from the program with lifelong leadership and business skills


YEA! classes meet October through May. There are no classes during regular school holidays and recesses.

Student Selection Process

YEA! welcomes applications from all students in grades 6-12 who are between 11 and 18 years old. Students interested in starting their own, real business may apply for acceptance into the program by completing the application, which includes an essay and short-answer questions, school transcripts and letter of recommendation.

Once the completed application is received, students may be invited to attend an in-person interview. Acceptance into the program is based on all aspects of the completed application as well as the personal interview. Prior business experience is not required, nor is it required to have a business idea prior to the start of class.
This program offers students the chance to:

  • Develop hands-on entrepreneurial experience to launch their own business or social movement
  • Connect with local entrepreneurs
  • Pitch to a panel of investors for startup funding
  • Gain confidence in their ideas, abilities and presentation skills

Get Involved

Share your business wisdom with aspiring young entrepreneurs and help them get started on the path to success! We're seeking expert professionals to volunteer their time as guest speakers, mentors, investors, graphic designers, field trip hosts, business plan reviewers and more. The time YEA! students spend with adults who encourage their futures is invaluable and you can play an important part role in guiding our future leaders.

If you are interested in getting involved with YEA! and being inspired by your community's great young minds, contact Barbara Hines at (941) 556-4026 or email

Stay connected with the YEA Program on our Facebook Page!


A big thank you to our sponsors, who have helped bring YEA! to Sarasota, including:

 Contributing Support
Charter Sponsor
Investor Panel Judge


Robert Theis,
Delphi Strategic Planning

Bon Eau Enterprises

YEA! USA is made possible by the Kauffman Foundation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and E. Philip Saunders Foundation. We also thank our national supporters, Sam's Club and Southwest Airlines

Success Stories

Click below to see why students nationwide participate in YEA!
Watch 2015 Saunders Scholars Video
YEA! Student Feature
YEA! Student Feature - Emmarose Larson, owner and founder of Crazy Creations of Venice (Englewood Review)

Contact Us

For more information, call (941) 556-4026 or email Barbara Hines at

Young Entrepreneurs Academy and Leadership Sarasota

Program Background

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a 29 week-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. The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce is excited to be introducing YEA! to the Sarasota and Manatee Communities!

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. YEA! has graduated 4,000 students who have started over 3,000 businesses and social movements! YEA! graduates started as students, and left the program as CEOs of their own companies!


Leadership on Facebook

Stay connected with Leadership and Leadership Alumni by visiting their Facebook Page. Get up-to-date information, see photos and upcoming events.

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Welcome to the Leadership Sarasota County Class of 2017. 


LSC has been instrumental in helping me get to really know my community and what it's needs are. In addition, I have had the pleasure of getting to know many of the hundreds of other LSC graduates in our community and many of them have become close friends and business alliances. It has been invaluable in every way.

Larry Face, Next Level Achievement