Touching The Next Generation | NAWBO


Touching The Next Generation

As successful women entrepreneurs, it’s an honor and an obligation to nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs, especially young women and girls. YEA! (The Young Entrepreneurs Academy) that is redefining entrepreneurship education in America presents a tremendous opportunity to do just that. YEA! is a groundbreaking afterschool program that transforms middle and high school students into confident entrepreneurs. Through the yearlong program, students in grades 6th-12th generate business ideas, conduct market research, write business plans, pitch to a panel of investors and launch their very own companies. YEA! offers the students exciting local business guest lecturers and dynamic field trips to local companies. Students learn how to develop and run a real enterprise in a fun, projects-based approach. They start the program as students and end up as CEOs! YEA! was developed in 2004 at the University of Rochester with support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Today, it is in communities nationwide. The results speak for themselves:

  • 100% of Academy graduates graduate high school on time
  • 99% of Academy graduates enroll in college
  • 19% of YEA! students start second businesses
  • 50% of YEA! students continue businesses for more than one year
  • 49% of YEA! students are female
  • 56% of YEA! students are underrepresented minorities
  • 42% of YEA! students matriculate to the college that hosted their program
  • YEA! students have been awarded over $1 million in scholarships as a result of their involvement in YEA!
  • 1,384 students have graduated from YEA! and have launched 1,093 enterprises

As NAWBO National Chair and past president of the largest NAWBO chapter in the nation, NAWBO-Indianapolis, I am thrilled to share with you that NAWBO will be getting more involved with YEA! The Indianapolis chapter has already identified its host site and is recruiting students! It’s my goal for every NAWBO chapter to embrace the program because it’s really a win-win-win: for our chapters, for their communities and for the next generation of entrepreneurs! NAWBO chapters partnering with YEA! is a tremendous way to enhance our mission and brand while carrying out our strategic iniatives. We will be elevating our communities and sustaining our relationships with corporate partners by supporting diversity initiatives. We will have the opportunity to become better connected with our city and state chambers, who are also involved in YEA!. The important relationships NAWBO chapters will forge while building a successful YEA! program in their communities will not only further entrepreneurship and promote economic growth, but also will help NAWBO connect with local universities that serve as the program host site. And that’s not to mention the fact that a YEA! partnership also gives our members something to be proud of and puts NAWBO front and center with innovative, talented, entrepreneurial young girls—the next generation of NAWBO members. I first met Gayle Jagel, founder and CEO of YEA!, at the U.S. Small Business Summit in Washington DC. Her absolute commitment to developing this young generation of entrepreneurs inspired me to join the cause. Gayle will join us once again at this year’s NAWBO Women’s Business Conference, October 3-5 in Miami. I hope you’ll register to join us for this must-attend event and plan to hear Gayle speak. Ask her how your chapter can get involved with YEA! —Billie Dragoo, NAWBO National Chair