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Building our next generation of leaders with the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. We’re pleased to offer this inspirational program for aspiring entrepreneurs in our community.

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 Palatine Area Chamber of Commerce is excited to introduce YEA! to our community!

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. Think Shark Tank!
  • 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! in-person classes meet November through May, for two hours weekly. There are no classes during regular school holidays and recesses.

[September 18, 2023] Final Application Deadline

[October 2023] Student interviews

[November 2023] Admitted Student & Parent Orientation

[November 2023] Weekly Classes Begin

[April 2024] YEA! Investor Panel

[May 2024] Graduation

[June 2024] Regional Competition (if selected)

[June 2024] National Competition (if selected)

Student Selection Process

YEA! welcomes applications from all students in grades 7-12 who are between 12 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 transcript 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.

Apply Now!

Applications for the 2023-24 program year are open through September 18, 2023.

Start as a student, finish as a CEO! Students ages 12 to 18 and in grades 7 through 12 are eligible to apply. 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

Still interested in learning more? Students, fill out our YEA! Student Interest Form to hear from your local Program Manager!

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 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 Steven Gaus at (847) 359-7200 or email


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

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

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