The Northshore chapter of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, otherwise known as ‘YEA! Northshore’, is a leadership program for 6-12th graders that is offered at the university.
The year-long program was designed to transform students into young entrepreneurs while giving them business and communication skills.
Elizabeth McDougal, marketing instructor and advisor for ‘YEA! Northshore,’ explained the affiliation between the university and the program.
“We are a chapter of a national organization that recently started a partnership with Southeastern,” explained McDougal. “Some of the Southeastern College of Business faculty members, along with a small business development center here, help run the program for 6-12th graders in the community that want to start their own businesses.”
Heather Budden, project manager of the program, discussed how the program has helped students transform ideas to businesses with more opportunities.
“We help them start a business from the beginning, from an idea all the way to the finish point where they actually register their business,” said Budden. “They compete for real money, kind of like a ‘Shark Tank’ type of situation. They get real investors and have the chance to compete on a regional and national level to win scholarships and more funding.”
Students collaborate with mentors who helped them design and establish business plans. In the later stages of the program, all students have the opportunity to present their ideas to a panel of investors.
William Joubert, business center director and mentor, described the mentoring process and how it impacts the students.
“The program is kind of a bootcamp approach,” explained Joubert. “We’re pulling them through what it takes to start a company. So, they’re actually going to start companies, and some will have potential companies. So, we’re taking real life experiences and helping them build through this journey.”
According to the official YEA! Northshore website, students get the opportunity to learn about franchises, government franchises and business expense management.
‘YEA! Northshore’ also partakes in community activities that allow students to interact with professionals in the business industry. Budden discussed the main events that take place throughout the program.
“We take field trips out into the community and expose them to real world businesses, so they can see how these businesses are operating,” shared Budden. “We bring in guest speakers that had experience in a variety of areas. So, we bring in lawyers, accountants, business owners and government officials that work in the business community.”
McDougal expressed appreciation for the program’s national success rate and shared her hope that young students would continue their education at the university.
“Nationwide, 98% of students from the YEA! program graduate high school,” said McDougal. “I believe about 85% go on to college, which is way above the national average. It’s pretty amazing, and it’s definitely our hope that some of them will come to Southeastern.”
The tuition is $995 and covers all meals and expenses throughout the program and scholarships of up to $700 are also offered.