Directory Search

Login | Not a member? Join the chamber.


Minneapolis Regional Chamber launches Young Entrepreneurs Academy

  • Share:
September 03, 2019
MINNEAPOLIS (September 2019)—The Minneapolis Regional Chamber’s Development Foundation and partner the University of St. Thomas Schulze School of Entrepreneurship are pleased to bring the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) to the area. This program transforms middle and high school students into business owners as part of a weekly entrepreneurship education class beginning this fall. The chamber is the first to offer the program in the state of Minnesota.

YEA! is a cutting-edge program that takes students ages 11 to 18 through the process of creating and launching a real business or social movement over the course of an academic year. 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 will help the Minneapolis Regional Chamber 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 the business community,” said Minneapolis Regional Chamber Director of Foundation, Cheri Gengler. “We are thrilled to be the first in Minnesota to adopt the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. This program will enhance business education for students and provide a unique, challenging and fulfilling experience for all.”  

“YEA! offers a unique model that helps bridge the business and academic communities together, while creating meaningful ties to the area for students. We are excited about launching this expansion in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region,” says YEA! Founder and CEO Gayle Jagel. The program currently operates in more than a hundred communities all over the U.S., with the goal of expanding to chambers of commerce, colleges, universities and school districts 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,” adds Jagel. “At a time when small business growth is declining in the U.S., young entrepreneurs with the right training can become a powerful force of innovative thinkers and employers.”

During the 30-week program, students will brainstorm and form their business ideas, make pitches to investors for startup funding, file DBAs, and launch their own businesses or social movements. Local professionals and entrepreneurs across a variety of industries, such as graphic design, 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.

“One of the interesting components of YEA! is the ‘behind the scenes’ knowledge that local business leaders share with students. Community support will strengthen the program, and the Academy aims to strengthen the community,” says Gengler. “The students will also gain skills that they can apply to any field they choose to enter and will have the foundation to become future leaders.”
YEA! was developed in 2004 at the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY, with support from the Kauffman Foundation. YEA! receives support from the United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the Saunders Foundation, the Deluxe Foundation, Southwest Airlines and Sam’s Club.

  • 100% of Academy graduates graduate high school on time
  • 99% of Academy graduates enroll in college
  • 49% of YEA! students are female
  • 56% of YEA! students are underrepresented minorities
  • 19% of YEA! students start second businesses
  • YEA! students have been awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships as a result of their involvement in YEA!
  • Over 9,000 students have launched more than 7,000 real businesses in America
YEA! classes will be run by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber’s Development Foundation and hosted at the University of St. Thomas Schulze School of Entrepreneurship on the Minneapolis Campus. Student applications for the program are due by September 15, 2019. The chamber received a portion of the funding for the program through a grant provided by the Deluxe Foundation.

For more information visit or contact Cheri Gengler at or call (612) 390-9160.

The Minneapolis Regional Chamber Development Foundation
The Minneapolis Regional Chamber Development Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, supports the work and mission of the chamber to improve our economy and quality of life.

The Foundation supports the work and mission of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber to create a vibrant and equitable regional economy. The foundation focuses on programs that promote leadership development, corporate philanthropy and economic development initiatives.

The vision of the foundation is to create a vibrant and successful region by developing business leader’s community leadership skills and civic-engagement; by facilitating community-wide conversations on issues that will directly impact our region’s future success; and by elevating and promoting corporate giving as a regional legacy.

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy, Inc.
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a 501(C) 3 offering groundbreaking year-long classes that teach middle and high school students how to start and run their own businesses. Throughout the class, students develop business ideas, write business plans, conduct market research, pitch their plans to a panel of investors for startup funds, and launch and run their own, fully formed companies and social movements. The project-based program empowers students to take charge of their futures. For more information, visit
Devan Wielgos, Communications Manager
(612) 370-9167