By Dhomonique Ricks
Lynchburg, VA – Lynchburg is the springboard for a new chamber program in the state of Virginia that is sort of like the show Shark Tank on a local level. It is called, “YEA!” or the Young Entrepreneurs Academy.
The six-month program is for middle and high school students with an interest in business. The goal is to give kids a leg up when they graduate from high school by giving student entrepreneurs the chance to make their dreams come true.
It is all about helping students like Kevon Mccray succeed in the business world.
“My goal is to succeed and open my own shoe company,” Mccray said.
He is going to be able to take a shot at achieving his dream through “YEA!”
“It’s incredibly exciting and I think it speaks a lot to our own Lynchburg Chamber,” said Darlene Mack, co-owner of Successful Innovations.
Business owners like Mack are elated to jump on board.
“To have the opportunity to be able to participate in a program like this and to see young children and to see their business ideas come to fruition, this is just tremendous,” Mack said.
“If you have a dream and you’re willing to work hard, this is for you,” said Christine Kennedy, executive vice president of the Lynchburg Chamber.
In these classes, entrepreneurs and local business owners will mentor them.
“The curriculum is going to give them what they need to excel and succeed,” Kennedy said.
They will also get to travel a bit.
“We’ll take some field trips. We’ll go see some innovative cool businesses in this community, so they’ll get to see what options are out there,” Kennedy said.
In the end, students will walk away with a sold work foundation and a some business experience. The six month program wraps up with students presenting their business plans to an investor panel.
“You will actually, if you’re successful in making your presentation and pitching your big business idea, you will have funding to launch your business at the end of May,” Kennedy said.
The program kicks off this December, and the deadline to apply is November 12. There are still about 15 spots open for the program.