Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!)

Helping our students MAKE a job not just TAKE a job!

First Program in Washington state!

YEA! Background

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is an afterschool program that teaches middle and high school students how to start and run their own REAL businesses. YEA! was developed at the University of Rochester in 2004. Today, 2,298 students nationwide have graduated YEA!, launched more than 1,700 real businesses, and received millions of dollars in college scholarships as a result in their participation in YEA! The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber and the University of Washington Tacoma are excited to offer local Tacoma students grades 6-12 for a second year kicking off in January! 

YEA! Overview

Classes are held from 4 to 7 p.m. at the University of Washington Tacoma beginning in January. Classes are not held during regular school holidays and recesses. 

YEA! graduates start as students and leave the program as CEOs of their own companies! In class, business leaders and entrepreneurs from the Tacoma community guide the students through the business development process:

  • Brainstorm business ideas
  • Write a business plan
  • Pitch their business plan to potential investors (think "Shark Tank" meets "The Apprentice")
  • Obtain funding
  • Legally register their businesses
  • Participate in a Trade Show
  • Launch their own businesses or social movements
  • Graduate as CEOs of their own companies!

Along the way students interact with successful business professionals. From exciting field trips, guest speakers and volunteers to the YEA! CEO Roundtable, YEA! Investor Panel, and YEA! Trade Show, students are exposed again and again to the vibrant Tacoma community.

Watch the "Spirit of Entrepreneurship" Video!



How To Apply

To apply for YEA!, students must:

Once the completed application packet is received, students will be asked to come in for an interview. Acceptance in the program is based on all aspects of an application, as well as the personal interview. Prior experience with business is not required!

Scholarships are available; click here to view the application.

Nominate a Student for YEA!

Members of the business and education community can nominate a YEA! student by contacting Lynnette Buffington at 253.682.1726 or or by completing and emailing the YEA! Student Nomination Form - Business Leader or YEA! Student Nomination Form - Educator/Administrator.

Watch the Student Recruitment Video!

How Business Professionals Can Get Involved

Through their interactions with business professionals during the year, YEA! students gain some of the most important knowledge and experience they need to succeed. You can also nominate a student(s) to participate in the program.

Local professionals volunteer their time and expertise as guest speakers, mentors, investors, graphic designers, field trip hosts, business plan reviewers, and much more. The time YEA! students spend with adults who encourage their futures is invaluable, and participants often report getting even more out of their participation than they put into it!

If you are interested in becoming involved with YEA! as a sponsor, guest speaker, field trip host, or volunteer, contact Lynnette Buffington by phone at 253.682.1726 or by email at

For Information contact Lynnette Buffington by phone at 253.682.1726 or by email at