Helping Our Students MAKE a Job, Not Just TAKE a Job!

Grand Junction Area Chamber’s YEA!  

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a year-long 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 with the support of a grant from the Kauffman Foundation. The Grand Junction Area Chamber is excited to be introducing YEA! to Grand Junction and Mesa County!

YEA! guides middle and high school students through the process of starting and running a legitimate business or social movement over the course of a full academic year. YEA! has graduated almost 4,000 students over the past 12 years, who have started almost 3,000 businesses and social movements! YEA! graduates started as students, and left the program as CEOs of their own companies!

Over the course of the program, students:
• Brainstorm business ideas
• Write a business plan
• Interact with business professionals
• Pitch their business plan to potential “investors” (think Shark Tank meets the Apprentice meets American Idol)
• Obtain funding
• Legally register their businesses
• Participate in a Trade Show
• Actually launch their own businesses or social movements

View the YEA! Spirit of Entrepreneurship video

View the most recent YEA! News

Listen to an interview with Darcy Weir, YEA! Program Manager and 2018 Saunders Scholar and the National YEA! People’s Choice Award winner, Nick Silzell, as he discusses his new business along with his participation in the Grand Junction Young Entrepreneurs Academy. 


This program offers students the chance to:
• Develop the skills necessary to launch their own business or social movement (hands-on entrepreneurial experience!)
• Learn about real businesses – why they succeed or fail.
• Hear from local entrepreneurs.
• Launch their own business or social movement!
• Become more confident in their ideas and their abilities.


YEA! classes will meet October through May, for three hours weekly (with the exception of during school breaks and holiday recess). Applications will be accepted from students in grades 6-12. Students are taught by an instructor, but are exposed to guest lecturers, successful entrepreneurs and business mentors. The class goes on field trips to a variety of local businesses. Finally, the students participate in three major events throughout the year: the Investor Panel, Trade Show and a formal graduation ceremony.


To apply for YEA!, students must:
• Fill out the YEA Student Application
• Complete the essay and the short answer questions
• Submit their transcripts
• Submit a letter of recommendation

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!


Through their interactions with business professionals during the year, YEA! students gain some of the most important knowledge and experience they need to succeed. 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 in to it!

If you are interested in becoming involved with YEA! as a guest speaker, field trip host, or volunteer, contact David Proctor at 970-263-2916 or email

As business leaders, we encourage you to nominate creative, motivated students who pursue their goals with tenacity. Nominated students should have a strong work ethic and should demonstrate high levels of effort on a consistent basis. Please nominate students who have an interest in business and/or starting their own company or social movement. A limited number of scholarships are available. Please be aware that the nomination of a student does not guarantee a scholarship.

Email your nominees to:; or mail to: YEA! Nomination, 360 Grand Avenue, Grand Junction 81501.

For More Information:
David Proctor at
(970) 263-2916

Grand Junction Young Entrepreneurs Academy on Facebook:

YEA! 2023 Saunders Scholar

Volunteers are also key to its success and we want to acknowledge in particular our instructors: Steve Hudson, Heather Lambeth, and Laura Smith.  If you would like to volunteer as a Guest Speaker, Field Trip Host, or Mentor, contact David at the Chamber ( or 970-263-2916).

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Thank you to our founding sponsors, who have helped bring YEA! to Grand Junction.

Presenting Sponsor


Premier Sponsors

Scholarship Sponsors

Alpine Bank Logo 2022

Investor Sponsors

Transportation Sponsor

Supporting Partners