March 13, 2015

Students in grades 6 through 12 from the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) in Danville and Pittsylvania County will take the stage at Danville Community College’s Silverman Auditorium on Wednesday, March 18, at 6 p.m. to present their business plans to an audience that includes a panel of local industry and community leaders.

Each student will have six minutes to pitch their business plan. Based on the appeal and merit of the student’s presentations, representatives from companies and organizations including Danville Community College’s Educational Foundation, Ecomnets, The Launch Place, Donnachaidh Associates, Sam’s Club, Danville Regional Medical Center, and the West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board will determine the amount of funds to award to each business or social movement.

These investors will also select one business that will advance to the YEA! Saunders Scholars National College Scholarship competition, where they will compete for  college scholarships, and an all-expenses paid trip courtesy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to America’s Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C. One student business will also be awarded a $500 shopping spree at their local Sam’s Club.

The 12 students in YEA!, who have been meeting weekly at Danville Community College, are among 8,000 students in 38 states nationwide enrolled in the 30-week entrepreneurial education class that teaches kids how to generate business ideas, conduct market research, write business plans, pitch to a panel of investors, and launch their own, legally-registered companies.

The YEA! Investor Panel Event is free and open to the public. Interviews with young entrepreneurs or the judging panel may be arranged.

The Investor Panel will be comprised of prominent members of the local business community, including:

  • Michelle Eakin of Sam’s Club in Danville
  • Shannon Hair of the Danville Community College Educational Foundation
  • Michael Duncan of Donnachaidh Associates
  • Raj Kosuri of Ecomnets
  • Eva Doss of The Launch Place
  • Bebe Janish of Danville Regional Medical Center
  • Lisa Fultz of the West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board


The emcee for the event will be Laurie S. Moran, President & CEO of the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce.

The Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce offers the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) for Danville and Pittsylvania County students between the ages of 11 and 18. YEA! is an innovative program that guides students through the process of starting their own real business. 

The YEA! program leads students through the process of 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 after their graduation from the program.

The program requires an eight-month commitment from its young executives.  In that time they brainstorm and form their enterprises, make pitches to potential investors, obtain funding, register their companies with governmental agencies, and actually launch their own company or social movement. Business mentors, graphic designers, and local entrepreneurs support the students throughout the program and all of the learning is real and experiential.

YEA! teaches students at an early age how to make a job, not just take a job. YEA! was developed at the University of Rochester with support from The Kauffman Foundation.