Background on Program 

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. Orlando Science Center is proud to be the first science center in the country to partner with this incredible program.

YEA! guides students through the process of starting and running a legitimate business or social movement over the course of a full academic year. As their flagship museum partner, we are happy to announce our second year of YEA as we move forward with the Class of 2016!  Last year’s 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 ABC’s “Shark Tank!")
  • Obtain funding
  • Legally register their businesses
  • Participate in a Trade Show
  • Actually launch their own businesses or social movements



Why Apply?

This program offers students the chance to:

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

Organization of Program 

YEA! classes will meet at Orlando Science Center on Tuesday evenings from 4:30pm – 7:30pm, beginning at the end of October and run through May. Applications will be accepted from students in grades 6-12. There will be no classes held on regular student holidays such as winter break and spring break. Classes will be led by a YEA! trained Science Center Instructor and a host of guest lecturers, successful entrepreneurs and business mentors will be embedded throughout the entire program.

Additionally the students will have an opportunity to take six field trips to a variety of local businesses. Student participate in three major events throughout the year: the Investor Panel, Trade Show and a formal graduation ceremony.

Student Selection Process

To apply for YEA!, students must:

  • Fill out the YEA! 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 participate in a formal one-on-one interview. Acceptance in the program is based on all aspects of an application, as well as this interview. Prior experience with business is not required!

 How Business Professionals Can Get Involved

Through their interactions with business professionals during the year, YEA! students gain the 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. These adults have a major impact on the YEA! students as they engage with them on all aspects of the development of their business plan. The time spent with these adult professionals is invaluable and helps set the YEA! Students on a path to achieve their vision. Last year, our volunteers shared that they received a generous return on their investment of time and talent.

If you are interested in becoming involved with YEA! as a guest speaker, fieldtrip host, or volunteer, contact Heather Norton at 407.514.2097 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

For further information about the YEA! Orlando program, please visit our partner at Orlando, Inc.

Local students of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Class of 2015 at Orlando Science Center received CEO status on May 14, 2015 at the commencement ceremony in the Digital Adventure Theater: A National Geographic Experience.

After months of hard work, José Fajardo, Executive Vice President of the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce; JoAnn Newman, Orlando Science Center President & CEO; and Nicole Rivera, YEA Program Coordinator awarded the class their diplomas.

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Local students from the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Class of 2015 at Orlando Science Center revealed their new start-up businesses to the public at the YEA! Trade Show on May 9, 2015 at Orlando Fashion Square.

Mall shoppers were able to learn about the students' businesses, purchase their products and services, and see prototypes. The presentation was a culmination of nine months of hard work resulting in the graduates owning and operating their own businesses. The Young Entrepreneurs Academy is an educational program co-hosted by the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce and Orlando Science Center.

Thank you to Orlando Fashion Square for hosting this great event!

Photo Credit: RF Photography

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Student entrepreneurs presented their business plans before a panel of local investors to obtain funding for their enterprises at the Young Entrepreneur Academy Investor Panel on Wednesday, April 15 at Orlando Science Center.

Fifteen middle and high school students had six minutes to pitch their concepts. Based on the appeal and merit of the students’ plans and presentations, representatives from companies like Bright House Networks, EA SPORTS and Engineering and Computer Simulations determined the amount of funds to allocate to each.

The participating investors also selected Bridget Sullivan of Americamo to advance to the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Saunders Scholars National College Scholarship competition, where she will compete for hundreds of thousands of dollars in college scholarships, a fast-track application pass to apply for ABC’s "Shark Tank," and an all-expenses paid trip to attend America’s Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C. courtesy of the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Photo Credit: RF Photography

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Six Orlando leaders lead a question-and-answer panel for Orlando Science Center's inaugural class of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy program. These leaders were able to impart their knowledge to entrepreneurs on the start of their journey.

Participants included JoAnn Newman, president & CEO of Orlando Science Center; Jose Fajardo, executive vice president of Orlando, Inc.; Dr. Mansooreh Mollaghasemi, chairman and CEO of Productivity Apex, Inc.; Catriona Harris, owner and co-founder of Uproar PR; Marty Rubin, CEO of Smart City; Cari Coats, executive director of the Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship; Robert Finfrock, owner and president of FINFROCK Industries, Inc.; Luke Widmer, CEO of Oakstone Capital Parners; and Mark Brewer, president & CEO of the Central Florida Foundation.

YEA transforms local middle and high school students into real entrepreneurial successes. Over the course of nine months, students brainstorm and form their enterprises, make pitches to real investors, obtain funding, register their companies with governmental agencies, and by the end, launch their own business or social movement.

Photo Credit: RF Photography

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