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Cultivating Young Entrepreneurs

YES NacetHigh school students as entrepreneurs; is that possible? Maybe a lot of people don’t think so, but when you talk with anyone who is involved in the YES (Young Entrepreneurial Scholars) program sponsored by NACET and the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce, you get a whole different picture. This innovative program for high school sophomores, juniors, seniors or students who have just graduated, is now in its third year attracting students who are creative, innovative and determined to put those ideas into action.

NACET Senior Administrative Assistant Stacy Fobar says this program is designed to “Stop the Brain Drain” of creative, smart and innovative young people leaving Flagstaff because they do not believe there are many career opportunities. According to Fobar, this is a program that “primes the entrepreneurial pipeline” and helps students realize they can create their own companies or businesses in Flagstaff that, in turn, can offer job opportunities to many other people.

NACET representatives visit local high schools to talk with students, counselors and teachers about how the YES program works. Students are asked to complete an application found on the NACET website and submit two letters of recommendation (one academic, one personal). Applications are reviewed by a selection committee and students are interviewed and then chosen for the program. The application fee is $25. Students who are accepted into the program will spend all day Monday through Thursday learning new skills and interacting with business leaders and business owners. Then they have the opportunity to put what they learn into practice. On Friday of YES week, the students present their ideas for a business, complete with a business plan, a website, PowerPoint presentation and video to demonstrate what they have learned.

Last year, Kinney Anderson was part of the YES program. She says she is still using the skills that she learned. Anderson is a member of Coconino High School’s Robotic Team, the CocoNuts. This team has formed a non-profit business, which enables them to compete as part of the FIRST Robotics Competition. Building robots is an expensive venture so Anderson helped write a 50-page business plan to attract investors to make sure the team can keep competing.

“We do everything in this business and have a $30,000 a year budget to work with,” she said. “By the end of the week you will know so much about all aspects of running a business.”

She suggests that even students who are not sure they want to start their own businesses could benefit from the experience. “You meet lots of nice people; you make new friends and you might find out that you really like the idea of having your own business.”

Trish Rensink and Bret Carpenter facilitate YES week. “I find it is energizing and affirming for me to work with these young students who really do want to make a difference in the world,” said Rensink. “It renews my faith in this generation.”

Carpenter sees another benefit. “Working with youth encourages your own possibilities. It generates great ideas and lots of energy.” He says that he and Rensink help the students tie everything that is presented during the week together. His strengths are in technology and marketing while Rensink’s strengths are in organizational management and coaching. FBN


YES week runs July 22- 26. Information can be found on NACET’s website, http://www.nacet.org/yes-week-2013.

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