WESTON – DC Everest Senior High School and director of secondary education Steve Pophal have been awarded $2,000 by the Wisconsin Retired Educators’ Association Foundation. The award was given to support the school’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) program.

The YEA! program is a unique workforce and economic development initiative that guides students in middle and high school through the process of creating and launching their own real businesses over the course of a school year. YEA!’s success is rooted in a close partnership between the DC Everest School District and the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce. This partnership was formed to jointly address the region’s critical need to rapidly develop a skilled and experienced workforce.

YEA! is a national program and the chapter located in the Wausau region is the only one to launch in Wisconsin. In 2015-16, twelve high school students graduated from the program. Four of the businesses created in that group are still running with all of the students reporting increased comprehension in areas like finance, marketing, public speaking and business development.

Currently, thirteen eighth to twelfth grade students are creating twelve different businesses ranging from selling organic herbs grown with an aquaponics system to teaching technology classes to the retired and elderly.

“As a relatively new program, we are still building up our pool of local business sponsors and, although having enough sponsors by our third year to be self-sustaining, we are still in need of additional support this year.” said Pophal. “We are therefore requesting this grant to help provide funding for approximately four businesses. This grant will be a true investment in not only the students, but also our community. The region will benefit not just from their products and services, but also from the enhanced business acumen of these future workers and business leaders.”

The financial award is part of an annual Challenge Award program sponsored by the Wisconsin Retired Educators’ Association Foundation. It recognizes five schools each year, in each of five statewide regional districts. From year to year, the awards are rotated between elementary schools, middle schools and high schools. The other programs awarded this year included Birchwood Schools, Fond du Lac High School, Brown Deer Middle High School and Deerfield High School.

YEA! is sponsored annually at the platinum level by CGI and at the silver level by M3 Insurance and the Village of Kronenwetter. Sun Printing Inc is the print and marketing sponsor, while Domtar is the paper sponsor. Opportunities are still available in the YEA! program for businesses who would like to demonstrate their commitment to helping the next generation of business leaders.

If you are interested in becoming a YEA! sponsor or would like to learn more about how to support the next generation of entrepreneurs, contact Sara Guild at sguild@wausauchamber.com or call 715-845-6231. Details on the program, including additional volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, can be viewed online at wausauchamber.com.

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About the Young Entrepreneurs Academy:

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a 501(c)(3) offering groundbreaking year-long classes that teach middle and high school students how to start and run their own businesses. Throughout the class, students develop business ideas, write business plans, conduct market research, pitch their plans to a panel of investors for startup funds, and launch and run their own, fully formed companies and social movements. The project-based program empowers students to take charge of their futures.

Founded in 2004 at the University of Rochester with support from the Kauffman Foundation, YEA! today serves thousands of students nationwide. In 2011, the United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation became a national sponsor and partner of the Academy to help celebrate the spirit of enterprise among today’s youth and tomorrow’s future leaders.

YEA! bridges the business and educational communities to fulfill its mission of teaching more students how to make a job, not just take a job. YEA! is made possible by The Kauffman Foundation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the E. Philip Saunders Foundation. For more information, visit yeausa.org.

About the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce:

The Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce is the source for business information in the Wausau Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). We strengthen member businesses and enhance the region by building business success. For more information on the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce, visit us online at www.wausauchamber.com or call 715-845-6231.