Empowering Girls to Step into BUSINESS and LIFE

Embrace your passion.  Live your dream. Change the World.







The YEA! Chicago program is about building the skills and confidence for girls to THRIVE in business and life.  The Young Entrepreneur's Academy has developed a program that teaches students how to select, research, vet, develop, and market a business.  From idea generation to pitching their businesses for start-up investment funds, this six month course is truly transformative. 

As the only all-girls YEA! program in the world, this powerful program is also about HOW to do business, focusing on the principles and values that go into doing business well - communication, business etiquette, accountability, integrity, courage, and perseverance among others. Because as we know, becoming an entrepreneur isn't for the faint of heart!

Our six-month after-school program begins in October 2019 and ends in March 2020. Classes are held on Tuesday evenings between 5pm-8pm each week except for holidays and winter break at “1871” on the 12th Floor of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.  


* Full orientation for Students and Parents

* All course materials

* Field trips to local businesses

* Opportunities to meet top local business leaders

* Business mentor to support the student's work through a portion of the program

* Support and instruction throughout the course from the Class Instructor, Program Manager, and experts in their field

* Opportunity to earn start-up funding 

* Networking opportunities

* Delicious, healthy meals each week

* Opportunity to compete to represent the YEA! Chicago chapter at the Saunders Scholarship in Rochester, NY in May 2020 and compete for up to $50,000 in scholarship funds.


Congratulations, Aleksandra!

Our 2019 Saunders Scholar National Semi-Finalist!

And the winner is...Aleksandra Dabic!  A freshman at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, IL, Aleksandra's business was selected from among 13 student businesses in the YEA! Chicago class  by a panel of 13 investors at our recent Investor Panel Student Business Event on March 5, 2019.  Our investor panel was made up of an incredible group of leaders managing billion dollar companies.  There was some tough competition but in the end,  Aleksandra's business - SmartAlek - impressed our Investor Panel the most.  Aleksandra had the opportunity to present her business at the Saunders Scholar National Competition on May 3, 2019 in Rochester, NY.  While she didn't make the final competition, we couldn't be more proud of the strong pitch she made (there was some tough competition!) or excited for Aleksandra and where she takes SmartAlek from here!


2019 Events

FALL 2019

2019-2020 YEA! Chicago Program Begins!

Tuesday evenings

1871, The Merchandise Mart 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago

Event Details

FALL 2019

2019-2020 YEA! Chicago Program Begins!

Tuesday evenings

1871, The Merchandise Mart 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago

Event Details

About Us


Our Program

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a groundbreaking and exciting program that transforms local middle and high school students into real, confident entrepreneurs. Through the six-month long program, students in grades 6-12 generate business ideas, conduct market research, write business plans, pitch to a panel of investors, and launch their very own companies.  It's a truly transformative experience for every student who steps into this incredible opportunity. 


Why YEA! Chicago?

Seeing the need for a program that supports and promotes the capabilities of girls and young women, YEA! Chicago co-founder Emily Smith saw an opportunity to bring the Young Entrepreneurs Academy program to Chicago in 2014.  Now in its 5th year, YEA! Chicago is the only all-girls chapter in the nation and has grown in size, network, and is on a path to expand it's reach in Chicago. "We couldn't be more excited about the future of women in business" says Emily, "and by focusing not only on the skills of building a business but on building character and a sense of self that helps a young woman engage her mind and heart...to trust herself, and at that young age, it's a game changer."  


Our Team

Our amazing team of volunteers and community support is committed to helping these young entrepreneurs grow, learn, and realize their dreams!  From our YEA! Chicago team, The Spirit Foundation Board of Directors, our community partners at 1871, Goldman Sachs 10K Small Businesses, NAWBO Chicago, and our class/program volunteers, we take our convictions and turn them into action. This is one powerful team! If you'd like to be part of our nonprofit organization and support our Girls, contact us at info@yeachicago.org to find out more!

Help Our Cause

Join us in our mission to help girls and young women realize their capabilities in business and gain confidence to step into anything.  Whether sponsoring a student's tuition, meals, or contributing to our awards fund, every dollar is deeply important to our mission.  Thank you for being part of our mission to build the future for women...today!  Your contribution to The Spirit Foundation, the 501(c)(3) parent company of YEA! Chicago, will directly contribute to the growth, wellbeing, and development of our students.  Thank you!

Pay with PayPal or a debit/credit card

Stay in Touch