YEA! 14th Annual Saunders Scholars Competition

YEA! 14th Annual Saunders Scholars Competition

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Join us live as teens across the U.S. compete to be recognized as America's next top teen entrepreneur!

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Two finalists will be chosen from each Regional Panel to present their business idea in 3 minutes, followed by 3 minutes of Q&A from our judges. The competition and finals competition will both be live streamed from YEA!'s YouTube and Facebook channels.

The students will compete for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place with cash prizes and scholarships totaling over $80,000! Registered viewers from around the country will get the opportunity to vote via text for the $1,000 cash prize People's Choice Award.

Register today for FREE to support these incredible students as they demonstrate their innovations and perseverance during this unprecedented time!

Schedule of Events

Panel 1: 11:00am to 12:30pm EST

1. Chicago - Female Strong, IL

2. Blair County Chamber of Commerce, PA

3. Mansfield/Richland Educational Foundation in partnership with the Richland Chamber of Commerce, OH

4. Central Ohio, OH

5. Webster Central School District, NY

6. Philadelphia, PA

7. Somerset Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, KY

Panel 2: 12:30pm to 2:00pm EST

1. Blairsville/River Valley School District, PA

2. Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, CO

3. Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce, CA

4. Northshore, LA

5. Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, NY

6. Baton Rouge, LA

7. Frisco Chamber of Commerce, TX

Panel 3: 2:00pm to 3:30pm EST

1. Finger Lakes Community College, NY

2. Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, WA

3. Palatine Chamber of Commerce, IL

4. Palos Verdes Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, CA

5. Mohawk Valley Community College, NY

6. Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, VA

7. Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, FL

The Final YEA! Saunders Scholars Competition will take place June 4, 2022 at 4:00pm EST with the final winners announced at 5:00pm EST.

For Press Outlets

Who Will Be Named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneur?

Teens to compete in national entrepreneurship pitch competition.

Rochester, New York—On June 4th, 21 teens from around the country will compete to see who will be named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneur during the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) 14th Annual Saunders Scholars National Competition. The virtual live Shark Tank style pitch competition will award over $80,000 in cash prizes and college scholarships to the Saunders College of Business at RIT to the students with the best businesses in the U.S. Viewers will be able to cast their vote in real-time for the People’s Choice Award.

21 student semifinalists from 12 states will compete virtually representing 21 schools from across the country for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and a People’s Choice Award. The national competition will be a live broadcast from ABC-TV 13 WHAM Rochester, NY studio and will be live streamed on YEA!’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Students first competed locally in front of Young Entrepreneurs Academy investor panels in their hometowns in early 2022. The top business from each YEA! chapter was selected by a local panel of judges and will now go head to head at four semi-final panels to take place and streamed live throughout the day on June 4th from 11:30am to 5:00pm Eastern Time. Two student businesses from each semi-final panel, for a total of six student businesses will advance to the finals round and pitch live from 4:00pm to 5:00pm Eastern Time in front of thousands of viewers. National winner announcements at 4:55pm Eastern Time. Viewers must register at to participate in the text-to-vote People’s Choice Award.

“The competition is an incredible event celebrating the creativity, grit, and perseverance of America’s young people,” said YEA! funder and billionaire entrepreneur, Phil Saunders. “This year more than ever, we need to acknowledge the achievements and innovations of these young people.”

The YEA! program is designed to help middle school and high school students build confidence through entrepreneurship education. Students participate in a nine-month curriculum often hosted in partnership with local chambers of commerce, colleges and universities, and middle and high schools. With the help of local business leaders, the students design, pitch, and launch businesses, complete with founding documents, bank accounts, and websites.

“YEA! is such an amazing experience for our community and for our Chamber,” shared Troy M. McLellan, President & CEO of the Greater Boca Raton, Florida, Chamber of Commerce and member of the National Board of Directors of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. “Not only are we able to engage our members in a meaningful way, but we’re also creating a professional network for our young people, which we hope will encourage them to keep their talents here.”

“We could not be more proud of the work these young people are doing and of our partners who are leading the charge across the Country delivering YEA!’s entrepreneurship education programs,” said YEA! founder and CEO, Gayle Jagel. Our chambers of commerce, incubators, accelerators, universities, colleges and K12 partners who come together through YEA! are igniting the sparks of innovation in their communities and our country. Just imagine what our world would look like if every student got the chance to bring their ideas to life.”

This year’s awards will be sponsored in part by the E. Philip Saunders Foundation, Southwest Airlines, and the Saunders College of Business at RIT. Since 2004, YEA! has helped over 11,0000 students launch 9,000 businesses and has had alumni compete on ABC’s Shark Tank, product feature on Good Morning America, and YEA! graduates have raised millions of dollars in VC funding.

More about the Young Entrepreneurs Academy

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a 501(c) 3 offering groundbreaking series of classes and workshops that teach middle and high school students how to start and run their own businesses. Throughout the program, 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 to 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. For more information, visit

Saunders Foundation

E. Phillip Saunders, founder of numerous notable companies and chairman of several Boards of Directors, is known for his philanthropy and promotion of the Upstate New York economy. Mr. Saunders is a firm believer in the notion that an educated workforce is the key to economic growth. Mr. Saunders serves as a crucial Benefactor of RIT’s business school, thus earning the name Saunders College of Business at RIT.

Saunders College of Business at RIT

A world-renowned business school, the Saunders College of Business at RIT is driven in elevating students to make immediate and enduring contributions to organizations and the world through career-oriented experiences, education and research, while integrating business, technology and design thinking.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest is one of the most honored airlines in the world, known for a triple bottom line approach that contributes to the carrier's performance and productivity, the importance of its People and the communities they serve, and an overall commitment to efficiency and the planet. Learn more about how the carrier gives back to communities across the world by visiting

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