The educational program helps students 11-18 years old start and run businesses and social movements over the course of an academic year with the help of mentors, events and classes. But this year’s class is going to look different, said Peter Burns, one of YEA’s program managers.
“The impact with COVID[-19] forced us to re-look at how we were delivering everything,” Burns said.
The program will be delivered virtually this school year, which could allow for students outside of Frisco to join, Burns said. Over 100 students were in attendance for a virtual information session at the end of August.
“We had people from outside the state that also attended,” Burns said. “That’s another big plus for us.”
This will not be the first time the program switched to remote instruction. In the spring, YEA’s 2019-20 class switched to virtual classes after schools closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the students’ annual trade show and graduation had to be canceled, Burns said continuing classes in the final months of the school year was an important example to set for students.
“We can’t give up,” he said. “We can’t stop. We’re not teaching them anything if we do that.”
The application deadline to join this year’s YEA class is Sept. 11, and classes will begin Oct. 6. As with every school year, Burns said the goal is to bring on at least 24 students.
YEA leaders are working to pivot many of the in-person components of the program, such as field trips, business pitch opportunities and a CEO round-table, said Keith Britton, another YEA program manager.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how we can make sure they get the most bang for their buck—the most pleasant learning experience from the program—given that we are in a virtual environment,” Britton said.
YEA instructor Kevin Thompson said finding opportunity through the pandemic will be part of this year’s curriculum.
“When we go back to normal, it’s not going to be like it was. It’s going to be a new normal,” Thompson said. “How do you position yourself to take advantage of this new normal?”
While YEA is on a new path this year, Thompson said the program will continue supporting students in the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, just as it has in the last decade.
“It’s now about 200 students that we’ve impacted their lives,” he said. “And we can see the fruits of our labor in the success all of these students are having as young professionals.”
Burns, Thompson and Britton all played a part in starting YEA in Frisco from Day One.
Burns said he is excited for YEA’s 10th year, especially as the program continues receiving support from its city of Frisco and Frisco ISD partners.
“There is a need for entrepreneurial education, business education, practical education for students,” he said. “The environment we’re in right now really creates opportunities for entrepreneurship.”