Young Entrepreneurs Program

The vision of the Young Entreprenuers Program is to help create a community where young people are empowered to take responsibility for their personal and professional future through creating and developing their own business plan to achieve financial independence.  The mission of the Young Entrepreneurs Program is to promote entrepreneurship opportunities for our students, encouraging them by providing the knowledge, resources and support necessary to create their own small business which in turn will enhance our local economy. By empowering our students through this program, they will transition into the workforce with a better chance to achieve their financial and professional goals.

Vision Statement

The vision of the Young Entreprenuers Program is to help create a community where young people are empowered to take responsibility for their personal and professional future through creating and developing their own business plan to achieve financial independence.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Young Entreprenuers Program is to promote entrepreneurship opportunities for young people, to create small businesses and enhance the local economy, to improve the community by empowering students as they transition into the workforce to achieve their financial and professional goals, and to provide the knowledge, resources and support necessary for their success.

Values

Education - teaching the next generation about running a business.

Integrity - always acting in the best interest of all parties involved, following the golden rule.

Creativity/Ingenuity - thinking outside the box, doing something new, or in a new way.

Pride in your Work/Effort - give your best effort, autograph your work with excellence, your hard work pays off.

Responsibility/Accountability - developing and maintaining a good reputation, honoring your commitments, doing what you say you are going to do and what you are allowed to do.

Having a Sense of Community - valuing family, family, friends, peers, clients, and other professionals.

Generosity - working together, giving back, and paying it forward.

Structure

The following is a general outline of how the Young Entrepreneurship Program (YEP) works:

The Champaign Unit 4 District Coordinator of Career Programs will conduct a group presentation for students at each high school in the fall of the school year. Juniors and seniors are eligible to participate and each student that wants to pursue this opportunity will need to complete a YEP application and submit it to the YEP coordinators at their respective high school. A maximum of twenty students from our three high schools will be selected to participate in the program. All applications will be reviewed by the YEP Advisory Team which is made up of the District Coordinator of Career Programs, the high school YEP coordinators and local business men and women. After the Advisory Team reviews all of the student applications, those students that are accepted by the YEP Advisory Team to participate, will then be informed by the District Coordinator of Career Programs. If the student accepts the invitation to participate in the YEP, the Advisory Team will then be responsible for securing a local entrepreneur who will serve as a mentor for the student. Effort will be made by the YEP Advisory Team to make sure the interests, goals, values, skills, talents and most importantly the personality of the student match, as closely as possible, those of an entrepreneur in order for the student to have a meaningful educational experience.

The students and their mentors will form what we call our POD (Professional Organization & Development) Group. One of the goals of YEP is for each student and mentor to meet once a week based on their mutual schedules and availability. The POD group will meet once a month.

These POD group meetings will provide the structure for several of the key aspects of this program. The POD group meetings will be used as a chance to share ideas, setbacks, and success stories. The meetings will be ideal venues to provide additional training and workshops on core business practices, and to hear from successful entrepreneurs in the community. The POD group will provide a necessary level of accountability, and will be empowered to make decisions about topics the group feels they need in order to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful.

The ultimate goal of YEP is to incorporate the concept of micro-lending. The hope is for micro-lending to be available and used by all the program participants to help incubate new business plans that are developed by our Unit 4 students. The loan repayment program will be established by the YEP Advisory Team to seek initial investments from local entrepreneurs which will serve as seed money for the micro-lending program. The ultimate goal of the YEP is to be self-sustaining and cost neutral as students repay their loans and ultimately become mentors and investors themselves.

The student and mentor will follow a guide based on sound and standardized business principals as the student begins the process of forming a business plan for his or her company. This guide will cover topics such as creating an executive summary, marketing, fundraising, compliance with state and federal regulations, as well as other fundamental concepts. The guide will take the mentee and mentor step by step through the process of starting a new business. If the participating student is a junior, the hope is that the student and mentor will pledge to maintain their mentor-mentee relationship at least through the student's senior year, however these business relationships could continue beyond graduation.

Program Timeline

September: There will be an initial informational meeting between the business professionals and the educators likely to be involved in order to formalize the program concepts and to begin to build the relationships that will be critical to the success of the program. This will be the recruitment and commitment of individuals to serve on the YEP Advisory Team.

October/November: The Unit 4 District Coordinator of Career Programs will announce the program to the students at group meetings at each of the three high schools in the Champaign Unit 4 School District. At the conclusion of each meeting the high school YEP coordinators will distribute applications to interested students. Completed applications will be due one week after the meeting. Once applications are received and reviewed by the YEP Advisory Team the students who make it through this stage of the process will be invited to participate in the program.

December/January: The students who are accepted to participate in the YEP are then invited to attend a final program orientation meeting followed by individual interview sessions with their potential mentors. At the conclusion of this meeting all students and mentors should be matched and ready to start working together at the start of the second semester.

January: YEP Advisory team will have a final joint meeting where expectations for the YEP are finalized. In addition, the first date/time and location for the YEP "Kick-Off" meeting will be finalized and a news release will be mailed to all media. All educators and local business members involved in the program will be given a list of the mentor/student teams. Work to continue increasing the size of the business mentor pool will be an ongoing activity of the YEP Advisory Team. The "Young Entrepreneurs Program" YEP is fully implemented and begins with a Community "Kick-Off" meeting. Students and their mentors are introduced with each team presenting a brief overview of the type of business the student has in mind. We will conclude our Community "Kick-Off" meeting with a presentation from a successful local entrepreneur.

February: POD Group meeting with a guest speaker.

March: POD Group meeting with a guest speaker.

April: POD Group meeting with a guest speaker.

May: The community is invited to attend the YEP Expo to see and learn about the Student Businesses that have been created.

June: YEP Advisory Team and Mentors will meet to review and assess the program for growth and improvement and make preparations for the upcoming school year. One of the core concepts of any successful business is the ability to reflect and evaluate on a regular basis. We believe that collecting data and measuring outcomes is a key to the success of this program. We will be observing and reviewing throughout the spring semester a variety of information to be determined by our group with significant input from the educators involved. Our goal is to use this data to increase the success rate for our students who participate in the YEP in the future.

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