Atlanta - The recession left a crippling effect on young people trying to get a foothold in the job market. While unemployment is down to 7.3 percent, for those under 25, the rate is more than double at 15.3 percent. And, just over half are only working full-time. So how do you help remedy a dismal picture and prepare young people for success? According to Youth Entrepreneurs® Georgia (YEGeorgia), the answer may surprise you…you prepare them to think like an entrepreneur. Originally formed as Youth Entrepreneurs® Atlanta in 2006, and funded exclusively by Georgia-Pacific, YEGeorgia is a business education program targeted toward high school students that uncorks their entrepreneurial aspirations and nurtures their skills.
YEGeorgia’s year-long classes produce graduates who have an edge. Entrepreneurial-minded students naturally develop communication and teamwork skills that college recruiters and employers are desperately seeking right now. Students are taught to be accountable for their actions and how to execute a real business plan. They’re also exposed to the competitive nature of business and the need to innovate to be successful.
YEGeorgia students also learn lessons that go far beyond the classroom. “YEGeorgia students discover who they are, learn to think like a business owner, and most importantly, realize that life doesn’t just happen to them - they have control in shaping their own future,” said JaKathryn Ross, executive director of YEGeorgia.
“YEGeorgia helped me become a better public speaker and a leader,” said Felicia Williams, a South Atlanta High School senior and a 2013 YEGeorgia graduate. “Before I took the class, I was really nervous about talking to anyone I didn’t know. Now I’m much more confident.”
Her newly gained confidence and skills came in handy for the internship Williams landed with AT&T this summer. She worked with several executives learning about emerging technologies and gaining exposure to how business works.
“I want to become an OB/GYN and this internship made me think about the cross-over between technology and healthcare. I realized that I can help create technology that makes patients’ lives better and gives them better access to care,” Williams added.
The program has trained more than 1,500 students through a nationally recognized entrepreneurship curriculum from the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). YEGeorgia has been so successful that it recently launched publicly as a non-profit organization so it can expand its reach even further by accepting funding from organizations outside of Georgia-Pacific.
“The need to grow YEGeorgia represents the value it’s bringing to the community, and we want to prepare even more students to go out into the world and compete, be productive members of society and improve our communities,” added Ross.
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.