Young Entrepreneurs to be Honored at America’s Small Business Summit 2016

June 10, 2016


Student CEOs of Seven Companies to Compete for College Scholarships, Other Prizes

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation will host the seven regional champions from the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) National Saunders Scholarship Competition at the Chamber’s America’s Small Business Summit to pitch their business ideas and compete for college scholarships and business prize packages.

The regional champions were selected out of more than 2,000 middle and high school students nationwide who took part in YEA!’s 30-week entrepreneurship class of 2016. In the Academy, the young entrepreneurs generated business ideas, conducted market research, wrote business plans, pitched to a panel of investors, and launched their own legally-registered companies.

The national finalists who will appear at America’s Small Business Summit include: Cyanne McLean, Africa Smiles; Laney Hughes, Shallocat; Ethan Shapiro and Ryan Shnider, Snap’d In; Emily Guertler, StraightShot Apparel; Ashley Hurton, HappiWear; Mizna Akbar, Arya Desai, and Meenu Pamula, Muzikguru; and Maxx Stewart, Spyder Grypz.

The national finalists will be evaluated by a panel of judges representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Sam’s Club, Sweetwater Energy, Enterprising Women, Social Tables, Yelp, DECA and SCORE. Kayla Abramowitz, Chief Kid Officer of Kayla Cares 4 Kids and last year’s YEA! Saunders Scholarship winner, will also be a judge.

The regional champions received support from local chambers of commerce in six states including California, Florida, Massachusetts, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The students attending the Chamber’s annual event will have access to more than 700 small business owners from across the country who can share management advice, policy insights, and strategies to grow their business.

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is proud to support the efforts of these young entrepreneurs, who represent the next generation of American business,” said Carolyn Cawley, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “We are impressed by the hard work, creativity, and ingenuity of the students who participated in this year’s YEA! program, and look forward to seeing them pitch their ideas at America’s Small Business Summit.”

The national pitch competition will take place from 12:00 p.m. to 1:35 p.m. on June 13, 2016, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. The competition is open to the public, and tickets are available online.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and YEA! received a $250,000 donation from Sam's Club, a leading membership club serving the small business community since 1983, to further expand the program. For more information, visit

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a 501(c)(3) offering groundbreaking year-long classes that teach middle and high school students how to start and run their own real businesses. Throughout the class, students develop business ideas, write business plans, conduct market research, pitch their plans to a panel of investors, and launch and run their own real, fully formed companies and social movements. The project-based program includes legendary guest speakers from the local business community and behind-the-scenes trips to local companies and empowers students to take charge of their futures.

Founded in 2004 at the University of Rochester with support from the Kauffman Foundation, the Young Entrepreneurs Academy today serves thousands of students nationwide. In 2011, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation became a national sponsor and partner of the Academy to help 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. YEA! is made possible by The Kauffman Foundation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Saunders Foundation.

Sam’s Club®, a division of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., is a leading membership warehouse club offering savings and services to millions of members in 651 clubs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Sam’s Club offers affordable access to innovative services for families and small business owners, including travel, payroll and HR services, online marketing, legal solutions, cash rewards and more. To learn more about saving time and money with Sam's Club, visit

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness. We educate the public on the conditions necessary for business and communities to thrive, how business positively impacts communities, and emerging issues and creative solutions that will shape the future.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.