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Yocoyani Montiel, Nani Reina, Aaron Rivers, and Brittany Aldaco present their small business idea to have a small cab company in the Community to the three judges during their business proposal presentations.

Y.E.S. Academy Educates Youth on Entrepreneurship

By Tasha Silverhorn
Au-Authm Action News

This year’s Youth Entrepreneurship Summer (Y.E.S.) Academy recruited 22 Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community youth ages 14 to 17 to participate in a week of events July 17-21 at Northern Arizona University. The camp gave these students a small taste of college life as they engaged in creating the foundation for a successful business.

The Y.E.S. Academy is a program of the Salt River Financial Services Institution (SRFSI), in partnership with the Center for American Indian Economic Development at NAU’s W.A. Franke College of Business. The youth who attend the academy learn about starting and running a successful business. They also experience college life, staying in the dorm rooms of NAU students and seeing what the campus has to offer.

This year the Y.E.S. Academy students earned transferable college credit through Scottsdale Community College. The curriculum for the Y.E.S. Academy is aligned with a business class at SCC.

Community small-business owners Virginia Loring, president and owner of Pimara Construction, and David Dallas, president and owner of Dallas Professional Painting, made a trip to NAU to be guest speakers and share their experience of becoming small-business owners.

To show what they learned about starting a business, the six teams created business plans, which were presented before three judges and the students’ families during a Business Plan Showcase on the last day of camp. The students could create a company based on whatever product or service they were interested in; the businesses included a recording studio, a 24-hour laundry, a traditional clothing and apparel store, a taxi company and a beauty salon.

New this year was the addition of a competitive component; the panel of judges voted and a cash prize was awarded for the best business plan. The judges were SRFSI Acting Executive Director Lisa Deer, SRFSI Board Member Barbara Boone, and Salt River Materials Group President/CEO Roger Smith. They offered professional advice to the students, explaining important areas and aspects of their proposals that needed improvement. They also commended them on their ideas and creativity.

The winning business plan was called “This Beat,” a Traditional Clothing and Jewelry Store. The group also proposed to offer sewing and beading classes as part of their service. The winning group consisted of Kaily Toney, Marisa Quiroz and Ahmira Howard. Their group leader (counselor) was Zach Yazzie. The academy ended with a dinner for the students and their families and a certificate presentation to all the participants.

Y.E.S. Academy Participants
Juan Acosta, Brittany Aldaco, Saleen Chantasingh, Shaudiin Easchief, Ahmira Howard, Korin Jones, Alaza Loring, Marissa Marrufo, Yocoyani Montiel, Marisa Quiroz, Trinidad Quiroz, Bruin Reina, Nani Reina, Aaron Rivers, Alia Shaw, Robert Thomas, Kailey Toney, Kenneth Toya, Donielle Webster, Monica Webster, Alexis Whitman and Courtney Wood.

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