YEA for Oregonians Credit Union; Youth to get Help Starting Businesses

An after-school program transforming middle and high school students into real-life entrepreneurs has planted roots in Oregon.

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) was launched jointly last week by Oregonians Credit Union and the Beaverton Chamber of Commerce. More than 100 local business owners and managers attended the kick off and some have already joined Oregonians in pledging to support the program.

Founded in 2004 at the University of Rochester, the academy currently impacts over 90 communities in 17 states. YEA targets sixth graders through high school seniors, giving them the opportunity to network and develop relationships with local business leaders, create jobs and launch their own legitimate businesses. Over 500 such businesses have been launched.

The Oregonians-Beaverton Chamber launch brings the program to Oregon for the first time, and Oregonians is believed to be the only credit union in the country leading a sponsorship role.

It’s not a stretch for Oregonians, given the success the credit union has already had with a similar program at Reynolds High School and the Center for Advanced Learning (CAL). That program has helped many student interns prepare for real world jobs, according to Oregonians CEO Chuck Garner.

“We think it’s important to teach young people about business and credit,” Garner said at last week’s launch party, hosted in the credit union’s Beaverton branch. “We are clearly excited about it.”

Kian Haddad, a junior at Southridge High School in Beaverton, endorsed YEA’s local launch and confirmed he may apply. “When my mom first told me about the program it seemed too good to be true,” he said. He noted layoffs and the tough economy in recent years have limited opportunities for high school students in the community. “It could give us the start we need. We are the future of Beaverton. We are the people who will be running businesses.”


Questions? Contact Lynn Heider: 503.350.2225,

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