The Youth Enterprise Academy, a program of the Hammond Development Corporation, fosters young entrepreneurs through real entrepreneurial experiences for kids ranging from middle school to high school age. The students collaborate on real entrepreneurial projects that enable them to earn money as student businesses. They gain professional management experience by operating their business in all areas of budget, production, product design, and marketing. The YEA meets monthly on Saturday but also extends its business operations to student internships.
There are several objectives of this program that benefit both the participants and community:
• Students will grow in leadership, communication, and entrepreneurship skills.
• The students will produce a product that is marketable and will be able to be reproduced.
• There will be a new understanding of light manufacturing for students and interns relating to the product development and marketability.
• A strong mentorship program will be implemented utilizing community business resources (primarily HUB tenants) and university interns.
The first product of the YEA was a 2014 calendar which brought income to their business through ads purchased by local organizations. After the HDC received grant funding for student programs and the purchase of 3D printers, the students are now creating chess sets which they are marketing and selling within the community.
The YEA is in the midst of being re-located from the Hammond INnovation Center to the newly formed HUB of INnovation. Sue Anderson, of the HUB, said it "better fits with what's going on" at the new building.
As part of the overall HUB plan we have begun the student internship program. These high school students and their activities interlink with the YEA youth enterprise and several interns are also members of this student business.
Because the Hammond Development Corporation which is the parent of the HUB, HIC, Towle Theater and the manager of the Hammond Urban Enterprise Association we are able to combine the UEA Internship Program with the YEA youth enterprise. This has allowed us to extend internship opportunities to high school juniors and seniors along with college students from the Hammond Community. These students are given these opportunities through Hammond businesses and HUB/HIC tenants who work with them to improve their skills in their area of interest.