Young Entrepreneurs Society (YES) was founded in rural Orange, Massachusetts in 1998 by a community organizer, Tim Cohen-Mitchell, as a project of the Orange Revitalization Partnership. Orange (pop. 7,500) is among the 20 lowest income of the 351 towns in the Commonwealth. It is located in the heart of the isolated nine-town North Quabbin region that straddles Worcester and Franklin counties in the north-central and north-western part of the state. YES helped over 2,000 teens and young adults in these and 41 other towns in the North Quabbin, Franklin County, and Hampshire County region chart their own paths to prosperity through entrepreneurship, job readiness, and financial education.

To tackle high youth unemployment, YES created the Odd Job Squad in 1998 to help youth earn money, build skills, gain experience, and gather references by assisting community members with odd jobs. The Squad expanded to surrounding towns and helped Squads launch in other states and in the Bahamas using its database and organizer’s manual. 

YES developed BizVenture! in 1998 to help youth learn how to create their own jobs by launching businesses. With support from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), YES partnered with schools, organizations, business associations, and youth groups to offer BizVenture! programs across North Quabbin and Franklin County. YES teachers have won NFTE’s coveted Teacher of the Year Award and trained youth and teachers for NFTE in Boston, Iowa City, Kodiak, and Winnipeg.

In 2001, with support from the Public Service Endowment at UMASS, Amherst, YES developed its Co-op BizTeam program which provided BizVenture! alumni with 140 hours of social enterprise business planning activities. Their plan — for a cyber cafe and copy shop — edged out 25 others to win the 2002 National 4H Council/USDA Cooperative Business Plan Competition.

The BizTeam’s plan helped YES to acquire a CRA mortgage to purchase and renovate two adjoining blighted buildings in the historic downtown district of Orange in 2003. It launched the YES BizCenter and Teen Cyber Cafe in its new facility in 2004. The Cyber Cafe closed in 2010 having served its role as the region’s only public computer and high-speed Internet access venue during its critical “digital divide” years. The BizCenter, a full-time venture managed by YES members, provided paid and voluntary job training and work experience to area youth and served thousands of area customers annually until it closed in 2013.

In 2011, YES members launched PhilHarmonix Studio, full-service recording studio and rehearsal, on the ground floor of YES HQ after 5 years of fundraising and volunteer-powered construction. The studio closed in 2013.

YES has develops other programs as needs and funding arise. These have included GirlVenture! (BizVenture! expressly for girls); MoneySmart! (personal finance); TechVenture! (computer tech skills); YouthTube (digital resumes and stories); and Learn 2 Earn (job readiness); BLINQ.info (a regional web portal); TechACCESS and YES-U-Can! (to help youth with disabilities expand their livelihood horizons); ArtVenture! (helping teen musicians market their music); Tapestry Teens (a reproductive health infomercial and website); North Quabbin Young Leaders’ Council (teens organized to lead community revitalization efforts); QuabbinTeens.org (a regional web portal for teens), and the North Quabbin Time Bank (neighbors helping neighbors).

In 2007, YES received funding from the SBA develop a strategic plan for expanding BizVenture! and the Odd Job Squad. The findings were used by a YES committee representing business, education, municipal government, parents, and youth to reconfigure and expand the programs. The result was the launch in 2010 of the BizVenture! Series. This annual online and place-based calendar of activities, events, programs and contests helps over 2,500 youth annually explore entrepreneurship, invention and small business as career options. The Squad, meanwhile, was readied for an online self-serve launch.

YES facilitated over 50 projects and programs, serving over 2,000 youth. This is a partial list of programs, dates, locations, and facilitators.

NFTE BizTech™
2000-2006 | Tim, Jeff

BizVenture!
2013 (Series) | North Quabbin, Franklin County, Hampshire County | Tim, Jennie
2012 (Series) | North Quabbin & Franklin County | Tim, Colleen, Jennie
2011 BizKamp | Turners Falls & Orange | Tim
2011 (Series) | North Quabbin & Franklin County | Diana, Dave, Tim, Tyler, Rondale, Joshua
2010 (Series) | North Quabbin | Diana, Dave, Tim, Kenan
2009 | Orange | Tim
2009 | Orange | Tim
2008 | Orange-Greenfield | Jerry (YES ’99), Amber & Jeff
2007 | Orange | Jerry (YES ’99) & Tim
2007 | Greenfield | Jeff & Amber
2005 | Greenfield | Jeff & Amber
2005 | Orange | Dan (YES ’99)
2004 | Athol | Tim & Katie O. (YES ’04)
2004 | Orange | Dan (YES ’99), Jeff
2004 | Buckland | Vicky
2004 | Greenfield | Jeff
2004 | Turners Falls | Vicky
2003 | Charlemont | Vicky & Tim
2003 | Orange | Tim & Doug
2003 | Orange | Tim & Doug
2003 | Greenfield | Jeff
2002 | Orange | Carol
2002 | Greenfield | Jeff & Tim
2002 | Cummington/Buckland | Marge & Tim
2002 | Orange | Jerry (YES ’99) & Dan (YES ’99)
2002 | Turners Falls | Vanessa & Sheila P.
2002 | Turners Falls | Tim
2001 | Greenfield | Tim, Jeff & Jerry (YES ’99)
2001 | Kodiak, AK | Tim
2001 | Orange | Jerry (YES ’99) & Dan (YES ’99)
2000 | Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada | Tim
2000 | Orange | Tim, Jerry (YES ’99) & Dan (YES ’99)
2000 | Iowa City, IA | Tim
2000 | Turners Falls | Tim
1999 | Orange | Tim, Jerry (YES ’99) & Mary
1999 | Orange | Tim

BLINQ.info
2005-2009 | Orange | Dave (YES ’06), Pat, Tim

Co-op BizTeam
2002 | Orange | Matt, Melissa, Tim

Friendly Town Films
2005 | Orange | Charlie (YES ’05) & Tim

GirlVenture!
2003 | Turners Falls | Vicky
2002 | Turners Falls | Lisa D.
2001 | Orange (DNF) | Lisa C.

Great Job!
2001 | Orange | Jerry (YES ’99)

Learn-2-Earn
2009 | Orange | Amber
2009 | Orange | Amber
2008 | Orange | Amber
2008 | Orange | Amber
2008 | Orange | Amber

Mohawk Sporting/Dance Goods Swap Shop
2004-2005 | Buckland | Vicky

MoneySmart!
2009 | Orange | Tim
2009 | Orange | Tim
2009 | Orange | Tim
2008 | Orange | Tim
2005 | Athol | Tim
2004 | Orange | Tim
2003 | Northampton | Tim
2003 | Greenfield | Tim & Amber
2003 | Orange | Tim

North Quabbin TechACCESS
2007-2009 | Orange | Nate, Rayna, Alan (YES ’03), Pat, Tim

North Quabbin Time Bank
2006-2009 (fiscal sponsorship) | Orange | Ashley, Tim, Karen, Amber, Betsy, Sharon

North Quabbin Young Leaders Council
2008-2010 | Orange | Christine, Eric
2007 | Orange | Tracy

Odd Jobs Squad
1998-2013 | Orange | Amber, Alan (YES ’03), Tim
2007 | On-Line | Tim, Dave (YES ’06)
2004-2010 | Greenfield | Tobey, Nafeeza, Clara, Wilfredo, Martina @ Community Action! Youth Programs
2004-2010 | Turners Falls | Karen @ The Brick House

Phil Harmonix Studio
2010-2013 | Orange | Bobby (YES), Michael, Will
2009 | Orange | Michael, James, Tim, Liam
2004-2005 | Orange | Tim, Jerry (YES ’99), John W. (YES ’05)

QuabbinTeens.org
2009-2010 | Orange | Brittney (YES), Jen (YES), Tim, Patrick (YES)

Solar Bat
2004-2005 | Athol | Tim

Tapestry Teens
2006 | Orange | Dave (YES ’06), Eric (YES ’05), Tim
2005 | Orange | Jen, Deen, Matt, Dave (YES ’06)
2004 | Orange | Video PSA | Tim
2004 | Athol | Market Research | Tim

TechVenture!
2006 | Orange | Dave (YES ’06), Dan (YES ’99), Tim
2005 | Orange | Dave (YES ’06), Dan (YES ’99), Tim, Chris

Teen Cyber Cafe
2005-2010 | Orange | Pat, Dan (YES ’99), Tim

YES BizCenter
2013 | Orange | Jerry C. (YES ’00), Jerry (YES ’99), Tim, Katie (YES), LA
2012 | Orange | Katie (YES)
2011 | Orange | Kenan, Deven(YES), Tyler (YES), Jacqui (YES)
2010 | Orange | Kenan, Travis (YES), Christine
2008-2010 | Orange | Christine, Tom, Tim
2006-2007 | Pat, Matt, Ashley, Tim
2005 | Dan (YES ’99), Tim
2004 | Katie, Dan (YES ’99), Amber, Jeroth ( YES ’01), Samantha (YES ’04)

YES Ink
2010-2012 | Orange | Kenan, Charnara (YES), Tyler (YES)
2009 | Orange | Stephanie

YouthTube / BizTube
2009 | Orange| Amber
2009 | Orange| Amber
2008 | Orange| Will
2008 | Orange| Katie & Amber
2008 | Orange| Katie, Amber, Alyssa

Members
YES programs and activities served thousands of young people since inception in Massachusetts, Iowa, Alaska and Canada. Findings from over 500 BizVenture! pre- and post-program evaluations completed to date show that:

100% more than doubled their overall business knowledge
85% identified a special talent they can use to earn a living
91% feel they know enough to start their own business and make a profit
95% plan to go on for more education after high-school
15% are operating a business
60% are holding a job
90% remained in or completed high school
55% performed voluntary community service

Community
2003-present | renovation of 2 near-blighted downtown properties
2004-present | donations (copying) to area non-profits
2006 | Better Living in North Quabbin, a regional web portal
2006 | Tapestry Teens, a reproductive health website for Western MA youth
2005 | a teen reproductive health video PSA
2004 | teen reproductive health market research
2003 | Memorial Park, fall clean-up
2002 | hosted and assisted film crew of Bit My Pretty Red Heart in Two
2000-2003 | teen activities for Starry Starry Night (New Year’s Eve event)
2000 | youth-senior citizen forum on wheeled use of sidewalks
1999 | Putnam Hall, a 4-panel mural on Orange’s economic history

Awards & Recognition
2008 | Peter Winske Access Award: Stavros Center for Independent Living
2007 | Managing for Excellence Award: Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts (Tim Mitchell)
2006 | Life Changing Organization Award: Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts
2005 | Community Builder Award: Community Foundation of North-Central Massachusetts
2002 | winner, USDA/National 4-H Council Cooperative Youth Business Plan Competition (Blaise Barstow, Floris Fortier)
2001 | NFTE Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Justin Wilkinson)
2000 | honorable mention, NFTE Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Charles Pierson, III)
2000 | honorable mention, NFTE Certified Entrepreneurship Teacher of the Year (Jerry Whaland)
1999 | NFTE Certified Entrepreneurship Teacher of the Year (Tim Mitchell)

Case Studies
2007 | Our Common Wealth: Building a Future for Our Children and Youth, The Massachusetts Special Commission on After School and Out of School Time Report, Senator Thomas McGee and Representative Marie St. Fleur, Co-Chairs
2006 | CTCNet Connections for All

Policy Inclusion
2007 | Improving Federal Coordination of Disconnected Youth Services: A Policy Analysis for the Government Accountability Office, Center for Public Policy and Administration, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
2002-2006 | Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), Franklin Regional Council of Government
2005 | Pathways to Success by 21, Franklin-Hampshire Regional Employment Board
2004 | Northern Tier Initiative, John Olver (D-MA)
2004 | Pioneer Valley Plan for Progress, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission

Sharing Best Practices
2008 | Center for International Education 40th Anniversary Conference, Amherst, MA
2008 | Pioneer Valley Sustainable Investment Summit, South Hadley, MA
2008 | Youth Conference, Community Coalition for Teens, Orange, MA
2007 | Massachusetts Coalition for Adult Education, Marlborough, MA
2007 | Massachusetts Statewide Undergraduate Conference, Amherst, MA
2007 | Youth Conference, Community Coalition for Teens, Greenfield, MA
2006 | Community Technology Centers’ Network, Washington, DC
2006 | Rural Poverty Conference, Amherst, MA
2005 | Community Technology Centers’ Network, Cleveland, OH
2001 | Uppingham Seminar, Uppingham, UK
2000 | Rural Poverty Conference, Northfield, MA
2000 | Youth Conference, Community Coalition for Teens, Turners Falls, MA
1999 | Youth Conference, Community Coalition for Teens, Northfield, MA

Workshop Presentations
2005 | Building Sustainable Revenue Models, Community Technology Centers’ Network, Woburn, MA
2005| Youth Leadership Summit, Fitchburg, MA
2002 | Institute for Training & Development, Amherst, MA
1999| WorldBoston, Community Connections Program, Lowell, MA

Other Presentations
2005 | Creating Change: Leadership Matters, Leominster, MA
2000 | American Enterprise Organization, Lowell, MA

Teaching, Higher Education
1998 | Micro-Enterprise Development, New Hampshire College, Graduate School of Business, Manchester, NH

Site Visits by Practitioners and Policymakers
2003 | Russia
2001 | Ukraine
2000 | Kenya
1999 | Indonesia

Teacher Training & Support
Trained and certified 75 teachers and youth workers in Massachusetts and Canada in partnership with NFTE at
2001 | University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
2001 | Babson College, Wellesley, MA
2000 | Franklin County Community Development Corporation, Greenfield, MA
2000 | University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA