Young Entrepreneurs Society (1.0) was founded in rural Orange, MA (pop. 7,500) in 1998. Orange is at the heart of the North Quabbin region whose nine towns are among the poorest and most isolated in the state. After teens there identified the lack of jobs—and transportation to jobs—as their most pressing problem, YES created the Odd Job Squad to help them earn money and gain work and business experience by doing odd jobs for residents and businesses. YES helped partner organizations host Squads in other towns and beyond, including the Bahamas, using software and and an organizer’s manual licensed from YES.

To help youth develop and launch other businesses, YES created BizVenture!, a 54-hour entrepreneurship class and partnered with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) to train and certify teachers to deliver its curricula in school, after school, and during the summer at locations across the 27 towns of Franklin County. Venture! variants and other programs included GirlVenture! (for girls only); TechVenture! (how to build and sell computers); ArtVenture! (how to market music); BizQuiz (an annual online business knowledge contest); Learn2Earn (a job readiness class); MoneySmart! (a personal finance class); and YES-U-Can! (an all-in-one class for youth with disabilities).  

YES created an 140-hour social enterprise training program, the Co-op BizTeam, to give Venture! alumni hands-on experience, The BizTeam’s business plan—for a cyber cafe and copy/fax/UPS-FedEx shop—won first prize and $2,000 in a National 4H Council/USDA Cooperative Business Plan Competition. Their plan also helped YES get a $75,000 mortgage to purchase and renovate two blighted historic district buildings, where a year later both the Teen Cyber Cafe and YES BizCenter opened their doors to the public. 

Other social ventures followed, some successful, most short-lived: PhilHarmonix (a full-service recording studio and rehearsal space), BLINQ.info (a regional web portal); Tapestry Teens (a reproductive health infomercial and website); North Quabbin Young Leaders’ Council (a teen-led leadership group that tackled issues affecting local youth); QuabbinTeens (a teen web portal); TechACCESS (a web portal for people with disabilities); YouthTube (to help teens learn digital storytelling skills to profile area business owners); and the North Quabbin Time Bank (neighbors who helped neighbors with odd jobs using time as a currency).

From 2010 to 2013, with a major grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration, YES and its partners developed, piloted, and ran an annual BizVenture! Series, a calendar of hybrid entrepreneurship activities, classes, and contests for youth across 50 towns across, two counties, and 1,270 square miles.

YES 1.0 disbanded in late 2013 after a 15-year run.


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