Yay for YEM! Ithaca’s Youth Entrepreneurship Market (YEM) returns to the Commons on June 26


ITHACA, NY –– Student vendors from New Roots Charter and other schools in the area will return to the Ithaca Youth Entrepreneurship Market (YEM) at the Commons and Ithaca Farmers Market this weekend. The market for handmade goods and services is the culmination of a five-week training program that teaches fourth to twelfth grade students the “nuts and bolts of a business start-up process”.

Over the course of the YEM training program, students complete a series of workshops on everything from generating ideas to developing business plans, budgeting, marketing, and financial literacy.

“In a year of social distancing and distance learning, we spotted over 30 students on five Saturday mornings for a two-hour zoom to learn about budgeting, business planning and financial literacy,” said Ethan Ash, co-founder of the program and an entrepreneur himself. “I’m just so inspired by these students and the passion they show at such a young age to create something and make a difference with their ideas and their energy. The best we can do as a community is show them our support and celebrate their hard work. So come to one of our markets, ask them questions, hear their stories and maybe even buy something to shape their day or their future. “

In addition to Ash, Michael Mazza, Director of Community Engagement at the New Roots Charter School, was instrumental in bringing the program to life. Both Ash and Mazza have also been supported by business leaders looking to share their experience and expertise with a younger generation.

This year’s speakers and coaches included Chris Kirby from Ithaca Hummus, Amanda David from Bramble, Dan Smalls from DSP Shows, Heather & Bruce Lane from Purity, Jason Goodman from Grabanzos, Elaan Greenfield from Metal Smithery, Gladys Brangman from Business Leaders of Colors, David Streib from New Roots Charter School, Dan Mazza from CarEase and Samantha Abrams from Emmy’s Organics. The students also heard from other young entrepreneurs in the community such as Aubryn Neubert from Prime Jewelry Co., Gavin Hoffman from GA Studios, and Isabella & Amila Mazza from Peach Me I’m Dreaming.

“The greatest reward for running this program is seeing the excitement young people get from hearing the stories of local business leaders,” said Ash. “We have all seen Ithaca hummus in our grocery stores, and our students hear from the founder that like our students, he sold in a local market. The light bulb is lit when the students see that the founders of Emmy’s Organics started baking cookies in their parents’ kitchen. These success stories are easy to relate to and we are delighted to be able to connect these inspiring speakers with the young people in our community. “

In 2021, Mazza and Ash said they focused the program on one topic of adaptation – in keeping with the ongoing evolution of COVID-19.

“One of the keys to success in life and in business is the ability to adapt,” said Mazza. “I was inspired by the many adjustment stories our students, business leaders, teachers, and communities at large throughout the pandemic have to say. So we wanted to connect the history of adaptation with entrepreneurship; convey the importance of adaptability to success in business and in life. ”

After the June 26th market on the Commons, vendors will move exclusively to the Ithaca Farmers Market at Steamboat Landing on the last Thursday of July, August and September.

“IFM is proud to host three youth markets at Steamboat Landing. We aspire to be a incubator for the local community and there is no better place to start than with our youth! These Thursday markets will be a great opportunity for all of us to come out and support local –– local children; local products, food and art; and local music. If that’s not typically Ithaca, what is it? ”Said Kelly Sauve, IFM Market Manager.

The markets are included for all young people in the region, regardless of their participation in the program. Youth entrepreneurs can reserve a point of sale for each of the four summer markets at www.yemithaca.com/youth-markets.