Youth About Business in The Tennessee Tribune

Earlier this month, Jason Luntz, Social Media Director at The Tennessee Tribune, stopped by our office in Nashville to learn more about Youth About Business and our upcoming events, including the student production of Beauty and The Beast. The show will be held from 2/10-2/14 at the Manna from Heaven Dinner House in Nashville.

Watch the full interview featuring Founder Sam Kirk, and our students, here:

SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Announces National Sponsorship of Youth About Business

ATLANTA – SunTrust Robinson Humphrey (STRH) is pleased to announce a national sponsorship of Youth About Business (YAB). Founded in 1992, YAB is a leadership-training program for youth in underserved communities that aims to introduce high school students to the world of business and finance. The program seeks to enable students to escape the cycle of “hopelessness” that occurs far too often in communities across America.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our financial professionals to mentor students, encourage them to think about a career in business or finance, and help them achieve the financial confidence to live a life well spent. Without an organization like Youth About Business, many underserved youth would miss the opportunity to gain invaluable experience that will help prepare them for their future professional careers,” said John Gregg, chairman & CEO of SunTrust Robinson Humphrey.

As a part of the onUp movement launched by SunTrust, STRH will leverage its national Corporate and Investment Banking presence to engage YAB students. Leading STRH’s efforts will be Erin Watson, managing director and head of strategy, who has been appointed to the YAB National Advisory Board. Watson has responsibility for overseeing the firm’s analyst, associate, and intern programs. In addition, STRH will provide support to YAB’s camps held throughout the year by serving as instructors and judges for competitions, as well as contributing toward scholarships for competing students.

“We are thrilled to have SunTrust Robinson Humphrey join in supporting our mission to expose youth across the country to the business world. Our experiential learning model has proven to help foster the development of business literacy and leadership skills that are necessary to be successful in school and in life. We are grateful to be able to continue our ongoing work due to the generous support of our partners like SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, and we are looking forward to continuing to cultivate our programs and reach even more at-risk youth,” added Sam Kirk, founder of Youth About Business.

YAB currently operates in Tennessee, New York, Illinois, Georgia and Texas, and will soon expand into the Western and Mid-Atlantic regions. Since the founding of YAB, more than 7,000 students have participated in one or more of its educational components. Students who participate in YAB’s programs boast a 98 percent high school graduation rate with many pursuing degrees at two- and four-year colleges, compared to a rate of 68 percent in some areas of the country.

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About SunTrust Robinson Humphrey
SunTrust Robinson Humphrey® is the trade name for the corporate and investment banking services of SunTrust Banks, Inc. and its subsidiaries. Securities and strategic advisory services are provided by SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., member FINRA and SIPC. │ SunTrust Robinson Humphrey has extensive experience working with public and private companies of all sizes – from emerging growth to the Fortune 500. SunTrust Robinson Humphrey offers a complete array of solutions for companies across all industries while providing in-depth industry expertise and dedicated corporate and investment banking practices for certain core sectors, including business services, financial sponsors, building products, healthcare, consumer and retail, media and communications, energy, transportation, financial services and technology, and real estate. SunTrust Robinson Humphrey’s internet address is

About Youth About Business
Youth About Business is a leadership-training program for youth in underserved communities that aims to introduce high school students to the world of business and finance. Founded in 1992 as a project of Creating an Environment of Success (CES), a Tennessee based 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation, YAB offers multiple programs that provide entrepreneurial and leadership training to high school students in Chicago, Houston, Memphis, Nashville, and New York. Additional information about YAB can be found at or at

The Huffington Post: An Open Letter to Secretary of Education John King, Jr.

At Youth About Business, we recognize that investing in our young people is investing in the sustainability of our economy. We must provide a scalable solution so that the thousands of youth in our public schools in our nation’s largest school districts understand the value of collaboration and support.

To accomplish this, our Founder and Executive Director Sam Kirk has requested a meeting with Secretary of Education John King, Jr. to discuss the value of public-private collaboration, and his goals as Secretary of Education. Read Sam Kirk’s open letter to Mr. King on The Huffington Post.

2015 YAB Winner’s Announcement

Youth About Business (YAB) is proud to announce the winners of their 2015 Championship Summer Business Camp. In a mock merger and acquisition deal with three potential outcomes, the winning team of students, representing Tesla, a well-known American motor manufacturer, was awarded for their comprehensive business proposal. They presented a strategy to determine which bidder would create the best value for their shareholders in a potential acquisition of their company.  The bidders were Nissan and Apple.  The winning students listed below received stock in a publicly traded company.

2015 Championship Camp.jpg

YAB hosts summer business camps in three core markets throughout the country – Nashville, Chicago, Atlanta and New York City. The winner of each region then moves on to participate in the Championship Camp. This year’s Championship Camp was hosted at Columbia University with the presentations taking place at the Sony US headquarters in New York City.

Anthony Jones + Sam Kirk.jpg

Throughout the weeklong camp, students were advised by attorneys, accountants, investment bankers and many other executives to understand the mechanics of M&A business transactions. Each student was assigned a role on the representative company’s executive team, including CEO, COO, CFO, CMO and CHRO, throughout the week to create a true immersion experience. After meticulous calculations of public company records, research and strategic forward thinking, the students were challenged to present their business plan to a panel of judges.

Bonnie Fan, Kirk, Vyshnavi.jpg

The winning team members include:

  • Vyshnavi Parthipan, Stuyvesant High School, New York
  • Bonnie Fan, Stuyvesant High School, New York
  • Crystal Rodriguez, Discovery High School, New York
  • Anthony Jones, Donelson Christian Academy, Nashville


Meet the winning team below:

Vyshnavi Parthipan
Eleventh grade Stuyvesant High School student Vyshnavi Parthipan participated in the 2015 Championship Summer Business Camp and found herself on the winning team. Incredibly focused, she is also talented writer who was determined to do her best to help her team of peers.

Bonnie Fan
Bonnie, an aspiring architect, used her critical thinking to help her team become the 2015 Summer Business Camp Champion. Highly motivated, Bonnie faced every challenge during camp with a positive attitude and was a problem solver every step of the way.

Crystal Rodriguez
Crystal Rodriguez, from Discovery High School, located in the Bronx had an interest in business and decided to attend this year’s Championship Summer Business Camp. Her natural curiosity and continuous drive for success made her an asset to this year’s winning squad.

Anthony Jones
Anthony Jones, a freshman at Donelson Christian Academy in Nashville, TN was part of this year’s 2015 Championship Summer Business Camp winning team. With a career interest in business, Jones was instrumental in helping his team to think outside the box. Besides his interest in business, Jones enjoys art.

The Huffington Post: How Business Leaders Can Engage Young People and Help Them Rise Above Their Circumstances

Is America’s current educational delivery system producing the desired results for business and industry today? Despite instant access to infinite information thanks to modern advances in technology, many of today’s students are bored of the traditional classroom setting. Check out Sam Kirk’s full article about education as a viable alternative to getting into trouble on The Huffington Post.

National Reporting Metrics 2014

Greetings from Youth About Business Headquarters!

We are excited to have had another tremendously successful summer. Youth About Business (YAB) saw nearly 600 students go through our Leadership Development Program, through our Summer Business Camps, training centers, and year-round programming where students build upon their Summer Business Camp training.

YAB would like to thank the 500+ volunteers that gave their time and/or resources to help us have such a successful year. From advising students on how to research their due diligence to hosting our students for career luncheons, our executive volunteers had a major impact on our students.

Before we release our year-end report, this brief report is being distributed to key stakeholders. The metrics included in this report help depict the backgrounds from which our students come, as well as some of the outcomes. YAB is focused on helping youth from underserved communities, but we have students from many different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. As we continue to grow as an organization, we will continue to expand our metrics.

For over 22 years, Youth About Business has been greatly impacting the lives of our youth across the country. Our unique, experiential model continue to improve our youth’s outlook on their own futures, with 98% of our students going on to graduate high school and over 90% attend four-year universities.

Our students have tremendous belief that be successful in their careers and by looking at our alumni in industry, we have no doubt that they will be! We are grateful to all supporters, from individuals to foundations to corporate partners and sponsors, for all the time and resources contributed. We will continue working hard to prepare tomorrow’s leaders today!

Please read pdf to learn more 

Excellence is the Standard,
Samuel E. Kirk
Founder & Executive Director, Youth About Business

Youth About Business: A Parent’s Perspective

Mr. Sam Kirk, I would like to thank you and the Youth About Business staff for identifying the South East Region, Atlanta in particular to host your Youth About Business Summer Camp. Upon learning about the YAB program and its offerings; I was in disbelief. Having high school students do business mergers and acquisitions did not seem logical or believable at the time. Much to my surprise, the week-long camp held at Emory University last week here in Atlanta, Georgia was phenomenal and proved me wrong on all accounts. I had two students attend and the exposure that they received cannot be matched.

YAB along with committed business men and women worked to make the camp experience a success for the students. King & Spalding a world renowned law firm, Nissan, and Sun Trust executives were just few of those who committed their time and service to the camp as sponsors and host. The students were exposed to researching and analyzing large companies, financial terminology, and proper executive etiquette. In addition, students were challenged to think critically, while taking on the roles of executives, i.e., CEO, COO, CRO, CLO, CITO, CMO, CLO, and CHRO (How many of these do you know?) as they planned and carried out mock mergers and acquisitions.

The culminating activity, a competition was very telling, allowing the student to apply the knowledge and skills gained during the week as they were judged by lawyers and executives. Did I mention the students who participated will have an opportunity to visit and learn about Wall Street for a whole week? What an experience! According to my students, “While the studies were rigorous, long hours and late nights, we still had time for making friends with students from other SE regions like Mississippi and Tennessee. In addition, we learned things we had never imagined.” “It was well worth the challenge.”

What I appreciate most about Mr. Kirk and Youth About Business is every student with a desire to participate was given that opportunity. Unlike most other academic camps where students are at a disadvantage due to academic performance, Youth About Business accepts students from all walks of life and cultures who are teachable and willing to learn. I encourage parents to check out YAB and give your student the experience of a life time. Thank you Mr. Kirk & Youth About Business!

Gloria Simmons
Atlanta Youth About Business Parent

Youth About Business: A Student’s Perspective

If someone had come up to me a week ago and said that I’d be going to a camp where phrases like “mergers and acquisitions” or “EBITDA and capital structure” were as commonly said as “I love you”, I’d call them crazy. If they had told me that I’d have to spend hours looking at financial reports and negotiating deals for the combining of two companies, I’d have slowly but surely backed warily away from them. And if that same person told me that I’d be taking on the role of CEO for a week, I’d probably direct them to a psychologist, just because I felt bad for them.

But today, I dare you to ask me about “EBITDA and capital structure” and I beg of you to give me another company to run because after a week at the Youth About Business camp, I know more about business and industry than I ever would have on my own. Considering I didn’t necessarily like business coming into this camp and how I feel leaving it, just proves how influential the program is on a teenager’s life. Even though I may never have a career in the business industry, I still came out of the camp feeling stronger and more confident about business. I know that with any career I decide to pursue, I will have an advantage simply because I know a little somethin’-somethin’ about mergers and acquisitions. Simply because I know somethin’ about business.

Like me, a teenager at this camp not only learns business terms and processes, but also life skills like time management and leadership. Most high school students don’t have access to much detailed information about the business industry. This camp provides students who would otherwise miss out on this learning opportunity with a rigorous week-long course that opens them up to a whole new world of possible careers they might never have known they liked. From dinners with CEOs and private meetings with lawyers, Youth About Business does it all and I say that any teenager lucky enough to be a part of this program is already one step closer to their dreams.

Sydney M. Laws
Youth About Business Summer Camp CEO
Emory University

Is the Public Education System Properly Preparing Diversity Youth for the Corporate Workplace?

America’s promise is slowly slipping away from today’s youth, particularly diversity youth and those from underserved and diverse backgrounds.

“In mathematics, 29 nations and other jurisdictions outperformed the United States by a statistically significant margin, up from 23 three years ago,” reports Education Week. “In science, 22 education systems scored above the U.S. average, up from 18 in 2009.”

At some point, the private sector must begin to demand better outcomes from our public schools.   Our public education system is producing our future workforce and we must demand that our students are being trained with relevant skills to compete with students across the globe.

Youth About Business is committed to creating a prepared workforce for the 21st century.  As I mentioned to the parents of the thousands of students that have been through Youth About Business, your children are no longer competing with their classmates  and peers for opportunities.  The global nature of our economy has changed everything and we must prepare our students with the skills to compete against talented students from across the world.

Youth About Business addresses the areas where American students are lacking.

Forcing students to solve real life problems at a young age helps them to gradually amass the skills they need to become leaders in their respective fields.  To this point, Youth About Business has created a number of business simulations that expose students to extremely difficult business problems.

One simulation in particular is an exercise where students are placed in small teams and challenged to acquire a billion dollar company.    Students are discouraged from pre-work so that they all start on a level playing field.  We then provide them with resources to solve their problem of protecting shareholder value while making a successful transaction.  We bring in teams of industry executives from the fields of accounting, legal, banking, and marketing to work directly with each team on their transaction.  We also invite IT and HR executives for the students to gain insight into how these areas also factor into their deals.  For many of our students, they have never experienced anything like this before.

It is challenging, fun, and educational.   Moreover, we have found that 80% of the students improve their academic performance once they return to the classroom.  Students also realize that they limit their futures by ignoring any deficiencies they discovered during our programming.  Parents and educators alike tell me that their children go back to school focused, determined to achieve greater results, and dreaming differently about a brighter future for their lives.  The program helps them understand that the competition is greater than they imagined and, because of that, they realize that a  successful career depends on having a very strong work ethic.

This desire to learn and explore is what is missing in our educational system today.  I believe that all students need a firm traditional educational base to be successful, however, the additional exposure to business and finance created through an experiential learning model produces a better outcome and a more business literate workforce for our private sector.

Students in underserved areas also face a greater challenge since there are fewer models of success and fewer educational tools that stimulate their intellectual curiosity.  Thus our nation ends up with higher crime rates and lower educational outcomes.  Youth About Business believes that there is creative genius in all students and if we put them in proper environments that cultivate their reasoning and critical thinking skills, we will see improved outcomes. What we have found is that once they solve their first problem, they build confidence, and welcome the next problem and its increased complexity.  It becomes a mindset and virtuous cycle.

To wrap, I think the world is becoming more competitive in a number of ways.  Public schools, as they are, are not keeping pace with the demands of the private sector.  This will certainly be an obstacle for diverse candidates as they try to market their skills to future employers.  I believe Youth About Business and programs like ours are addressing this gap and helping push the envelope for student development to help make America’s promise to our youth whole again.

Follow us as we get feedback from Educators, Executives, parents, current students and YAB Alum concerning how the Youth About Business experience uniquely prepares them to succeed in the global workforce!