University of Rochester

Local 14-Year-Old Social Entrepreneur's Story Featured in Success Magazine

September 25, 2008

YEA! Student Gains National Recognition

Ani Patel, a 14-year-old freshman at Mendon High School, is spotlighted in the November issue of Success magazine for his efforts to bring English lessons to students in a rural district in Southwestern India. The issue of this widely read publication, which focuses on five key areas for achieving success: business, relationships, wealth, well-being and making a difference, is currently available on store shelves nationwide.

Ani, the founder of a social movement called Intel 4 India, came up with the concept while participating in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, or YEA!, at the University of Rochester, a nine-month program that teaches middle and high school students how to start and run their own real business. His company uses video conferencing to teach English to 8th, 9th and 10th grade students in the district of Bagalkot, India. Currently, there are more than 100 students participating in his program, designed to provide students with the basic language skills they need to apply to college.

Born in the United States to parents of Indian descent, Ani visits their homeland every summer where he has seen firsthand the difference in the educational opportunities available for someone his age. "I was just really happy when I just found how I can help people and do the right thing for me," says Ani, who with the help of the YEA! program took his concept from an idea to a reality. YEA! helped Ani create the business plan for his idea and provided an opportunity for him to compete for funding. The YEA! program introduced Ani to local business leaders and professionals willing to help. Ani used the tools and skills acquired through the YEA! program to speak to government and business leaders, both locally and overseas, and launch his initiative. He hired a teacher living in the city of Bangalore who is teaching the lessons via web cam. Homework is faxed back and forth with the help of a teaching assistant.

"We are very proud of him and also very fortunate to have a program like YEA! in our community," says Nikhil Patel, Ani's father, a radiologist at the University of Rochester's medical school. He encouraged his son to apply for the YEA! program last year, while he was in 8th grade at Barker Road Middle School.

"Young people with drive, passion and creativity can accomplish anything they set their minds to. YEA! just helps them to see this," says founder and CEO of YEA!, Gayle Jagel. The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) was created in 2004 by Jagel, Director of the University of Rochester's Office of Special Programs (OSP) with financial support from the Kauffman Foundation. The Kauffman Foundation made a university-wide grant to the University of Rochester to embed entrepreneurial components into educational curricula at each of the student levels addressed at the University, including, in the case of OSP, the target demographic of middle and high school students.

Ani is one of the two people in Success' November issue recognized for making a difference in the world. The other is Dara Torres, the oldest member of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team who captured three silver medals in the 2008 Bejing Olympic Games.

About YEA!
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a groundbreaking nine-month program that guides students in grades 6-12 through the process of starting a real business, including business plan development, pitching an investor panel, obtaining funding, launching the venture, managing media campaigns, e-commerce and web development, sales events, and trade shows. The end result of the YEA! program, unlike other simulation models, is a fully formed and functioning business, which is carried on by students after graduation. Students, ages 12 to 17, are taught to recognize the power of their ideas, and to develop the skills necessary to turn those ideas into meaningful enterprises. All of the learning at the Young Entrepreneurs Academy is real, experiential, and fun. The program is offered in New York State at the University of Rochester with the support of a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and at the State University of New York at Geneseo with support from the Finger Lakes WIRED initiative, at Niagara University, and at the Greece Central School District. For more information about the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, please call 585.275.6902 or visit