Santa Monica High School students Mason Ardiit, Olivia Pirrone, and Justin Green aspire to empower young individuals from diverse backgrounds to tap into their entrepreneurial potential and ultimately, break the cycle of generational poverty.
In 2021, the students initiated a business club at their high school, attracting students with their “Teen Tank” event. Their club rapidly flourished, quickly becoming the school’s largest with more than 100 active members. Students were excited to gain knowledge and nurture their entrepreneurial spirits.
Recognizing the glaring need for accessible financial education, Mason, Olivia, Justin, and Alex Green co-founded the Youth Entrepreneurship Association (YEA) as a nonprofit organization dedicated to bridging the educational gap.
In their debut summer as a nonprofit, they launched the Entrepreneurship Program in partnership with local youth organizations. This initiative spanned three locations, offering underprivileged youth insights into starting businesses. The program’s climax was a Shark Tank-style pitch competition, awarding $500 in seed funding to the most innovative students.
YEA’s impact continued to grow, extending its reach to five locations, from Mar Vista to San Francisco. To date, the organization has incubated 15 student-run businesses, amassing over $10,000 in combined revenue.
Looking ahead, the trio envisions a future where they create the ultimate community for young entrepreneurs and establish a venture capital firm devoted to their demographic. Their journey is a testament to the transformative power of youth-driven initiatives. Mason, Olivia, and Justin are not just shaping 2023; they are forging a path for countless generations of young entrepreneurs, illustrating that age is no barrier to catalyzing change and inspiring others.