In the late eighties the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business was an education-based island located within a larger community. According to the school's dean at that time, Ray Miles, both the school and the community knew very little about each other. And Miles was determined to change this condition. "We set out to bring kids from the surrounding community in contact with our students." says Miles, Professor Emeritus at Haas and YEAH's founder. Currently YEAH is serving over 120 local youth per year.
Now 25 years later YEAH's curriculum continues the tradition started by Ray Miles and his staff-enrolling kids, who predominantly come from families that traditionally have not gone to college-in programs that help them gain confidence as they feel more comfortable on campus. "Then as now," says Miles, "an overwhelming majority of these students who get acquainted with the concepts of entrepreneurship at YEAH, eventually go to college."
Being located within a world-class business school we readily recognize opportunities and successful tools that we share with our community's youth. And we are finding that the YEAH program is providing even more benefits than we first anticipated. It's thrilling and surprising to see how well our UC Berkeley students like our programs too, Miles says. Initially only our MBA students were involved as mentors. Now our undergrad students want to be involved too. Additionally, we are at the point, a twenty plus years later, where we are building an alumni base that wants to give back. That's great news for the YEAH tradition that continues to excite, educate and support deserving youth.
Dean Richard Lyons, a graduate of Cal and Haas' undergraduate business program, came back to Cal and Haas from MIT, joined the faculty as a professor of finance in 1993 and immediately got involved in YEAH as a faculty advisor. He left Haas to become chief learning officer at Goldman Sachs and came back as dean in July 2008. His strategic vision for Haas is summarized in the newly codified defining principles stating the school will develop, "people who question the status quo, project confidence without attitude, learn as students always, and think beyond themselves. It is this final principle-Beyond Yourself-where the Center for Young Entrepreneurs at Haas fits operationally in the Dean Lyons' strategic plan. Lyons says of the YEAH mentors that, "they are getting a very, very tangible opportunity to contribute and serve something larger, and obviously the potential impact of mentoring and developing young people in this way is immense."
Haas alumnus and longtime Berkeley booster David Eckles, MBA 73, has given $1 million to the Haas School to expand its successful mentoring program for under-resourced youth through several new initiatives to be coordinated by the Undergraduate Program.