Saunders Scholars National Competition LogoLast week, over 100 semifinalists from all corners of the country competed in Rochester, NY in hopes of being chosen by the judges to advance to America’s Small Business Summit as a 2016 YEA! Saunders Scholars Finalist. Here are this year’s Saunders Scholars Finalists:

From the Northeast Region, Ashley Hurton is a student in the YEA! Peabody, Massachusetts Chamber class. Her business, HappiWear, produces athletic clothing while promoting positive physical and mental health. HappiWear donates 15% of all profits to the Brain & Behavior Research foundation, an organization which funds research for a variety of mental disorders.

From the Northwest Region, Maxx Stewart from the YEA! Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber class in Washington is the CEO of Spyder Grypz, an innovative replacement to traditional lacrosse tape. Spyder Grypz is a one piece rubber grip sleeve that shrinks on to a lacrosse shaft when heat is applied, enhancing the lacrosse player’s grip and control of the ball.

Also from the Northwest Region, Laney Hughes is the CEO of Shallocat, an apparel company that produces a variety of one-of-a-kind items and accessories that are based off Laney’s original designs. Laney is a student in the YEA! Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce class in Wisconsin.

From the Southeast Region, Ethan Shapiro and Ryan Shnider are the Co-Presidents of Snap’d In, a fully customizable and updatable phone case that will revolutionize the phone case market. Their phone cases feature six interchangeable picture “pegs” that allow the user to switch out photos. The two are students in the YEA! Central Palm Beach Chamber class in Florida.

From the Southwest Region, Arya Desai, Meenu Pamula, and Mizna Akbar are the creators of Muzikguru, a free online resource that helps parents find the perfect music teacher for their children. The website features a detailed database with information about music teachers including cost, location, and years of experience. The three are students in the YEA! Clovis, California Chamber of Commerce class.

The runners-up from each region had the chance to give their pitch for a second time at the YEA! Celebration and Awards dinner. The audience was able to vote on which two out of the four businesses should advance to the Finals competition as the People’s Choice Award Winners:

Cyanne McClean is the CEO of Africa Smiles, a company that works to improve literacy for children. Africa Smiles earns revenue through selling fashionable bracelets, and then all of the proceeds go towards buying books for students in Tanzania. Cyanne is a Saunders Scholars Semifinalist from the YEA! Miramar Pembroke Pines Chamber class in Florida.

Emily Guertler’s business, StraightShot Apparel, produces pants designed specifically for people with diabetes. Emily is a Saunders Scholars Semifinalist from the YEA! Sandy, Utah Area Chamber class.

All seven groups will present their business plans one last time at America’s Small Business Summit in Washington, DC next month. The winner will be named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneur, and receive a prize package including a college scholarship, as well as media attention on a national level! To register for America’s Small Business Summit, click here.

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