Appalachian Entrepreneurship Academy

In partnership with Appalachian State University, EntreEd, and STEM West, ARC’s Appalachian Entrepreneurship Academy (AEA) prepares the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders and thinkers. Chosen via a competitive application process, 26 high school students from across the Appalachian Region participate in experiential learning designed to cultivate creativity and develop essential entrepreneurial skills. While learning, students concurrently develop and implement their own business ideas, refine and prototype those ideas, and eventually deliver a shark-tank-style pitch presentation for an audience of entrepreneurs.

AEA students will spend two weeks, at no cost, residing on Appalachian State University’s campus and immersing themselves in the surrounding town of Boone, North Carolina. This unique location provides students with opportunities to celebrate local culture and diversity, and develop ideas to maintain and sustain these critical aspects of Appalachian communities. In addition to the work of developing their businesses, students will engage in recreational activities throughout the experience, including activities on-campus (including swimming, gaming, and playing sports) and in the region (including hiking, visiting local attractions, and attending arts and music performances).

About the Experience

Frequently Asked Questions

Interested in AEA but still have questions? We have the answers here!

Our Partners

ARC is excited to partner with Appalachian State University, EntreEd, and STEM West to prepare the next generation of the Region’s entrepreneurial leaders and thinkers.


AEA Teams Compete in Pitch Contest

12 high school students from across the Appalachian Region participated in a pitch competition as a part of the Appalachian Entrepreneurship Academy. The winning team – Team Refill Vibes – developed a business aimed at reducing single use plastics by making it easier to refill household cleaning liquids and personal products.