Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 1.23.18 PM.png

Entrepreneur Academy Application


The DSACF is excited to be starting the second cohort of the National Down Syndrome Entrepreneur Academy. This program is intended for teens and adults with Down syndrome who are interested learning how to start their own businesses and implementing what they learn to start a business during the program.

 The program will begin with a 6 week once a week evening class. In this Entrepreneur Bootcamp, experts in the field will review various topics ranging from brainstorming the idea, to evaluating the market, to advertising to your market, to actually producing and selling a product. To best empower the self-advocate participants’ support participant (sidekick) will be required to attend sessions during the 6 week boot camp, either concurrently or in the same session. They will have homework and planning worksheets that are designed to be completed together.  The sidekick can be a parent, another relative, a friend, or another trusted partner that makes a commitment to complete the program with the participant.

Following the boot camp, participants will have monthly sessions with additional business topics including topics not covered in the boot camp and other important soft skills like: elevator speeches, presentations, dressing the part, sales meetings, expanding social media and marketing, and more.  These MONTHLY presentations will meet for 9 months to also check in regarding their business venture and get valuable feedback. Participants are expected to attend all sessions throughout the year. Excused absences are accepted with advanced notice.

The 9-month program will conclude with an Entrepreneur Showcase that we will invite elected officials, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and business executives to hear the presentations. The winner will receive an award and we will invite attendees to meet further with participants to consider business investments.  *Please note that presentations are not required.

Siblings welcome and encouraged to attend any sessions. If a sibling is a sidekick then their participation is required.

Participants will get many FREE opportunities to showcase their businesses and sell their products such as the Step Up Walk, Nathaniel’s Hope Walk, Family Café, and others.  Participants may also get opportunities to be featured on television or radio free of charge. Participants may also get FREE opportunity to be featured on the DSACF website.

$150 for the whole year including 16 sessions and a mentor. This is available through the generosity of our donors that allow a $1350 scholarship to this $1,500 program. Additional needs based partial or full scholarships available for the $150 yearlong program fee. Email for additional scholarship information. 


Weekly Meetings START September 22.

Important Information

  • Self-advocate applicants will be asked to interview. 
  • No identified academic or communication skills are required. AGES 15+ ARE WELCOME TO APPLY!
  • Gatherings will take place on Tuesdays from 6:30PM - 8:30PM. 
  • Each self-advocate will have a designated sidekick (parent/loved one) which will attend meetings with them and help them through the program. 
  • Self-advocates and sidekicks will be expected to attend all meetings.
Name *
Self-Advocate's Name (Person with Down syndrome)
Birthdate *
Birthdate of Self-advocate
Gender of Self-advocate
Sidekick's Name *
Sidekick's Name
The sidekick is the parent, friend, or loved one who is going through the academy with the self-advocate.
Preferred Method of Communication *
Ages 15+ Are Welcome! *
There are no academic or communication requirements for this program. All self-advocate applicants must go through an interview process and will receive confirmation of acceptance within 10 days of the interview. The primary focus of this program is to provide the tools and education needed to start a business. All participants should be prepared to expend time and money to start a business. (Mini-grants could be available for business expenses). If you would like to request an exception to the age limit, please email
Meetings *
Gatherings will take place on Tuesdays from 6:30PM to 8:30PM at Church on the Drive Self-advocates and Sidekicks will be expected to attend every session of the program and 6-week boot camp. Excused absences must be arranged in advance.
Communication *
Communication with leaders of the program and mentors is important for the participants success. Sidekicks and self-advocates are expected to continue communication throughout the year long program.
Interview *
Self-advocates will be expected to schedule a 20 minute in-person interview at DSACF. This interview is not a test, it is an opportunity for self-advocates to show DSACF why they are passionate about starting a business and start their professional development. We want to see that self-advocates are personally interested in joining the academy and starting their own business. The self-advocate does not need to know what type of business interests them at the interview process, only an interest in starting a business. Self-advocates may use whatever aids they may like to show why they are passionate about joining. The interview is designed to be with the self-advocate only and not with the parent or sidekick.
Events *
All self-advocates will be expected to attend the business showcase event. Although participating in the presentations is encouraged and video support and other aids may be used during events to show the applicant’s business journey, participating in the presentation is not required. There will be opportunities at multiple events to be a vendor and all applicants are guaranteed a vendor table at the Step Up for Down Syndrome Buddy Walk.
Starting Your Business *
All self-advocates are expected to start their own business during the program. This program requires additional time outside of the classroom. Self-advocates and sidekicks must be willing to spend additional time outside of the classroom to work on homework and other materials.