The student winner of the 2017 NFTE South Florida Entrepreneurship Challenge owned the stage during her presentation in front of hundreds of people. She executed her pitch so perfectly, she didn't even need the cute cameo role her little sister provided (though it didn't hurt.)
That was Coral Gables Senior High School student Ashley Bellinger (pictured above), who won first place in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship South Florida Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge last week. Hialeah Gardens Senior High School students Manny Mollinedo and Danny Martinez placed second. They will represent the South Florida Region at the NFTE 2017 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in October in New York City where they will present and defend their business plans to compete for prizes totaling $20,000.
Ashley won $1,500 for her plan for Amber Ash, her t-shirt fashion company that celebrates diversity and individualism; her little sister modeled one of Ashley's designs during the presentation. Manny and Danny created Fresh Fit and won $1,000. These students presented their plan for a company which creates and distributes liners for fitness shaker bottles. Jacqueesha Jones from Miami Northwestern Senior High School who presented her plan for The Brownie Factory, an organization that sells brownies to raise college scholarship funds for low-income students, was the third place finalist, receiving a prize of $500.
“NFTE activates the entrepreneurial mindset and builds startup skills in youth both to ensure their long-term success and a more vibrant economy and society,” says Shawn Osborne, NFTE President and CEO. “Youth today are not prepared for the jobs of today or to create and fill the jobs of tomorrow. Many of the high-growth jobs of today barely existed a decade ago and the jobs of the future likely do not exist today. The entrepreneurial mindset is therefore key to success for any young person who wants to be ready for a fast-changing future.”
The teens demonstrated their command of the entrepreneurial mindset, the way entrepreneurs recognize opportunities and overcome challenges. Young people presented and defended their business plans before a prestigious panel of judges and an audience of key business and school leaders. All the finalists received mentoring before they competed, and the student winners will receive more mentoring before competing in New York this fall.
The judges for the South Florida regional competition were: Chris Caines, Miami Program Associate, Knight Foundation; Ralph Campbell, Managing Partner, 4D Associates; Ana Karina Felix, Senior Vice President, CCAR LATAM, Citi; Erik Pupo, Managing Director, Accenture; Dr. Stephanie Scott, Director of Research & Evaluation, United Way of Broward County, and Stephanie Sylvestre, Chief Programs Officer/Chief Information Officer, The Children’s Trust.
NFTE Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenges will take place in cities across the country supported by Microsoft and the Citi Foundation as part of its Pathways to Progress global expansion to prepare urban youth for today’s competitive job market. Additional support for the South Florida Challenge was provided by Mastercard, along with Bank of America, Celebrity Cruises, EY, Royal Caribbean, and Santander. The South Florida regional competition was held on May 18 at Briza on the Bay in Miami.
Also part of the May 18 event was a fast-pitch contest involving about 10 students. Each gave a one-minute pitch and the audience voted. And the winner of the fast-pitch was ... middle-school student Jonathan Jeancharles for his pitch for Extra Learning XL. Jonathan was a fan favorite for sure. Before the student fast-pitch competition started, the students networked with the audience and wore nametags that said "Ask me to pitch." Jonathan was an aggressive networker -- he didn't wait to be asked to tell us about his business idea.
The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is an international nonprofit that activates the entrepreneurial mindset in young people and builds their knowledge about business startup. Students acquire the entrepreneurial mindset (e.g., innovation, self-reliance, comfort with risk), alongside business, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), and presentation skills—equipping them to drive their best futures in the 21st Century. NFTE focuses its work on under-resourced communities, with programs in 22 locations in 9 countries. In South Florida, thousands of students across 38 schools are enrolled in the NFTE program. This was the final event of the school year, although some of the students will be participating in NFTE summer programs.
Congratulations to the South Florida teen winners!
First place winner Amber Ash.
Second Place winners Fresh Fit.