07 Feb, 2012
Some kids need a challenge. NFTE is there for them.
Growing up in Port Chester, N.Y., Andrew Gomez always wanted to become a doctor. Somehow, he never thought he could achieve that dream, until he got involved in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).
After participating in the NFTE Fairchester program at his high school, Andrew found the pure ambition to achieve his goal. He is now studying biology at Iona College, and plans to become an orthopedic surgeon. NFTE students draft and present business plans. Then they compete to win seed capital by presenting their plans to a panel of judges.
NFTE programs www.NFTE.com have helped some 350,000 students since the organization was founded in 1987 by Steve Mariotti, who decided to apply his experiences in business to the education of at-risk students.
Another NFTE alumnus is Zoe Damacela, the 2011 runner-up of the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. Zoe hardly lacked business acumen; she launched her first venture at age 8. But the Challenge helped jump-start her current business, Zoe Damacela Apparel. Her designs were featured recently at Latino Fashion Week in Chicago, and her face was featured on the cover of Seventeen magazine.
Biology student Gomez says NFTE’s program taught him a valuable lesson: “All business ideas are achievable. It all depends on the effort that you put in. You need to work hard to get what you want. Working with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship showed me that if you want something really bad, you can have it.”
He now encourages others to get involved with NFTE, as it “can offer so much to you in the long run. A small idea can grow into something you would never imagine it becoming. You learn many skills and you network. You learn a lot about how people and their clients represent themselves.”
The organization’s accomplishments reflect Mariotti’s goal for NFTE: to help young people of all backgrounds to pursue their goals and succeed in making their dreams a reality.
The fact is, Gomez is hardly alone in needing help to take that first step forward.
An August 2011 study by the Pew Hispanic Center revealed an all-time record number of Hispanic students enrolling in colleges and universities. Between 2009 and 2010, about 349,000 Hispanic students enrolled in college. During the same period, non-Hispanic white student enrollments decreased by 320,000.
Nonetheless, Hispanic students still drop out at higher rates than non-Hispanic white students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the Hispanic dropout rate was 17.6 percent in 2009, down from 35.2 percent in 1980. The rate for non-Hispanic white students was 5.2 percent in 2009, compared with 11.4 percent in 1980.
More information about BizCamp, and other NFTE programs, is available at NFTE.com.