In the NFTE Chicago office, we happen to be a bunch of dog lovers. So when we realized the potential in a partnership with a local dog rescue and rehabilitation business, we were just a tad bit excited. I mean, look at these pups, how can you not be overcome with joy and excitement!?
Found Chicago is a boarding, training, rescue and rehabilitation, re-homing facility extraordinaire. (Full disclosure, I use them as boarder, know adopted dogs from Found, and am obsessed with their facebook page – Found is the best) As an organization, Found has grown from a small altruistic venture of the folks at Stay, a modern dog hotel, to an independent multifaceted operation in both services provided and business structure.
At its core, Found is an educational organization. They aim to educate dogs with their training programs, they educate owners through guided training classes, and they educate the public on the true potential of every dog through their content on social media and through traditional media outlets. When asked to join forces with NFTE and share their experiences with our students, the excitement was immediate.
We connected with Fabian Romo-Vargas, the Director of Operations at Found. Fabian is a former Chicago Public School student who started working at Stay, where he worked in the afternoons on a work release program run by Chicago Public Schools. In this program, students with jobs could load their classes in the morning of the school day, and leave midday to go to work. His job was to clean the dogs’ kennels. It was from that job that he realized that he had a passion for a career with dogs, and after high school graduation he continued to work at Stay, funding his own college education and earning a Bachelor’s in Business. When the folks at Stay decided to create Found as it’s own venture, they basically handed the keys to Fabian and told him to drive. It was his journey that solidified our desire to find a partnership in Found. If his high school had hosted our program, he very well could have been one of our students (and an obvious success story at that)!
Fabian joined us this past January for Ideas Week (learn more by reading our Ideas Week post), and has since joined our Board. When asked why he feels so passionately about partnering with NFTE he says,
“I keep education very high in my priorities and the priorities of our communities. NFTE’s entrepreneurship program hits a special place in my heart because I know the uphill battle that is fought by every entrepreneur building a business with zero resources. Managing a business and simultaneously self-funding my education taught me lessons in entrepreneurship that educational programs and business curriculum are not able to articulate, and I want to share that with NFTE.”
We are very thankful to have Fabian and Found in our corner. You all know the age old high schoolers’ question, “but what does that have to do with me?” We have to admit, its a fair question. Many times, out students have a hard time making the mental jump from the huge companies they are familiar with to their own business plans. It is important to us that we present our students with examples of local small businesses that have been started and nurtured to success by people just like them.
At the Ideas Week Rally, Fabian brought his entrepreneurial experiences and his love of dogs to the students. Fabian not only shared his story with our students as a guest speaker, but he also served as judge to the competition that was held that day. In reflection of that role, Fabian articulated the relationship NFTE builds in the community quite well, “Seeing an entire student body come together and brainstorm their business ideas is inspiring. It is great for students and judges alike. The competition definitely provides a bit of self-reflection-should I be asking myself these questions? ”
As a bonus for all Fabian brought with him fellow trainer and the entrepreneur behind Midnight Circus, Jeff Jenkins and his rescued show dogs June Bug and Rosie. June Bug is kinda famous around here in Chicago, bringing her rags to riches story everywhere from local classrooms and city parks, to the half-time show for the Chicago Bulls. Rosie is new to the stage, fitting right in with our young entrepreneurs taking a risk and getting up there and all doing their best (in case you missed it, enjoy the show)! The students were wowed by the dogs’ obedience and agility and we were able to sneak in our sneaky teachable moment.
Our students saw first hand, and quite enjoyably, the passions of two entrepreneurs coming to life. They saw two interests that might not be featured in “big business” thriving and making money (Midnight Circus has raised nearly $1,000,000 for the Chicago Parks District). They were introduced to businesses built with social responsibility and diversity of thought from the ground up. They saw humans and pets alike rise above adversity and find success, security, peace and happiness. Whether its dogs, circus performance, or any other little thing, you can make dreams come true, and there are people who are here to help you.
“The people that surround young minds and their ideas will either enable them to make those dreams real, or they will work against them. I want to enable them and their ideas to succeed. I feel that curriculum like this are the future. I look forward to participating in a program that grows and truly succeeds in its goals.”
-Fabian Romo-Vargas of Found Chicago
In our partnership with Found, we feel that we are moving steadily forward toward building a true network of business partners and mentors that represent the full breadth of opportunity here in Chicago – ultimately creating more paths of success for our students.
Thanks Fabian, Jeff, June Bug and Rosie! We are looking forward to all our success together and apart!
Does your dog need a little training? Specialized boarding or daycare? Check out Found’s services here.
Stay tuned for Midnight Circus performances in the parks this summer!