It is the morning of our Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge Finals. Almost everything is set and ready to go, and now we wait. We wait for our guests to arrive. We wait for the nervous giggles backstage as our presenters peek out at the large crowd. We wait for the 30 Second Pitch contestants to hustle the crowd. We wait for the students to take the stage and wow us with their dedication to their business ideas. We wait for the laughter and tears of triumph and disappointment.
We know how hard our students and teachers have worked this year, and we know that this night will not disappoint. It is going to be a satisfying display of the impact that the NFTE program can have for its participants.
But what will come when 8pm rolls around and everything we have all be working for comes to a close?
For our students, some of their entrepreneurial journeys will continue. For tonight’s first and second place winners, the next step is to prepare their pitches for the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge competition in New York City for the chance to win $25,000. Others will go back to high school, or enter into college with the entrepreneurial mindset in their academic foundation.
At the NFTE Chicago Metro office, we will be planning for our NFTE Class of 2017.
For the 2016-2017 school year, we are going to be focusing on two elements of our program that we feel drive the most impact for Chicago’s youth: volunteers and local entrepreneurs.
Moving forward, our volunteer model will be the bedrock of the NFTE classroom model. We have already signed on corporate partners with commitments to adopt over 50 classrooms. In the classroom adoption model, volunteers have 6-8 volunteer events per school year with their students. They host field trips to their corporate offices, coach students on their business plans, mentor the entrepreneurial mindset, and host classroom competitions. By providing students with diverse experiences over time with dedicated volunteers, we are creating a community of learning that is unmatched in entrepreneurship education.
Steve Iammartino, NFTE Chicago Manager of Programs, has been an advocate of the NFTE volunteer model. As a former NFTE teacher, he knows exactly what consistent and well trained volunteers can mean to NFTE students.
“Volunteers create a more robust experience as students are encouraged to innovate and bring their ideas to the table for collaboration and proof of concept. The relationships built during coaching and mentoring helps build a student’s view of themselves as members of the market economy and business community.”
After students accept their invitation into the economy as more than a consumer, we aim to integrate a fairly new element into their NFTE experience. By engaging local, and often niche entrepreneurs, students will be introduced to innovation and opportunity that surrounds them in their local community. This element of next year’s programming is a particular passion point for the NFTE Chicago Metro Director, Scott Nasatir.
“It is extremely important to our organization that students are exposed to local entrepreneurs and unique businesses. An inclusive programming model will enable our students to be informed, active participants in our economy.”
In order to achieve excellence in our new model, it is essential that the Chicago community steps up. We believe in creating change through action, and that means more than just donating money to NFTE at our annual galas. NFTE has the potential to change the trajectory of the lives of our students by providing them with real world connections and and collaborators.
We are looking forward to next year’s programs and successes. We hope that you will join us in our excitement and in our action.
If you are interested in joining our movement to create a supportive and sustainable economic community for all of Chicago’s residents, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.