Some students in the Chicago are presenting their ideas creating solutions to real world problems.
The NFTE or Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship project based curriculum takes a student from an idea, to a business plan, to a pitch challenge where they can eventually win seed money for their business and qualify for the national competition.
“It’s interesting because when they initially start the year, they don’t even know what an entrepreneur is. And then when you go from not knowing what an entrepreneur is to actually creating their own businesses, being innovative and creative and coming up with these ideas that they didn’t know, they would be able to come up with. It’s just absolutely fantastic.”
“We like to see the transformation in the students. It’s interesting. And it’s fun for me to help them, guide them through that process. And when they have that a-ha moment, it’s just the best thing a teacher could ever dream of.”
The NFTE program focuses on the entrepreneurial mindset and is now in thousands of public, private and charter schools and community based programs across the country.
“NFTE Chicago, in our community, not only, are we teaching entrepreneurship throughout the city in Chicago Metro area, but we’re really building a sense of community and an ecosystem for underserved youth. I think one thing that I’m the most excited about these past years within our community is our focus to build connectivity to youth, to business. And we have to, you know our city is marred in violence and inequality, and if we can work to strengthen those bonds and ensure that our students have a voice and have agency, I think we are not only making a better city, but we’re creating equality for all of our youth and anybody that feels powerless or marginalized. I think that’s what I’m the most excited about.”
NFTE students say it gives them power and more.
“Being from the South side of Chicago. It’s not always a great thing. It’s not always a great thing because out of my 18 years, I’ve been part of many tragic deaths.”
“Like the elevator pitch, like that was my first time ever present like that. So I was really nervous. I was started stuttering a lot. Well, then I was like, I’m growing up. I have to start getting confidence and started believing in myself. So once I started believing in myself and getting confidence, it was got easier, but I was still nervous, but once I started doing it, it got easier.”
The idea: to make the streets of Chicago, a safer place.[Explaining the product – “The basic concept is, nobody can use it except you”]
“Growing up, like in Chicago, I never like spoke in front of more than like five people. I never had to voice my opinion loud cause I really didn’t think people cared or anything. So me doing this project, it made me realize that people are listening and people are hearing my opinion. So it made me feel good that people are listening.”
And thousands of other students across the country are in quarter and semi-final rounds pitching to judges who range from entrepreneurs themselves to executives who say these students are incredible.
“To be totally honest, a lot of the presenters that I saw were very composed, I think a lot more composed than I would have been at 15 or 16 years old. Yeah, I mean, a lot of preparation, it was obvious that a lot of preparation went into this. And I think the execution of the pitches, was super all around.”
“WeWork is all about reaching out to the community, doing anything we can to help in the community. So I just thought this opportunity, it was perfect, and bring it, bring these kids into a space like Wework, I feel like that’s not an opportunity that they would get on a regular basis to see what these co-working spaces look like. Especially with their business proposal ideas. A lot of them turn into small business ideas, and grow from there and what a great space to see where they could potentially grow their businesses than Wework.”
“Entrepreneurship is a giant part of our business. An d the way we look at things, how we help shape our client’s needs, how we move our selves and the way we have our own business. And for us, the idea of able to bring that to a younger generation, have them explore that early, not wait for a certain time in their lives, but actually get a taste of it early, proves out to be a woman careful way for them to learn, grow, and then eventually hopefully become a part of the ecosystem that we serve today.”
“It’s a pretty exciting time for us, blending the curriculum with also some of our community outreach and things that we do.”
The three winners from the Chicago area event will go on to the regional finals May 21st….
“Our first business is Precedent, Wonder, Smarty Pants”
…and those winners advanced to the national finals in New York city, October 16th.
For real news, I’m Sarah Strackhouse.