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Inner City Kids Learn About Entrepreneurship
High school drop-out rates continue to increase across our nation. According to the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, nearly one in every three high school students in the class of 2006 did not graduate. Many of those drop outs come from minority groups in inner city schools, where poverty and crime are part of the life they know.
But the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a nonprofit organization out of New York, is doing what they can to change that. Though NFTE has been around for awhile (Steve Mariotti started working on the project in 1982), the benefits of the program continue to positively affect the lives of many kids across the nation.
After noticing that kids from some of New York’s toughest neighborhoods were just as interested in the idea of owning their own business as everyone else. Unfortunately, however, many people believe that you have to already be wealthy in order to start a business, and it just wasn’t something any of them found to be a possibility for their lives. Mariotti sought to change their perspective and provide the education they would need in order to succeed.
He came up with a curriculum of 50 lesson plans, everything from developing a business plan to sales and marketing, to opening a checking account and balancing a budget. The curriculum was taught to students in the New York area and the results were very encouraging. The more he taught the classes, the more students were interested. They would come to school ready to learn.
After seeking and obtaining an investor in 1987, the program has since reached more than 150,000 teenagers in 21 states across the nation and trained up over 4,000 entrepreneurship teachers. Not to mention the fact that the program has now expanded overseas into 13 different countries, including China, Germany and India.
Students have the option of taking NFTE’s two-hour weekly classes in courses that last a semester or full year, after-school programs or summer camps. As part of the curriculum, students come up with their own business plan and participate in organized selling events at their school to get a feel for how the business world works. Additionally, students can participate in the NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, where their business plans compete and the winning precludes $10,000 in seed money to actually start his/her business.
A study in 1997 performed by the Center for Youth and Communities at Brandels University discovered that, of the students that completed the NFTE program, 33% started their own small business and 70% finished college. It is only expected that, in the last 10 years, those numbers have seen an increase. Mariotti saw a need 20 years ago and ran with it, giving inner city and at-risk youth yet another chance at having full and successful lives.
• BusinessWeek.com: Business Courses Give Kids a Leg Up
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