Changing and Saving Young Lives by Encouraging Entrepreneurship

One of the blessings of this project to publish Latinnovating has been the extraordinary network of people that has come into my life. Last fall I met with Krista Katsantonis, Executive Director of the Bay Area office of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. NFTE (pronounced “nifty”) has a stated mission to “provide programs that inspire young people from low-income communities to stay in school, to recognize business opportunities and to plan for successful futures.”

I connected with NFTE after attending a screening of the incredible film called “Ten9Eight –Shoot for the Moon,” released during Global Entrepreneurship Week. NFTE and I share a core belief that “entrepreneurship education can set at-risk students on the path to high school graduation.” Their website inform us of the US  drop-out crisis.  “Every 29 seconds an American youth drops out of high school – that’s 7,000 young people per day or 1.2 million each year.  One-third of all high school students, and nearly half of all African American and Latino youth, do not graduate.”

I find these numbers to be absolutely horrid. Part of my life’s work (and a key mission of this book) is to do what I can to turn that trend around. I believe that by showcasing stories of successful entrepreneurs, young people will follow their footsteps. That’s by the way, precisely what NFTE does too, but they actively TEACH entrepreneurship in America’s inner cities. The impact of this organization is extraordinary. What the movie  “Ten9Eight” shows is what can happen when a teenager is actively mentored and shown a bigger vision for his or her life. Read some success stories here -you’ll see what I mean.

I am grateful to NFTE for the recent interview we did together. At this event, I was introduced to a young lady, NFTE alumna Maggie Sandoval. Maggie is already running her own business creating handbags. We brainstormed how she might source materials for free, using some ideas provided by Dallas artist Sandra Artalejo who is featured in a chapter of Latinnovating.

Yes indeed, meeting extraordinary people, doing and teaching entrepreneurship, has been the biggest blessing for me thus far. Read about the impact of this unique and special organization here. Find a NFTE program near you, to volunteer with or to suggest to a teenager in your life, here.


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