High school students from economically disadvantaged communities have been challenged by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Fairchester for more than a decade to use their creativity to learn all about business as part of a year-long program. By the end of the year, they create original business plans and compete for the opportunity to make their plans a reality.
On Wednesday, June 6, twenty-five students from high schools in Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford will compete in the Fairfield County-Wide Business Plan Competition, for a chance to receive $1,500 in seed capital as the first place regional winner. The Competition, which will be held at Norwalk Community College, will include a preliminary and final round of competition as well as a reception hosted by President David Levinson. Students will present their original business plans to a panel of distinguished judges made up of local entrepreneurs and business leaders. The First Prize-winner advances to NFTE’s National Competition in New York City this fall for an opportunity to win a prize of $10,000. The competitions are sponsored by MasterCard Worldwide and Pitney Bowes.
Throughout the school year, middle school and high school students in the program work with NFTE-certified teachers for more than 125 hours. They learn a great deal about math, planning, business and more as they explore the world of business in fun ways. Some 400 students have been creating business plans throughout Fairfield County this academic year. Leading entrepreneurs and executives from Fortune 500 companies volunteer, alongside the teachers, to provide students with expertise, advice and support. They visit classrooms and work along with students on their projects and show them how to take make their ideas more concrete.
Executive Director, Joel Warren, says, “This combination of passionate business volunteers complimenting the classroom work done by committed and talent teachers has a powerful impact on the way these young students begin think about their future in much more positive ways.”
According to Megan Freiler, development director of NFTE, “Classroom games and field trips reinforce lessons in a hands-on way that makes abstract concepts real. Most important is the wholesale buying trip and selling event where students learn firsthand the concept of buy low/sell high, and make their first profit while in the NFTE class.”
NFTE Fairchester works with students to combat the drop out statistics with a program that challenges students and provides them with the tools to achieve their dreams as entrepreneurs in the business world. Approximately 1.2 million students in the U.S. drop out before graduating from high school. One-third of these dropouts are unemployed.