The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is a global nonprofit organization that provides entrepreneurship education programs for middle school, high school, and college students. Since its founding in 1987 by educator Steve Mariotti, NFTE has reached over 1 million young people worldwide, with the goal of empowering underserved youth to own their economic success.
NFTE focuses on activating the entrepreneurial mindset in youth through hands-on curriculum, business plan competitions, and connections with the startup community. Research shows that NFTE graduates have higher incomes, are more likely to start businesses, and are better prepared with the skills needed for career success and lifelong learning. [Cite data source]
With entrepreneurship education gaining popularity in the 21st century, NFTE aims to make it accessible and inclusive for all students. The organization partners with schools, governments, and corporations to bring programs into classrooms worldwide. As youth face high unemployment rates, NFTE empowers students with the confidence and know-how to create opportunities for themselves.
This comprehensive guide will explore NFTE’s approach, programs, impact, and plans for advancing entrepreneurship education globally.
Table of Contents
Many of us dream of having our own business or starting our own company and watching it grow bigger and more successful. Some do it for the money, and others simply do it for the dream of becoming independent and self-reliant.
But you must learn a few things to achieve that dream and be successful. Starting a new business is no simple task. It is difficult to wake up and think, “I want to start my own company.”
It is a very difficult and risky process. That is why learning how to be an entrepreneur and the art of entrepreneurship is vital.
So, what exactly is entrepreneurship? Entrepreneurship is the ability and desire to start, expand, and operate a business venture.
There are four crucial requirements before starting a new business.
These requirements are:
- Entrepreneurship skills,
- And capital.
What is the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship?
Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship is a non-profit international organization for young adults. This organisation offers training programs and helps wannabe entrepreneurs learn about entrepreneurship.
NFTE helps those young adults to work and improve their skills. Well-known schools also provide programs to implement those creative skills into their young minds.
This includes concrete skills, like drafting a business plan, as well as soft skills, like communication and cultural awareness.
What is Entrepreneurship?
An Entrepreneur is someone who perceives an opportunity and builds an organization to pursue that opportunity.
Entrepreneurship involves finding new business opportunities and jumping on them.
This includes functions like:
- Market and Customer Research,
- Service and Product Innovation,
- Team Building,
- Finding and managing Resources,
The entrepreneur is the embodiment of many things. He/she is the founder, opportunity seeker, creator and initiator, leader, problem solver, motivator, strategist and guardian of the venture’s mission, values, and culture.
There are nine desirable characteristics that any entrepreneur should have. These skills include:
- Leadership skills,
- Opportunity obsession,
- Tolerance of risk,
- Motivation to excel.
Statistics and facts to expand on NFTE’s mission, reach and impact:
NFTE focuses on reaching youth in underserved communities and closing opportunity gaps. Over 70% of the students they serve come from low-income communities. 
- NFTE programs reached over 80,000 youth worldwide in 2020. 
- They partner with over 600 schools and organizations globally. 
- Programs are offered in 22 U.S. states and 10 countries as of 2021. 
- Independent studies found that NFTE students have 3-5 times higher confidence in their entrepreneurial skills after completing a program. 
- NFTE alumni are 3 times more likely to start their own business, and 50% of alumni work for themselves. 
- Students who participate have a 9% higher average income and are 5 times more likely to graduate college. 
By including statistics and sources on the number of youth served, global partners, and outcomes, it highlights NFTE’s wide reach and positive impact. Let me know if you need any other data points or sources!
   NFTE 2020 Annual Report  NFTE website  Columbia University study  Brandeis University study  NFTE 10-year student survey
History of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship
The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship was founded by Steve Mariotti, an entrepreneur who shifted his career to education. Mariottie aspired to help at-risk students to learn in New York City in 1987.
The original purpose of the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship was to reduce the number of school dropouts and enhance the academic performance of those on the verge of quitting school.
Mariotti realized that with the right motivation, you could help students who originate from low-income communities. His method was converting “street smart” into “business smart.”
Although Mariotti is the one who founded the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship, the current president and CEO is Shawn K. Osborne. Shawn is a hard-working CEO who worked in TechAmerica before joining the NFTE team.
He is known for good leadership and has experience running high-growth companies for over 20 years. So far, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship has worked across the US and the world with 700,000+ young adults from low-income communities.
They are found in twenty-three different locations across 10 different countries and on different continents, but their headquarters is still in New York City. Their yearly budget is said to be 19 Million Dollars.
You could also participate in the program by applying for a job, volunteering or donating money.
Key milestones in NFTE’s growth include:
- 1991 – NFTE partners with the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship to expand to new cities.
- 1999 – Launches the first NFTE World Series of Entrepreneurship for students to pitch business plans.
- 2004 – Introduces NFTE-Adobe Youth Voices program focused on creative arts education.
- 2013 – Reaches 50,000 students worldwide. Wins award from Stanford Social Innovation Review.
- 2021 – Expands digital offerings with new curriculum during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Overview of Programs Section:
NFTE offers educational programs focused on business and entrepreneurship skills for middle school, high school, and college students. Signature initiatives include:
- NFTE Business Plan Competition – Students develop and pitch startup ideas to compete for seed funding.
- NFTE Digital Platform – Provides curriculum for entrepreneurship courses and clubs. Includes lessons, business simulations, and digital tools.
- Startup Tech – Partners with tech companies to help students develop tech and coding skills.
- Entrepreneurial Mindset – Training program that builds critical soft skills like communication, creativity, and collaboration.
- Young Entrepreneur Fellowship – University scholarship, mentoring and accelerator program for student entrepreneurs.
NFTE reaches over 80,000 students annually through these initiatives, which provide hands-on entrepreneurial learning. Independent studies show that NFTE graduates have higher incomes and employment.
Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship School Programs
As mentioned, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship works with students in low-income communities. These communities are usually infested with high rates of crime, which is the main reason NFTE specifically targets those communities.
NFTE teaches entrepreneurship almost exclusively to low-income schools in rural or developing countries.
It works by motivating the students to stay in school and teaching them skills that will help them in the real world, such as seizing an opportunity as soon as you recognize one.
The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship also helps give them hope and advises their students about good leadership skills, giving them a goal, an ambition to accomplish or a target to reach.
The idea is to motivate the students to finish their education and not quit.
The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship Competitions
During the academic year, each NFTE student generates an original business plan. They are supposed to display their entrepreneurial way of thinking and what they learned from the program.
Afterwards, those students submit their business plans to the competitions, which a committee of professional judges judges. Here, they get a chance to practice their presentation skills.
If they win, they’ll get education funding or start their business.
Overview of NFTE’s main programs and initiatives with additional details on activities and outcomes:
NFTE Business Plan Competition
- High school students develop a business plan for a startup idea over 10 weeks.
- Plans include marketing strategy, financials, and operations. Students pitch to judges.
- Competitions happen at classroom, city, state, and national levels.
- Winners can receive seed funding and business mentorship opportunities.
- Outcomes: Students gain business planning skills and confidence. Many launch their startups.
NFTE Digital Platform
- Online curriculum for middle school, high school, and college entrepreneurship courses.
- Includes 150+ hours of lessons, business simulations, quizzes and digital tools.
- Used in classes, after-school programs, and clubs. Flexible self-paced learning.
- Outcomes: Builds business knowledge and mindset. Students report higher engagement levels.
- Partners with tech firms to provide product design and coding challenges.
- Students get hands-on learning with the latest technologies like AI 3D printing.
- Develop prototypes, apps, and products that address real-world problems.
- Outcomes: 95% of students increase interest in technology careers.
The hands-on activities and measurable outcomes showcase how NFTE’s programs cultivate practical entrepreneurial skills.
Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship Success Stories
Naturally, the value of NFTE can only be measured in terms of the impact that it has had on real lives. While the program has helped countless young people learn new skills, let’s look at a few high-profile success stories.
Jesus Fernandez & Toheeb Okenla: T&J Soccer
Jesus & Toheeb, Winners of the 2013 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge (NYEC) and Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship graduates in 2013, had parents who immigrated to find a better living situation in the US.
They want everyone to know achieving your dreams and reaching your goals is possible. You can reach your goals if you are dedicated, ambitious and hardworking.
Both are passionate about Soccer and entrepreneurship. So, they combined their love for those two things and came up with T&J Soccer. They considered what bothered them most in the game and came out with new soccer socks.
The new socks had an extra pocket, allowing the player to add a shin guard.
Its purpose was to stop the shin guard from moving around to prevent the player from getting injured. They both faced this problem while playing. They will develop their idea into an actual business with the capital they earned after winning the NYEC.
Robbie Martin: The Deaf Academy
This story is about a very successful, ambitious, dedicated deaf man. Doctors told his parents that he would never be able to walk, run or hear. But they never gave up on their son!
He could walk, run and play with all the kids his age.
Even years later, when he suffered from rejection in all the jobs he applied for because he was deaf, he still did not give up hope. While taking the NFTE program in school, he was inspired to create The Deaf Academy.
Robbie Martin created the deaf academy to teach sign language.
While presenting his idea in the NFTE competition, he started to sign to the judges, asking them if they wanted free Celtics tickets.
When no one understood what he was signing, his interpreter expressed their need to learn sign language so they would not miss the opportunity for free tickets, proving his point of the need to learn how to sign.
Stephanie Foxworth: Elaborate Dips
Let us agree that we all want to live healthier lifestyles by always eating more fruits and veggies and less junk food.
But it is hard since sometimes Junk food is easy and convenient. Foxworth, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship Northeast Ohio Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2012, made it much easier!
She decided to add chocolate to fruits. This is very familiar nowadays, but in 2012, that was considered an outrageous concept. Nothing compares to the feeling of seeing the plans you made come to life.
Bruce Procter & Glen Procter: BruceGlen
Bruce and Glen Procter were two shy twin brothers who lived with a drug addict for a father.
In 2001, after the twins took the NFTE course, they came up with “Twin Sports” Which provided sports apparel and accessories, headbands and hats to disadvantaged kids. They won the National competitions and earned $10,000.
Afterwards, they decided to continue their education and thanks to the Network for Teaching
entrepreneurship, they now own BruceGlen.
The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship saved their lives with this program. No one could have predicted what could have happened if they had continued living their previous lives with their drug-addicted father.
Teaching Entrepreneurship Funding and Awareness
- As a nonprofit, NFTE relies heavily on grants, donations and corporate sponsorships for funding. This makes consistent revenue year-to-year difficult compared to self-sustaining for-profit models.
- Declines in corporate giving during recessions put a budgetary strain on operations and expansion efforts.
- The lack of multi-year government commitments to fund entrepreneurial programs creates uncertainty in long-term planning.
However, NFTE has diversified its funding sources by partnering with foundations, individual donors, and event sponsorships. According to its annual reports, the organization has increased revenue in the past 5 years.
- Since entrepreneurship education is still new relative to traditional disciplines, many schools and policymakers are unaware of its benefits. This can limit the adoption of NFTE programs.
- NFTE competes for attention with other youth development nonprofits and education technology platforms. Cutting through the noise to demonstrate impact presents a marketing challenge.
On the other hand, momentum is building around entrepreneurship. NFTE has successfully advocated for supportive legislation in multiple states to advance entrepreneurial curriculum standards. The organization partners with well-known brands, earning recognition from high-profile media outlets.
During startup funding and scaling adoption present difficulties, NFTE seems to be mitigating these issues reasonably well. The organization continues to grow its reach year-over-year. Presenting a balanced perspective can increase credibility.
The Impact of Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship
We all have a dream that we wished or hoped would come true. Thanks to Steve Mariotti, he helped a lot of people by creating the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship program, as it was the reason that many people have managed to achieve so much.
Entrepreneurship is complicated, but when it is studied thoroughly, it would be very easy to start up your own business.
The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship has saved many people’s lives, saving them from quitting school and turning to criminal life. The program motivated them to learn, win competitions, and start businesses.
Jesus Fernandez & Toheeb Okenla, Robbie Martin, Stephanie Foxworth, and Bruce & Glen Procter are just some of the many Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship graduates who have succeeded, thanks to the NFTE. The program helped them pull a 180, transformed people’s lives and allowed them to become something else.
Teaching Entrepreneurship FAQ
What is NFTE’s mission?
NFTE’s mission is to provide entrepreneurship education programs that inspire underserved youth to succeed in school, business, and life.
How is NFTE funded?
NFTE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that relies on funding from grants, corporate sponsors, individual donors, and foundation partners.
What age groups does NFTE serve?
NFTE offers programs for middle school, high school, and college students ages 11-25.
What are some key NFTE programs?
Flagship programs include the NFTE Business Plan Competition, Digital Curriculum, Startup Tech, and Young Entrepreneur Fellowship.
What is NFTE’s impact?
Independent studies show NFTE graduates have higher incomes, confidence, employment rates, and improved business and life skills.
Teaching Entrepreneurship Conclusion
For over 30 years, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship has allowed students to own their economic success through business and entrepreneurship education. NFTE empowers youth with the mindset, knowledge, and skills to thrive in academics, careers, and life.
As the future of work evolves, NFTE aims to democratize access to entrepreneurship and close opportunity gaps for underserved youth across America and worldwide. With innovative curriculum, experiential learning, dynamic partnerships, and demonstrated outcomes, NFTE provides a model for impactful 21st century education.