An Entrepreneurial Generation

Starts Here

2017 Annual Report

On an almost daily basis, our students tell us that thanks to NFTE they have a new mindset and a better life. They possess the skills and confidence to approach the world with an innovator’s eye and a founder’s grit—to succeed in the innovation economy.

This year we start a new chapter in NFTE’s story. We identified the three most important ingredients in educating our students for the innovation economy, and we launched long-term investments in these areas to build greater impact this year and beyond. Explore our path below.

Entrepreneurial Mindset

The Root of Success in the Innovation Economy

Demand from Employers

of employers identify entrepreneurial skills as “very important”

employers seek entrepreneurial experience in hires
Opportunity Recognition

Instead of seeing a problem and giving up, I now see a problem and think of several different ways around it; I am not scared of failing anymore.

Arti Shala, NFTE alum, Founder of Shala Tech

Comfort With Risk

An entrepreneurial mindset is one that isn’t afraid to pursue something even with the knowledge of imminent failures and setbacks.

Toheeb Okenla, NFTE alum, Co-founder of T&J Soccer

Creativity & Innovation

Before NFTE, we never explored our creative side. We focused solely on academics and not how to apply what we learned to real-life situations and helping others.

Ashley Marin, NFTE alum, Co-founder of Hygieia

Future Orientation

Growing up I wasn’t privileged; I wanted to create a world better than what I was experiencing.

Aaron Brown, NFTE alum, Founder of KTY Innovation

Initiative & Self-Reliance

I try to find the issues that I can make a difference in personally, through my abilities and education and opportunity, and I chose to go after creating opportunities for minorities and renewable energy. I see myself as a person that really can contribute.

Romney Cola, NFTE alum, Co-founder of Tie-In

Flexibility & Adaptability

Doing the NFTE program helped me to be independent and do things in my life that I’ve never actually done before.

Denisha Green, NFTE alum, Founder of Tasty Couture

Critical Thinking & Problem Solving

Having an entrepreneurial mindset means to be able to think critically, having the ability to learn something as you go, and being able to think outside the box all together.

Clifton Jackson, NFTE alum, Founder of CWC pliers

Communication & Collaboration

Before starting the program, I was a pretty shy student. NFTE actually gave me the tools to have the confidence to speak in front of people.

Owen Cuseo, NFTE alum, Founder of Roadtrip Across the Universe

NFTE Entrepreneurship Pathway

Launched in Spring 2017
1. Awareness

World Series of Innovation

A global, online experience where students create business solutions aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals



A digital experience introducing students to entrepreneurship through the process of building a virtual food truck business

2. Exposure

Exploring Careers

An introduction to entrepreneurship, laying the groundwork for academic, career, and life success


Startup Tech

A blended tech-entrepreneurship course where students create an app and corresponding business plan

3. Expertise

Entrepreneurship 1

An award-winning course, focused on activating the entrepreneurial mindset as well as creating and pitching an original business plan



Entrepreneurship 1, delivered as a multi-week learning experience

4. Application

Entrepreneurship 2

An advanced course that deepens the entrepreneurial mindset and centers on business model validation, product development, and marketing


Startup Summer

Entrepreneurship 2, delivered as a 16-week learning experience

Entrepreneurial Teacher Corps

Launched in Spring 2017
1. Master Educators
  • Leading teacher training for new NFTE teachers
  • Overseeing professional development
2. Lead Teachers
  • Spearheading teacher peer-to-peer learning though Professional Learning Communities
  • Presenting at NFTE’s Annual Teacher Summit
3. Teachers
  • Motivating NFTE students on a daily basis
  • Sharing best practices through NFTE’s Model Teacher Challenge

Impact Stories

Jasmine Adams

Jasmine Adams

Age 18, NFTE and YEScarolina Alum

Founder of Smudgies

Jasmine, the winner of this year’s National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, discovered that swimsuit-like material is an excellent make-up remover. Hoping to share her newly found convenience with others, Jasmine created Smudgies, fabric cloths that can remove make-up without liquid.

Jasmine is a National Merit finalist and is currently attending the University of Dallas where she plans to double major in business and English. Watch Jasmine’s pitch video here.

Cheyenne Sookoo

Cheyenne Sookoo

Age 18, NFTE Alum

Founder of Events on Canvas

An artist from an early age, Cheyenne was both excited and anxious when Blick Art Materials featured her as a Rising Artist and invited her to paint in-store. At first this experience was daunting, but Cheyenne took the risk and came to love it so much that she decided to apply her NFTE-learned skills to create and run Events on Canvas, a live art service for weddings and other celebrations. Cheyenne receives many requests for her services and was a finalist in this year’s Regional Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Cheyenne graduated from Brooklyn High School of the Arts where she double majored in instrumental music and art, and this year she is running her business and volunteering before heading off to college.

Godfrey Phoenix

Godfrey Phoenix

Age 19, NFTE Alum

Founder of Phoenix Haven

Godfrey Phoenix is from the south side of Chicago, an area with one of the highest crime rates in the country. When asked to solve an unmet need in his community for his NFTE class, it was a no-brainer. He would create a nonprofit to provide a safe space for teens to go after school to play sports, video games, do homework, seek counseling and get a bite to eat—free of charge.

Godfrey’s been surprised by the connections he’s made so far, and he’s already reached out to the Board of Education and local CEOs for support. “I thought being an entrepreneur was far-fetched, but NFTE guided me to begin helping others.”

Godfrey now studies business at St. Louis University.

Success Metrics

Career-Ready Alumni

of NFTE alumni are either employed or furthering their education.

NFTE alumni have started at least one business.

NFTE alumni who are college graduates earn more than the national median of $60,000.
Engaged NFTE Students

of NFTE students felt that NFTE was more relevant than their other courses.

of NFTE students enjoyed learning through experiential activities.
Diverse Young People

Diverse Young People

A Thriving Community



Entrepreneurial Teacher Corps Members

A Sustainable Solution

International Presence

NFTE is proud to partner with leading organizations across the globe to activate the entrepreneurial mindset in young people.


students served outside the United States

Special Thanks

Donors are vital partners in providing opportunities to our students. Thank you to our generous donors who made this incredible year possible.
Equity Investors ($1,000,000+)

Venture Capitalists ($500,000+)



Growth Investors ($200,000+)

Egidio Lombardi Charitable Lead Trust

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein

Multinational Scholar Charitable Trust 1907

Santander Bank