Global nonprofit Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) celebrated 18-year-old Josh Kreuger of St. Louis as the winner of last night’s 17th annual National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, presented by the Citi Foundation and Ernst & Young LLP (EY US), with additional support from American Student Assistance. Forty regional champions traveled to New York to compete in a pitching competition on October 13. After a series of elimination rounds, three national finalists took the stage at 787 Seventh Avenue to pitch their businesses to a panel of five VIP judges in front of a live audience.
Kreuger, a student at South Technical High School in St. Louis, took first place with his business MODRN Media, a digital marketing agency that trains and employs content creators while offering budget-friendly video production and social media management services to small businesses in the same community. He was awarded $10,000 plus a 45-minute mentorship session with Daymond John, The People’s Shark and the founder, CEO and president of FUBU, a $6 billion hip-hop apparel company.
Of his plans for the money, Kreuger said, “I’ve considered investing it, but if I do spend it, it’s going to be on equipment and a space I can use to train content creators and inspire people who are where I was five years ago.”
Two runners-up were each awarded $2,500. Thomas Vo, 17, from Nimitz High School in Irving, Texas, presented his business Reheats, which makes electric heated gloves for construction workers and others working in the cold. Abhinav Gorrepati, 14, from Silver Creek High School in San Jose, California, presented CredX, an online educational platform that encourages financial literacy in teens through engaging lessons. An additional $3,000 in prize money was distributed during the semifinal round and at last night’s presentation. The students can use their awards to grow their businesses or further their educational goals.
“In a time when innovative thinking is the new economic currency, the entrepreneurial mindset of our young competitors shines bright,” said Dr. J.D. LaRock, NFTE’s president and CEO. “From biodegradable drug-detecting napkins to 3D-printed eyeglasses, this year’s business ideas stand as examples of how our students are engaging in new technologies, environmentally sustainable solutions, and social entrepreneurship. Congratulations to Josh and NFTE’s 2022 class of young entrepreneurs for seeing problems as opportunities for innovation.”
The judges for the final round of competition included Vladimir F. Galiothe, Managing Director of Equity Derivatives Trading at Citigroup; Alexis Jeffries, Director, Head of Business Product Marketing at Glassdoor; Amanda F. Loyola, Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company and NFTE Class of 2008; Dr. Lamell McMorris, Principal and Head of Policy, Regulatory and Government Relations at Edward Jones; and Alysia Steinmann, Metro New York Office Managing Partner at EY US.
Eleven-year-old Josiah Israel of Miami was honored with the Daniel Treanor Memorial Award, a $500 prize awarded to a NFTE student who has overcome a significant physical or health-related challenge.
“For many years, Citi and the Citi Foundation have been committed to creating pathways for young people to unlock their professional potential and our longstanding support for NFTE is one of the ways we’ve brought this to life,” said Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation and Head of Citi Community Investing and Development. “This year’s winners join an illustrious group of inspiring young entrepreneurs who are changing the status quo before our eyes, and we can’t wait to see how they will continue to positively shape the future.”
“As the future of work continues to evolve in unpredictable ways, young people who actively draw on the entrepreneurial mindset will be well positioned to adapt, adjust and succeed,” said Erika Patterson, EY Americas Corporate Responsibility leader. “Whether they start their own companies or bring their creative thinking to other jobs, these young innovators will excel, and EY US is honored to be part of their journey.”
Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) ignites the entrepreneurial mindset with unique learning experiences that empower students to own their futures. A global nonprofit founded in 1987, NFTE provides high-quality entrepreneurship education to middle school, high school, and postsecondary students. NFTE brings the power of entrepreneurship to students, regardless of family income, community resources, special needs, gender identity, race, or ethnicity. NFTE has educated more than a million students, delivering our programs in school, out of school, in-person, online, or through hybrid models. Visit www.nfte.com to learn more.
About Citi Foundation
The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant communities. The Citi Foundation’s “More than Philanthropy” approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. . For more information, visit citifoundation.com.
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities. EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. Information about how EY collects and uses personal data and a description of the rights individuals have under data protection legislation are available via ey.com/privacy. For more information about our organization, please visit ey.com.
Katie Montoy/Lambert & Co.
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