Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) has announced a partnership with the All Points North Foundation in support of NFTE’s mission to activate the entrepreneurial mindset in youth from under-resourced communities. The $60,000 grant from the Foundation funded NFTE tech entrepreneurship courses in mid-Atlantic, North Texas and St. Louis middle schools.
During the 2019-2020 school year, the Foundation’s funding supported 17 teachers, who taught Startup Tech, NFTE’s blended tech entrepreneurship course, to over 700 of NFTE’s youngest learners in 16 schools.
NFTE’s Startup Tech program asks students to identify ways to improve their world and to build marketable digital solutions using the user-friendly app development tool MIT App Inventor. Students then create an original app that addresses a community need, develop an abbreviated business plan using lean startup tools and methodologies, and pitch their app at a Startup Showcase where they have a chance to win funding and publicity.
Because NFTE’s work focuses on underserved communities, many NFTE students were disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and also lacked adequate technology tools and internet access. But despite school closures and widely disparate processes for remote learning, NFTE teachers and staff mobilized to help students participate in online learning, offering evolving and innovative support to students and educators. NFTE’s Startup Tech teachers received a virtual learning guide that allowed them to continue the program with variations tailored to their students’ varying tech capabilities.
One teacher in Dallas was able to host a live virtual Showcase on Zoom for her students this spring. NFTE St. Louis teacher Passion Bragg helped students complete their app development projects and participate in their end-of-program competition via video, even as her school faced attendance challenges once schools closed their doors.
“If there is not a door to open, you’re going to have to build one,” said Bragg. “The NFTE curriculum really helps give children a foundation and a background in the hard and soft skills they will need in whatever job they end up in.”
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, Craig Morris, who teaches Startup Tech at Brittany Woods Middle School in University City, Missouri, shepherded his students to victory. “There is an upside,” he said. “You learn new ways of reaching students for next year, and dealing with students who are ill, who might go on out-of-school suspension, or are having mental health issues. There are new ways to teach, new ways to connect.”
“We believe that the middle-school years truly shape the future of our nation’s youth and today’s middle-school education experience in underserved communities needs to change,” said All Points North Foundation Director of Education Grant Partnerships Tony Moten. . “Particularly in the current climate, teachers must be adequately prepared for an ever-evolving education environment that fosters academic, emotional and social growth.”
“We greatly appreciate the support of All Points North Foundation, which allows us to prepare students for the fast-changing and increasingly skills-based future of work,” said NFTE CEO Dr. J.D. LaRock. “This year’s Startup Tech program also showcased student and teacher resilience, as they all were forced to adapt to changed circumstances in the face of COVID-19. The students’ enthusiasm and effort are proof of their developing entrepreneurial skills, and we look forward to continued innovation in next year’s program.”
Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is a global nonprofit that activates the entrepreneurial mindset and builds startup skills in young people from under-resourced communities. Reaching more than 100,000 middle and high school students annually, NFTE works with schools and community partners in 25 U.S. states and 10 countries around the world. Leveraging classroom teachers and volunteers from top-tier companies, NFTE’s research-based model teaches students how to identify a business opportunity and launch a business; helps them learn about the range of jobs and occupations available to them; and develops their “entrepreneurial mindset” — a set of skills including creativity, adaptability, communication, and collaboration that leads to success in any career. Since 1987, NFTE has educated 1.2 million young people worldwide, helping thousands launch businesses and companies of all sizes. Learn more at nfte.com.
About All Points North Foundation
All Points North Foundation was founded in 2011 by a family who believes passionately that everyone has a “true North” – a place of achievement – and that all should have equal opportunity and access to realize their goals. All Points North Foundation provides grants to U.S.-based nonprofits in two areas – public middle-school education (grades 6-8) and solar energy – that have the power to help communities navigate upward. AllPointsNorthFoundation.org