At what she deems the “ripe old age of 18,” Amylah Charles of the Los Angeles metropolitan area shines like a pro on the national stage. She rocked it as one of three 2021 winners of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. This July, the founder of CurlyCrownz crushed the Do-Or-Dier Visionary Foundation’s (DODVF) See It, Believe It, Do It Challenge, winning $10,000 for her natural hair care company.
Now live, Apple Podcasts and Spotify listeners can hear from Charles and Kene Turner, NFTE Director of National Postsecondary and Alumni Programs, on legendary skateboarder and entrepreneur Rob Dyrdek’s Build with Rob podcast.
Dyrdek acknowledges the work of NFTE, a global nonprofit, “since 1987 … at the forefront of teaching entrepreneurship to youth.”
“NFTE is a remarkable program. I’m so glad that we were able to get together to do this,” said Dyrdek, CEO and founder of Dyrdek Machine and its nonprofit arm, DODVF – founded in 2021 to inspire and empower underestimated entrepreneurs.
Other winners of the DODVF challenge featuring NFTE alumni, were:
- 2008 alum Brian Sessions of Baltimore, winning $5,000 at second place for his ROC Enrichment Program that enriches K-12 students’ academic, social and artistic well-being;
- 2008 alum Jevon Howell of Miami with a $3,000 third-place win for SHOPHOWELL, which makes e-commerce easy, so small brands can get ahead on Amazon; and
- 2004 alum Brandon Griffin of Gary, Indiana, whose $2,000 fourth-place win was for his Gen Z Academy, which helps members of Generation Z navigate their entry into the workforce, and establish a career path unique to their passions, skills, and goals.
About the first-place winner, Dyrdek said, “I have so much faith in Amylah’s future. I know it’s hard to be young and deal with the chaos of trying to make everything work, but foundationally and fundamentally, she has that ‘it factor.’ It’s simply just a matter of growing into it over time.”
Professional growth is definitely on Charles’ mind, thanks to startup seed money from her NFTE and DODVF challenge wins. As for academic growth, the Eleanor Roosevelt High School graduate is excited to be a San Francisco State University student.
“This blessing will help me secure a mass manufacturer, so I can produce my products at a faster rate and secure a trademark,” said Charles, still reeling over her win. Initially, she thought she’d just “hop on Zoom and be given some feedback” about her business.
“To my surprise, they told me I won first place,” she said. “I was absolutely speechless! My mouth dropped open. I was praising God and thanking my NFTE mentors and family for being a part of my village and encouraging me on this journey.”
DODVF’s work encompasses the pillars of ambition, fortitude, determination, and grit. NFTE teaches those age 11 or older to think and act like entrepreneurs, demonstrating such skills as initiative and self-reliance, flexibility and adaptability, critical thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration, creativity and innovation, opportunity recognition, and future orientation. These skillsets can lead to success in any career.
“Encouraging, supporting and advising the next generation of entrepreneurs is something that we are passionate about at NFTE, and it’s inspiring to see successful entrepreneurs like Rob Dyrdek looking for ways to pay it forward,” said NFTE President and CEO Dr. J.D. LaRock.
LaRock thanks Dyrdek and his foundation for their “continued support and for giving our students a platform to present their ideas and interact with influencers. We’re proud to share our love for activating the entrepreneurial mindset in youth who dare to dream big and are willing to put in the time building their startup skills.”
Visit NFTE.com to learn more about the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge (occurring in 2022 on Oct. 13 in New York City). For information on the next DODVF See It, Believe It, Do It Challenge, visit dyrdekmachine.com.
Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is a global nonprofit organization that provides high-quality entrepreneurship education to middle and high school students from under-resourced communities, as well as programs for college students and adults. NFTE reaches 50,000+ students annually in 25 states across the U.S. and offers programs in 18 additional countries. We have educated more than a million students through in-school, out-of-school, college, and summer camp programs, offered in person and online. To learn more about how we are promoting inclusive capitalism and building the next generation of diverse entrepreneurs, visit www.nfte.com.
Denise Berkhalter, APR
NFTE National Communications Director