NFTE Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge


Competitive events that motivate and inspire are a cornerstone of the NFTE experience. First year NFTE students enrolled in a classroom-based Entrepreneurship 1 or Owning Your Future course (or select summer intensives) are eligible to compete in NFTE’s Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, a series of local, regional and national business plan and pitch competitions where students can put their entrepreneurship skills to the test.

Every year tens of thousands of students in dozens of states across the U.S. take their first step on the road to our annual national competition by participating in a NFTE classroom or camp pitch competition. Those classroom winners qualify to enter the regional quarterfinal rounds of the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in their part of the country. Winners of regional quarterfinals then advance to the regional semifinals, and winners of regional semifinals advance to the regional finals. The first and second place winners in each regional final qualify to move on to national competition, where they vie for bigger prize awards as they go up against the best young entrepreneurs from across the country.

Each competition round is judged by a distinguished panel of experts that includes business leaders and successful entrepreneurs who’ve volunteered their time to support NFTE students.

Prize packages vary from year to year, based on sponsorships, but every regional and national finalist wins seed capital that can be used to grow an existing business, launch a new business, or pursue educational goals. During last year’s Challenge series, NFTE awarded more than $200,000 in prize money overall. The 2018 National Challenge Winner, Kelsey Johnson of Los Angeles, took home $15,000 in prize money to expand her business and attend college.

Follow the 2019 Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge online at

  • Recent Winners and Finalists
  • NFTE Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge Hall of Fame