Digital entrepreneurship education helping solve youth unemployment in Florida

October 8, 2013  |  9 comments


NFTE South Florida is using Knight Foundation support to prepare students from low-income communities for today’s work landscape through technology.

By Alice Horn, Executive Director, NFTE South Florida

NFTE student utilizing technology in our curriculum

In Florida, the rate of unemployment for young people ages 16-24 is a staggering 16 percent.  This is due in part to a lack of the professional technological skills that employers are looking for in new hires. NFTE will begin addressing this deficiency by launching a digital classroom initiative this fall. The program, supported by Knight Foundation, engages 600 young people from low-income communities in a technology-enabled youth entrepreneurship network.

In celebration of Knight Foundation’s statement of support and Miami Dade County Public Schools ongoing commitment to technology and entrepreneurship, NFTE will be hosting Crack the Code, a virtual business plan pitch presentation breakfast, with key note remarks from Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

The program’s goal is to build a new generation of informed entrepreneurial citizens. These young people will essentially create their own jobs as entrepreneurs while learning the technological skills needed in today’s marketplace.

Building on NFTE’s core curriculum, the digital classroom will connect students with their peers in other parts of the country and the world, with entrepreneurship educators, and with the business community. Specifically, students will utilize digital tools, such as videoconferencing software and social networks, to learn entrepreneurial skills like feasibility and market research as well as perfect their own business plan.

Program Director Chris Brignolle virtually coaching students.

NFTE alumnus Andres Cardona is a perfect example of the transformative power of entrepreneurship education. Andres was inspired to launch his business when he enrolled in the program at the age of only 16. His mother had just lost her job, and Andres felt compelled to help support his family.

An avid basketball player, he turned to what he knew best. He began to develop his business idea, the Elite Basketball Academy. “I wanted to let other kids who've gone through trauma in life to have an outlet for their problems.” Students in the Elite Basketball Academy range in age from 8 to 18. The program focuses on teaching the fundamentals of basketball and physical fitness.

Currently, Andres, 20, is studying finance at Florida International University while continuing to run the academy, which has more than 120 students enrolled. Andres is supporting himself and his education while contributing to his family’s income through his NFTE business.

Recently NFTE released The NFTE Difference,” an alumni survey which confirms our impact on many more young people like Andres. Nearly 1,300 U.S. alumni ages 13 to 28 responded to the survey, demonstrating the program has a powerful impact that extends into the workforce and business ownership. In fact, 88 percent of high school graduates who have entered the program are employed compared to 69 percent for the U.S. population (Current Population Survey 2012). NFTE alumni are twice as likely to be self-employed entrepreneurs as the general population. On top of that, alumni earn over 50 percent more than their peers, and even more when they work for themselves.

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship is the only global nonprofit organization solely focused on bringing entrepreneurship education to low-income youth. The South Florida office, which is based in Miami, was launched in 2006 and has served more than 20,000 youth. With active programs in nine countries and 21 U.S. states, NFTE impacts the lives of nearly 50,000 young people worldwide each year. Working through Title 1 schools in low-income communities, NFTE’s mission is to provide programs that inspire young people to stay in school, to recognize business opportunities and to plan for successful futures.

To learn more about NFTE South Florida, email us at

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