NFTE Summer 2011
After a great experience at the Launch Event last week, I shifted my focus to helping Krista with a few projects for an upcoming Advisory Board retreat she is putting together. The event is going to be held on August 26th and will be used to gather everyone on the Advisory Board with a goal of making NFTE Bay Area a better functioning organization.
I had to use SurveyMonkey to create a survey to be sent out to the Advisory Board members prior to the event on the 26th. The survey included ten questions asking for feedback covering everything about NFTE Bay Area. The A.B. is considered to be a great network and valuable resource for implementing ideas. Each survey was created to be anonymous with the hope that the A.B. would not hold back and give their unaltered advice. The questions asked covered: strengths/weaknesses of the organization, activity ideas for the 26th, communication efforts, advice for NFTE staff, personal definitions of what NFTE stands for, etc.
After fourteen responses, I was able to create a summary of the results in an excel document. Each question had many responses that shared the same idea/belief. The A.B. showed their support and praise throughout the survey and were very proud to be a part of NFTE. They were all supportive of the work that was coming out the NFTE Bay Area office and especially proud of the work coming from Executive Director, Krista Katsantonis.
NFTE Bay Area is working hard towards extending their reach into more Bay Area regions by targeting more entrepreneurs and technology companies that call the Bay Area home. With that goal in mind, I helped put together a mailing list for all of the 2011 Ernst & Young Northwest region finalists for Entrepreneur of the Year. Each of the finalists contributes a huge economic impact all across the Bay Area by promoting resources and sustainability. The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards began 25 years ago and is a true celebration of “the world’s most influential and innovative entrepreneurs”. Crystal Vo, an NFTE Bay Area alumni was honored at the awards night for her work with Sweet Tooth Bites and was given the Ernst & Young scholarship.
Students like Crystal Vo are indicators that NFTE Bay Area is heading on the right direction towards their mission. Crystal, of San Jose, had the opportunity to meet with President Obama in the Oval Office after becoming a finalist in a competition for high school students (pictured below – left of President Obama). Crystal entered her Business Plan in the 2010 Oppenhiemer Funds Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship challenge and received third place after winning the NFTE regional competition. Her business, Sweet Tooth Bites, makes bite size cakes that are covered in chocolate. Crystal was awarded $3500 and two round trip tickets from Southwest to expand her business or to put towards her college education.
She has plans of giving a percentage of sales back to NFTE. During the final pitch she recognized their strong support, “NFTE has given me so many opportunities to grow and to believe in myself. One day I want to help another young person have the same opportunities.”
Below is a video clip of Krista presenting Crystal at the 2011 Ernst & Young awards. (video clip coming).
Ideas to Operation is an accelerated program designed for NFTE alumni students to start a business or to take their business to the next level. The program starts with Launch Week, a four day workshop where mentors and seasoned entrepreneurs work directly with the I2O participants. Over the four days, the young entrepreneurs are put through building workshops with the goal of launching their business on day four. Some alumni came to Launch Week with an established business, some came with a blank slate and created a new business, while other students came in with a business in mind and decided to make a pivot towards a more realistic business.
I was able to come down to San Francisco, participate in the workshop and view all of the pitches on Thursday July 21st. The day was broken down into two segments. From 1-5pm, students used the thier time to finalize and polish their business plans, improve their websites and practice their pitches. Although some students did not seem ready, not a single student seemed nervous or anxious about the pitch they were about to give from 5-7pm. NFTE gathered around 40 established entrepreneurs, mentors and supporters to view all seven of the students pitches.
During the workshop I was able to meet all seven participants and hear a quick summary about their business. After a brief introduction and announcement of the activities for the day, each student broke off into groups of two with a mentor. I was able to work with an aspiring music producer, DeShawn Davis. His business, Dream Ear Productions was founded in 2004 after he decided to turn his love for music and creating instrumentals into business. He recently completed the construction of his personal studio where he creates beats and offers studio space for up and coming artists. During our session, I helped DeShawn with the esthetics of his website and tried to understand the brainchild behind his business. He is a bright young man and I expect big things to come in the future.
All seven of the participants completed their pitch following the day long workshop. For many of the students, it was the first time they gave a pitch to a crowd of that size. After each student gave their pitch, the room at NextSpace SF turned into a small gathering and a great opportunity for networking.
Attending this event was extremely valuable, as I was able to get my first inside look at NFTE Bay Area in action. The research and ground work that I created over the last couple weeks now started to come full circle as I witnessed the true spirit of what NFTE is all about. Many mentors and supporters volunteered their time throughout the week to help these young entrepreneurs start a business and achieve their goals. The entire NFTE staff was very organized and led a powerful workshop by allowing the entrepreneurs to do their own work while standing close for assistance. It was great to finally meet the entire NFTE Bay Area staff: Krista- Executive Director, Evelyn- Program Manager and Kandle- Program Director.
Click to watch NFTE Launch Week video, created by Abe Cajudo.
The first thing I wanted to do before getting started with NFTE was to establish a solid grasp about what NFTE Bay Area is all about. They are a service based organization with a vision of changing the mindset and lives of high school students in low-income communities through entrepreneurship education. After a quick look around their Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/NFTE-Bay-Area/127827712066, and other various news articles, it is evident their aim is to engage the community. NFTE Bay Area is making an effort to reach out to the business/entrepreneur community and have them incorporated into events through mentoring, judging and volunteering.
After my first conversation with Krista, I knew she was going to be a great person to work with. Her endearing voice and willingness to involve me with everything that the organization is working on made me feel welcome and a part of the team immediately. She outlined a snapshot for the activities and projects I can expect to be involved over the next few months. The following is the ground work outlined for my time with NFTE Bay Area.
The effort is to deliver the most concise and well represented message to all potential supporters. Bay Area technology companies are the target supporter because they fit well with the purpose and vision of innovating technology into more classrooms. I began to brainstorm ways we can increase the activity of the average supporter as well as creating a management database for new and existing supporters. Keeping the individual supporters engaged and excited is a priority. What is going to be the best way to stay in contact with these different level supporters? I have experience using MailChimp to manage various campaigns that can be sent to mass support groups.
I will be in charge of creating an up to date expense report that can be easily viewed throughout any given day. I will start this project in about six weeks. I believe a system can be put into place by having all three employees send me a quick email with the invoice of each new purchase. I will then record and categorize each expense and have the report ready by the following morning.
My vision for the website has a section dedicated to those directly involved. Each student, teacher, and staff member will have a profile page where they can upload personal information, pictures and events, etc.
Students can upload their 30 second pitch and receive online feedback from teachers, advisors, VC’s while having the opportunity to view other students pitches.
“Wind up” section
Online courses are available in this section to allow students to stay up to date if they cannot attend every class. This will also be a great section for those students who may need to hear things a second time if some topics were not completely clear to them the first. The goal is to maximize the time spent learning from teachers and advisers.
Lessons can be categorized for easy access (date, topic, etc.)
Within each lesson there can be an area for student and teacher feedback. This will allow students to get answers to their questions outside of class, without waiting until the next time they see their teacher.
Students will also have an opportunity to upload videos within the feedback section to ask their question or to showcase their understanding of a current topic.
Live Streaming: Students will have an opportunity to post feedback/ videos during class and get instant feedback as if they were present in the classroom.
“Stay on base” section
This section will outline all classes, events and tasks for students to track their progress. Students get to check off each event, class and task completed, which will allow teachers to have a complete database of student involvement. All of the attended events, classes and tasks completed will show on the student profile page and will be a fun way for students to increase their involvement and built up their profile page.
“Wind up” – The lead up to the pitch which includes in class and online lessons.
“Pitch” – Ball or strike? Feedback from teachers and advisors will allow students to understand whether their pitch is in the desired strike zone. A strike means that it is good, but it is only one pitch, and will emphasize that students need multiple strikes to succeed. A ball is outside of the strike zone and may need some work, and will help them focus on delivering the next pitch within the strike zone.
“Run the bases” – Outlining events, classes and tasks will help students to keep advancing on the base paths.
I plan on expanding the ideas from the ground work (above) into actionable steps that can be implemented during my time with NFTE Bay Area.
Public Service Internship Program (PSIP)
Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Bay Area
My name is Clint Pekarsky and I am a Finance major entering my senior year at the University of San Francisco. The college adventure is a process that enables students to find the true meaning of self. It is a time designed for growth and prosperity that is an accumulation of knowledge and refined skills. My involvement in competitive sports has taught me hard work, accompanied with strong drive, is the catalyst for limitless ambition and achieving your goals. The Public Service Internship Program (PSIP) gives me an opportunity to expand my business knowledge and refine my skill set through community involvement. I want to thank Dr. Monika Hudson as well as the University of San Francisco for giving me an opportunity to reach my goals and support my efforts in making my dreams a reality. I am pleased to announce I will be working with Krista Katsantonis, Executive Director of NFTE Bay Area this summer through the Public Service Internship Program.
Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE, pronounced “nifty”) was founded in New York City in 1987 by Steve Mariotti. A career path change, lead Mr. Mariotti to teaching in the rough neighborhood of East New York. While teaching in New York City, he noticed a major flaw in the education system. Students were dropping out of high school at an alarming rate. Teaching in challenging environments gave Mr. Mariotti insight on how to motivate and support students to understand the importance of high school curriculum. His entrepreneurial experience and savvy street smarts lead him to start teaching economically at-risk students how to start and operate their own business. He was able to foster a deep connection with his students enabling them to see how school knowledge can be applied to real world settings. A few years after he started teaching in New York City, NFTE was born.
NFTE is now a global non-profit, active in 12 countries around the world, which inspires young people to stay in school, recognize business opportunities and plan for successful futures. NFTE fosters the creation of small businesses and the development of a business-savvy workforce that ultimately promote America’s long-term economic stability. The program is based on the essence of experimental learning, and has served over 350,000 students around the world. Many consider NFTE an “anti-poverty program” by showing students the importance of learning basic business skills and principles of how to start a business. Students learn to use economic markets to build their communities, to help their families, and themselves get out of poverty. Through NFTE, teachers and mentors show students why math, writing, reading and research skills are important. They use a hands-on approach that incorporates all of these skills into the development of an original business plan. NFTE helps young people see their futures, including the importance of graduating high school in a different, positive way.
I am excited to be working with NFTE Bay Area. Started in 1994, it has reached over 10,000 students from low-income communities with entrepreneurship education programs. This blog will track my weekly progress with NFTE. I will share my involvement from website design and support, to fundraising, marketing and expense tracking. Stay tuned for exciting news and updates!