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High School Students Will Compete For Top Prize

in October in New York City


New YorkNY – August 11, 2009 – The Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), an international non-profit organization dedicated to nurturing entrepreneurship among youth in low-income communities, announced today 27 student finalists who will compete for top honors in the 2009 OppenheimerFunds/NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, presented by Kathryn W. Davis.  Ranging in age from 13 – 19, these top finishers in regional and local contests will present their business plans to a panel of distinguished judges and vie for a $10,000 grand prize during the competition in New York City on October 7th.


The 27 finalists, whose business ideas range from food products to academic tutoring to web design services, are:


Texas – Dallas – Kalissa Armstrong, David W. Carter High School

Texas – Dallas – Angela Mojica, H. Grady Spruce High School


California – Carson – Kalief Rollins, Downey High School

California – Fresno – Brandon Duran, Hoover High School

California – Los Angeles – Jacqueline Garcia, Soledad Enrichment Action Firestone Academy

California – San Leandro – Alejandra Bonilla, San Leandro High School


Connecticut – Hartford – Danny Huynh, Sport & Medical Sciences Academy

Connecticut – Norwalk – Mariah James, Norwalk High School


Florida – Miami – Stephanie Traber, Miami Southridge Senior High

Florida – West Palm Beach – Clynisha Clark, DeGeorge Boys & Girls Club

Florida – West Palm Beach – Brianna Hollins, West Palm Beach Boys & Girls Club


Georgia – Atlanta – Zicuria Ussery, Maynard Holbrook Jackson High


Illinois – Chicago – Corey Barksdale, Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy

Illinois – Chicago – Zoe Damacela, Whitney Young High School


Kansas – Topeka – Cassondra Sapata-Smith, Topeka High School


Ohio – Cleveland –Alisha Wiggins, John Hay Campus High School


New York – Staten Island –Kevin Abernethy, Curtis High School

New York – White Plains – Angie Ocampo, White Plains High School

New York – Yonkers – Erika Miguel, Liberty LEADS


Maryland – Baltimore – Alayna Alberti, Mother Seton Academy

Maryland – Riverdale – Kyle Calavetinos, Parkdale High School

Maryland – Baltimore – Keenen Geter, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Maryland – Laurel – Jada Nicome, Northwestern High School


Massachusetts – New Bedford – Scott Paiva, New Bedford High School


Pennsylvania – Pittsburgh – Lana Baslan, Taylor Allderice High School

Pennsylvania –    Pittsburgh – Tressa Nemcik, McKeesport Senior High School

Pennsylvania –    Philadelphia – Hilary Small, George Washington High School


South Carolina – Rock Hill – Thomas Brown, Rock Hill High School


“We congratulate all of the finalists,” said Steve Mariotti, founder of NFTE.  “These are some of our nation’s best and brightest young entrepreneurs, and they’re all proving that economic challenges are no barrier to dreaming up an idea for creating future wealth.”


The 27 finalists completed a semester- or year-long program designed by NFTE.  They received hands-on training in launching a business and, through the process, learned the real-life relevance of math, reading and writing; reinforced their critical thinking skills, and received tools for helping them control their futures and avoid the lure of the streets.  Scientific research by Harvard University has shown that youth who are taught entrepreneurship are more likely to be focused on academics and develop leadership aspirations.


“The NFTE program offers a way to define a teen’s identity,” said Amy Rosen, President and CEO of NFTE. “It also addresses the vital need for innovative ideas for closing our nation’s achievement gap among inner-city youth. We are extremely proud of all of the finalists, and we look forward to seeing them achieve great things in both higher education and business.”


This fall in conjunction with Global Entrepreneurship Week, a documentary entitled TEN9EIGHT which chronicles the inspirational stories of last year’s National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge will be commercially released by award-winning filmmaker Mary Mazzio. The film aims to inspire not only teens – but also educators, policy makers, and thought leaders who can see firsthand the powerful change that entrepreneurship education can have on disenfranchised young people.


About NFTE

The Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE, pronounced “nifty”) provides entrepreneurship education programs to young people from low-income communities. NFTE’s vision is that every young person will find a pathway to prosperity. Since 1987, NFTE has worked with more than 280,000 young people. NFTE currently operates

programs in 22 states and 12 countries outside the United States and has over 1,300 active Certified Entrepreneurship Teachers. For more information, visit




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