Considered one of today’s leading experts in education for at-risk youth, Steve Mariotti changed career paths in 1982 when he decided to move from the corporate sector and become a special education teacher in the New York City school system. Mr. Mariotti’s first assignment was in the East New York section of Brooklyn, and his last was in the Fort Apache section of the South Bronx.
While teaching in this hard-hitting environment for six and one half years, Mr. Mariotti gained insight into how to successfully motivate his tough students – teaching them how to run a business. His perceptions and learnings inspired him to create a program to bring entrepreneurial education to low-income youth. In 1987 the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was formed.
Now, 25 years later, NFTE’s mission is to provide entrepreneurship education programs to young people from low income communities. The program has a proven track record of success. It is frequently used as a model for other programs to teach business knowledge and the resulting business formation. NFTE has reached 500,000 young people since its founding and has programs in 18 states and 9 other countries.
Mr. Mariotti is a 2012 inductee into the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the Bernard A. Goldhirsh Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the New York Enterprise Report's 2012 Founders Award for Social Entrepreneurship, the National Director’s Entrepreneurship Award from the Minority Business Development Agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Association of Education Publishers’ Golden Lamp Award for the best curriculum in America in 2002 and 2010's best curriculum in math for the 11th edition of NFTE's Entrepreneurship: Owning Your Future, the ACE/Currie Foundation Humanitarian Venture Award, the USASBE Entrepreneurship Educator of the Year, the CEO Club’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year, and America’s Top High School Business Teacher. He has been the subject of many national media profiles on programs including ABC Evening News and 20/20. In addition, he is the co-author of 28 books on entrepreneurship that have sold over one million copies. NFTE is an active member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Mr. Mariotti has attended The World Economic Forum and has been a frequent speaker at Davos as well as other business forums.
A native son of Michigan, Mr. Mariotti received his B.B.A. in business economics and his M.B.A. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He has also studied at Harvard University, Stanford University, and Brooklyn College. He started his professional career as a treasury analyst for Ford Motor Company before founding his own company, Mason Import/Export Services. Steve is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. Check out his column here.