NFTE Grows as Demand for Entrepreneurial Skills Increases in K-12 Education

An increasing number of schools across the United States introduce entrepreneurship into their course offerings and curricula, with NFTE seeing a 30% increase in students served this year.

Trends in education demonstrate that K–12 schools are embracing entrepreneurship education. 42 states now report K–12 standards, guidelines, or proficiencies in entrepreneurial education—a dramatic rise from only 19 states in 2009. The National Research Council released an extensive literature review in 2012 demonstrating that entrepreneurial skills, such as creative problem solving and collaboration, are important to academic success. A report by the D.C. Children and Youth Investment Corporation went even further, concluding that entrepreneurship education “improved academic performance, school attendance, and educational attainment.”

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), passed in 2015, makes room for the teaching of non-cognitive and socio-emotional skills, such as the skills that drive an entrepreneurial mindset. ESSA requires states to build into their accountability systems at least one additional measure of school quality and student performance, beyond traditional academic outcomes.

These trends in education respond to the opportunities inherent in an innovation economy, where the ability to be creative and flexible—whether as an employee or as entrepreneur —is essential to success. Today more than 90% of employers identify entrepreneurial skills as “very important,” and 1 in 3 employers seek entrepreneurial experience in hires.

“In order to prepare young people for the innovation economy, we must teach the entrepreneurial mindset,” says Shawn Osborne, President & CEO at NFTE. “It is wonderful to see entrepreneurship being taught in more and more schools, and to see the positive effect that this has on student achievement and on students’ lives. I could not be more excited about the future.”

NFTE has seen first-hand the increased demand for teaching entrepreneurial skills at K–12 level. In response, we expanded our course offerings to create the NFTE Entrepreneurship Pathway serving middle-school and high-school students. Nearly 35,000 students across the nation participate in NFTE programs, and a pilot of a new advanced NFTE entrepreneurship course is underway across seven regions.

This year alone, 30% more students are enrolled in NFTE courses as compared to last school year. NFTE’s growth is being powered by the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation’s multi-million investments in NFTE’s vision to create an entrepreneurial generation of young people.

NFTE is proud to be a resource for a growing number of schools across the nation. Recent data demonstrates that NFTE alumni succeed in the workplace, starting businesses, and furthering their education.
• 86% of NFTE alumni are either employed or pursuing further education.
• One in four alumni have started at least one business.
• One in three NFTE alumni who are college graduates earn more than the national median of $60,000.

Anecdotally, students tell us that participating in NFTE helps them to see themselves as innovators and to build the confidence to share and develop their ideas.

“Before NFTE, we never explored our creative side. We focused solely on academics and not how to apply what we learned to real-life situations and helping others,” says NFTE alum Ashley Marin. “NFTE taught me how to create something from nothing. I learned that I can create my own opportunities and I can be an innovator,” says NFTE alum Anthony Harmon.

As NFTE grows, we are thrilled to expand our management team to support greater impact in greater numbers. For the first time, NFTE will have a dedicated Vice President for Programs and another for Research, reflecting the organization’s commitment to continuously improving curriculum and using data to drive those improvements. NFTE welcomes:

Jenny Bradbury, Vice President, Programs
Jenny joined NFTE in 2015 as Career Pathways Strategy Director. She has overseen the creation of the NFTE Entrepreneurship Pathway, and she leads the design of NFTE programs to best serve the needs of students, teachers, and districts.

Thomas Gold, Vice President, Research
Tom came to NFTE 4 years ago from the Research Alliance for New York City Schools. He leads NFTE’s work to create the first Entrepreneurial Mindset Index (EMI) for youth—a formative assessment measuring entrepreneurial attitudes and behaviors.

As partner investments are integral to NFTE’s ability to respond to an increasing demand for entrepreneurship education, NFTE also expands its partnerships team, welcoming:

Jane Walsh, Vice President, Development
Jane returns to NFTE after having previously worked at NFTE for nearly 16 years! Throughout her career, she has developed a strategic ability to align an organization’s mission and programs with the interests of charitable investors in ways that impact the lives of youth and measurable value.

Jane reports to Dan Delany, Senior Vice President, Strategy and External Relations, who spearheads NFTE’s growth strategy.

The team here at NFTE is so excited to expand our work as we aim to activate the entrepreneurial mindset of an entire generation.