NFTE Joins White House Campaign to Accelerate National Innovation Strategy, Chicago Alum Zoe Damacela to Speak at Ceremony, Tell Her Entrepreneurial Success Story

WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 31, 2011 – The White House has named the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) a member of the Startup America Partnership. Startup America is a public/private effort bringing together an alliance of the country’s most innovative entrepreneurs, corporations, universities, foundations, and other leaders, working in concert with a wide range of federal agencies to dramatically increase the prevalence and success of American entrepreneurs. NFTE Founder Steve Mariotti and NFTE Chicago alum, Northwestern University student and entrepreneur, Zoe Damacela, will be on hand at the formal launch event in Washington D.C. to help celebrate at the partnership launch.

The Startup America Partnership (www.startupamericapartnership.org) will marshal private resources to scale up a portfolio of proven models at every stage of the innovation funnel, from the first stirrings of entrepreneurial ambition to the market success of a new firm. One of the core outcomes of the effort is to expand entrepreneurship education and mentorship programs that empower more Americans not just to get a job, but to create jobs.

“When I launched NFTE nearly 25 years ago, it was with one simple belief, that learning basic business principles at an early age is the best anti-poverty program of all. NFTE is proud to be a member of the Startup America Partnership and contribute to the White House’s goal of building an entrepreneurial ecosystem that will strengthen the America economy immediately and make it more resilient for years to come,” said Steve Mariotti, NFTE’s Founder.

As part of its commitment to Startup America, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship announces new programs supporting young entrepreneurs and innovative teaching and learning efforts.

As the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) and Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year® Program each approach their 25th anniversaries, Ernst & Young LLP is extending its long-term support of entrepreneurship with NFTE. NFTE youth entrepreneurs will be honored at Ernst & Young LLP regional Entrepreneur Of The Year® Awards galas across the country, bringing important attention to the next generation of young entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurship education efforts of NFTE that inspire young people to recognize opportunity and launch small enterprises. Maria Pinelli, Americas Director, Strategic Growth Markets at Ernst & Young LLP, has also joined the Board of Directors of NFTE. Additionally, Ernst & Young LLP is placing a professional on each of NFTE's Regional Advisory Boards across the country and providing NFTE with significant financial support and volunteer resources in each of its offices.

“Ernst & Young believes strongly in the power of entrepreneurship and innovation as a vehicle to strengthen our communities and economy,” said Pinelli. “We’ve been supporting entrepreneurs for 25 years through our Entrepreneur Of The Year awards, and could not be more proud to support the missions of NFTE and Startup America to encourage entrepreneurs – from the most established to the youngest, most aspiring.”

The Pearson Foundation is working with NFTE to build its Digital Teacher Network – a free online community for teacher collaboration and training that will be used not only by NFTE’s 5000 certified teachers but also by any educator interested in entrepreneurship. This online extension of NFTE’s award winning program will dramatically increase the impact of entrepreneurship education can have on young people by allowing all teachers to infuse the basic lessons of entrepreneurship education – innovation, critical thinking and opportunity recognition – into their classrooms.

“NFTE’s new Digital Teacher Network will help NFTE’s existing network of certified teachers to share ideas and work together to extend NFTE’s classroom-tested entrepreneurship curriculum in new ways,” said Pearson Foundation President Mark Nieker. “Just as important, this dynamic social network will help scale NFTE’s success by making it possible to share their innovative approach to developing basic business skills with a whole new group of teachers and school leaders across the country.”

NFTE’s Start Up Summer program will enable its most promising students to incubate their ideas and dreams. The program will focus on three elements: business mentorship, access to capital, and operational goal setting and accountability. Beginning with “Ignition Week” the young entrepreneurs will set individual goals, further develop their business plans and formally launch their enterprises. Then throughout the summer they will meet with volunteers and mentors to track progress and trouble shoot problems. Mentors will continue to work with the students throughout the following school year and NFTE will provide an accountability framework for the student entrepreneurs. Funding for the summer 2011 pilot program was generously provided by the Seedlings Foundation and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Google is sponsoring two new efforts in NFTE’s Bay Area programs. The Flat Classroom Exchange will allow Bay Area teachers to team teach the NFTE program in real time and leverage each teacher’s individual expertise on concepts such as opportunity recognition, return on investment and economics of one unit. The second project will bring together the invention and engineering lessons of Makers Class curriculum and the entrepreneurship and business focus of NFTE. Bay Area students will learn the valuable connection between thinking creatively and practically in the process of creating a product and bringing it to market.

With seed capital from New Markets Venture Partners, the leading education technology venture capital company, NFTE will launch an interactive, online business planning course and social network to connect mentors, teachers and students. “We are excited to make this commitment to NFTE and Startup America that will allow NFTE’s proven methodology to reach countless young people in an accessible and fun way and excite them about entrepreneurship and their education,” said Mark Govic from New Markets Venture Partners.

“NFTE is simply thrilled that at this critical time for the U.S. economy, the White House is recognizing and validating the importance of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship education. With all net new jobs over the last 30 years attributed to startups, this is an initiative that will pay huge dividends for decades to come,” said Amy Rosen, President and CEO of NFTE.