By Autumn Celeste Edwards, Assistant Vice President & Store Manager, TD Bank
Since being founded in 1987, the Network for Teaching (NFTE) has grown from a drop-out prevention program in one New York City high school to a comprehensive global youth development program that uses entrepreneurship education as a key lever. Today, NFTE is widely viewed as a global leader in youth entrepreneurship, with programs in 21 states and 13 foreign countries. Since 1987, NFTE has served over 500,000 young people worldwide and since launching in Washington, D.C. in 1994, has reached nearly 25,000 young people locally.
I am a TD Bank Store Manager in Washington D.C. and have been an active volunteer with NFTE since learning of the organization during a loan closing with a client. I was explaining TD’s volunteer activities and active commitment to local communities and the client began sharing information on NFTE.
I immediately fell in love with the organization’s mission to promote an entrepreneurial spirit and sense of accomplishment for underprivileged youth. Inspired by the talent NFTE is developing and moved by the growth and opportunity being created for the children and young adults in the program, I knew I had to become an active participant in the program.
Through volunteering, I have watched students become instilled with the belief that they can succeed in business. Through the mentorship provided by the program, I have been touched by the enthusiasm of the board members, teachers, and mentors and consider myself emotionally invested in the program thanks to the passion of the participants and the value it brings to the students.
After witnessing the program’s Elevator Pitch Competition, in which students present a three minute business pitch to a panel of judges, I was impressed at the level of business acumen the students possessed. One speaker in particular, a NFTE alum, shared his own experiences as a presenter in last year’s Elevator Pitch competition and described the challenges he was able to overcome as a student in NFTE. I was touched by his story and impressed by his drive. The speaker, Jordon Brooks, was a standout during his time in NFTE. Brooks won the D.C. area Business Plan Competition in 2012 and was awarded “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2013 through NFTE.
Autumn and NFTE alum Jordon Brooks
In March 2013, I reached out to NFTE to let the organization know that a teller position was available. Brooks applied. Humbled and inspired by his ambition at our first meeting during the Elevator Pitch Competition, I knew Brooks would be a standout candidate but had no idea how perfect he would be for the role.
Today, as teller, Brooks has continued to impress his supervisors with his work ethic and know-how. As a true success story of NFTE, he is a champion for TD Bank’s continued involvement with the program.
I continue to volunteer in other competitions and even served as a judge in the 2013 business pitch semi-finals along with another TD Bank colleague. Because of my work in the organization and the relationships I’ve built, the TD Charitable Foundation has learned of NFTE and provided grants to the organization in 2012 and 2013.
With big plans for NFTE, including deepening the NFTE relationship through my own networking with local leaders, I’m only at the beginning of my work and efforts on behalf of this cause. I’ll continue to volunteer and actively hire NFTE program alums, ensuring that Brooks will be one of many success stories to be shared by TD Bank and NFTE.
Learn more about volunteering with NFTE here.