Igniting the entrepreneurial spirit through Ernst & Young’s Adopt-a-Class

March 18, 2013  |  23 comments

Ernst & Young LLP McLean Assurance Manager Josh Dodds celebrates with Annandale High School student Lewis Folli after he won second place in the NFTE Final Business Plan Competition for the Washington DC/Metro Region for his YSC: Yard Sale Coordinators business.By: Ernst & Young LLP's McLean Tax Partner John Domenick

When I joined the Ernst & Young organization in 1999, the mindset of corporate responsibility stood out to me in every aspect of our business. Intrigued, impressed, excited — those were the words that came to mind when I was first introduced to Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) and its mission. After relocating to McLean, Virginia, in 2011, I got involved with the local high school class Ernst & Young LLP  had recently adopted through NFTE's Adopt-a-Class program. I became leader of our Adopt-a-Class program shortly thereafter, recognizing its alignment with the firm's community engagement efforts.

Through this program, Ernst & Young LLP volunteers attend classes at Annandale High School in Fairfax County on a monthly basis to teach the students lessons on business subjects and help coach the students in business plan competitions. Our team of volunteers consists of different levels, roles and backgrounds. I’m proud to see how they enter the classroom excited and passionate to work with the students. This program would not be possible without the positive energy and dedication of the whole team.

My favorite part of the program is seeing the students progress throughout the year. They ask provocative questions and seem to be fully engaged while we are in the classroom. My most rewarding moment was when one of the students I judged in a fall competition took the constructive feedback to revise his business plan and presentation. He went on to win second place in the regional spring competition just a few months later.

Not only does this program provide a way for the students to shine as young entrepreneurs, it also presents an opportunity for our professionals to stand out as volunteers. McLean Assurance Manager Josh Dodds has been an integral team member and coach to the students. He was recently recognized within Ernst & Young LLP  on our national Volunteer Wall of Fame, which recognizes volunteers that go above and beyond. His passion for the program even led him to get involved with the NFTE Young Ambassadors Council,a group of Washington, DC, professionals focused on improving public education and building NFTE’s regional brand in the Washington metro area.
I would highly encourage Adopt-a-Class to companies looking for a way to give back to the local community. This NFTE program allows us to build a better working world by helping entrepreneurs who are bringing great new ideas to the marketplace every day.

Special thanks to the entire Ernst & Young NFTE Adopt-a-Class team: Linda L. Abu-Saleh, Chad Custer, Kathryn Delli-Colli, Josh Dodds, Vikram Choudhary, Prachee R. Kale, Peter King, Mohammad Kohistani, Sean Moran and Megan L. Varani.

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