Washington, D.C. (June 13, 2023) – Global entrepreneurship education nonprofit Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) has named three local student businesses as the winners of its annual Capital Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. The young entrepreneurs distinguished themselves through innovative business ideas, which they will present at the national finals in New York on October 3 to compete for the National Champion title and cash prizes from a pool of $18,000.

Competitors pitched their original business concepts to a panel of esteemed judges, Anne Balduzzi, Managing Director of Entrepreneur & Ecosystem Empowerment at TEDCO; Mary Blackford, NFTE alumna & Founder of Market 7; Keith James, Managing Partner at Coalition Properties Group; Keerthi Santosh Varier, Assistant Director, Ernst & Young LLP, who selected a first-place winner to receive $1,500, a second-place winner to receive $1,000 and a third-place winner to receive $500. The winners are:

  • 1st Place: Carter Lawson from Francis Scott Key Elementary Middle School in Baltimore with Odorase, a non-toxic, non-flammable, lightly scented odor eliminator.
  • 2nd Place: Rommie Hooper from Frederick Douglass High School in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, with Compel Comics, a comic book publisher that focuses on character development, audience inclusion and relatable real-world adversities.
  • 3rd Place: Jkahi Booker from Edmondson Westside High School in Baltimore with Photo Rely, an affordable photo/video editing service.

“We are so proud of these brilliant young minds and in awe of their commitment to entrepreneurship and making a difference in this world,” said Dr. J.D. LaRock, CEO of NFTE. “Through their creativity and original ideas, our students demonstrate the power of their generation to transform their communities. When young people are given a platform to sharpen their skills and rise to their full potential, our economy and society thrive.”

The NFTE Capital Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge was presented by Ernst & Young LLP (EY US), with associate support from Whiteford and the Citi Foundation.

For media inquiries regarding NFTE, please contact Vanessa Hsia at 929-551-3813 or [email protected]; or Denise Berkhalter at 917-281-4362 or [email protected].

About NFTE

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) ignites the entrepreneurial mindset with unique learning experiences that empower students to own their futures. A global nonprofit founded in 1987, NFTE provides high-quality entrepreneurship education to middle school, high school and postsecondary students. NFTE brings the power of entrepreneurship to students, regardless of family income, community resources, special needs, gender identity, race, or ethnicity. NFTE has educated more than a million students, delivering our programs in school, out of school, in-person, online, or through hybrid models. Visit nfte.com to learn more.