Students win $3,000 in Shark Tank-style pitch competition and advance to national finals

Washington, DC, June 12, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Global entrepreneurship education nonprofit Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) has named four 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 10 to compete for the National Champion title and cash prizes.

Competitors pitched their original business concepts to a panel of esteemed judges, including NFTE alumna Jan Baker, Experience and Service Designer at the Innovashion Group; Anthony Calderazzi, Assurance Partner at Ernst & Young LLP (EY US); Andrew J. Sherman, Partner at Brown Rudnick Inc; Danielle Vogel, Assistant Director of the Veloric Center for Entrepreneurship at American University; and Tim Wills, Principal, Wills Companies. They selected a first-place winner to receive $1,500, a second-place winner to receive $1,000, and two runners up to each receive $250.

  • 1st Place: Atman Patel from Francis Scott Key Elementary/Middle School in Baltimore with his business idea Story Crafters, which makes custom digital books about the customer, aiming to ignite a love of reading in all children.
  • 2nd Place: Keith Harris from KIPP DC College Preparatory School with his business idea Tactful Tutors, which empowers students to unlock their full potential by providing the tools and knowledge to foster and develop confidence, critical thinking, and academic excellence.
  • Runner up: Noah Blackston from Oxon Hill High School in Prince George’s County, Maryland, with his business idea Table Top Pizza, a unique, interactive, and memorable dining experience where customers can customize their own pizzas according to their preferences.
  • Runner up: Johns Williams from Francis Scott Key Elementary/Middle School in Baltimore with his business idea Earbud Buddy, a tool made to extract earwax out of earbuds.

“I was blown away by the caliber of student finalists this year. They are a true testament to the power of NFTE programs,” said Meg Stewart, NFTE Capital Region Executive Director. “These students showcase how an original idea, with support and training, can be turned into a full-fledged business pitch. That’s what NFTE is all about, igniting a spark and giving students the tools to own their future.”

The NFTE Capital Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge was presented by EY US and American University’s Veloric Center for Entrepreneurship, with signature support from Shopify and associate support from the Citi Foundation, PayPal, the Benjamin B. Wills III Charitable Foundation, and Santander.   

For media inquiries, please contact Angelika Seaman, 603-504-8554, or Denise Berkhalter, APR, 917-281-4362, at [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 to learn more.