Miami, FL (May 16, 2023) – Global entrepreneurship education nonprofit Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) has named three local student businesses as the winners of its annual Southeast Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. The young entrepreneurs distinguished themselves through innovative business ideas, which they will be presenting 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. Alongside the winners, the 10 finalists are also advancing to the New York competition.

Competitors pitched their original business concepts to a panel of esteemed judges, Anthony Perez, Director of Corporate Partnerships, Miami HEAT; Barbara Steel, Managing Director of People Advisory Services, Ernst & Young, LLP; Jessica Vasquez, Assistant Manager of Marketing, Dade County Federal Credit Union; Peter Francis, Managing Director, Summit Partners; and Carlos Casas Vargas, Senior Vice President at Santander Private Banking International, 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: Sasha Stoppi of Miami-Dade County’s New World School of the Arts with the idea for Noodlepudding, creators of Pudding Buddies (a portable plush toy with built-in fidget toys for neurodivergent students).
    • 2nd Place: Sarai Umansor Morales of Central East Florida’s Palm Beach Gardens High School with the concept for Fiery, a retail and manufacturing business that sells affordable car rims made from recycled aluminum.
    • 3rd Place: Demi McKinley of Central West Florida’s Dr. Kiran C. Patel High School with Piwich Pro, which would make the Piwich (a pizza sandwich handmade with only organic products).

“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 Southeast Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge was presented by Ernst & Young LLP (EY US) and Santander, with signature support from Gen-You Dade County Federal Credit Union, and associate support from the Citi Foundation, Nicaragua Cargo Express, Print Basics, and The Giving Closet.

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 to learn more.