An Entrepreneurial Volunteer

March 4, 2013  |  1 comment

“The specific subject matter isn’t as important as keeping kids engaged and building their confidence and real world skill set”

This may seem like an odd quote to discuss the benefits of a specific education curriculum like NFTE, but it rang true to my personal experience. Going into ninth grade, I was a stuttering, shy kid who was unsure of what I might want to do or who I was as an individual. That was all until I met my 9th grade trigonometry teacher, Mr. Loomis. I remember his booming voice coming down the hall, inviting “Mr. Miller” into his class. With the passion of any true entrepreneur and a mop of curly hair, his energy was contagious and his passions to teach, innovate, and continue to learn himself was unmistakable. To be honest, I hardly remember a single piece of trigonometry, but that wasn’t his true teaching. He taught me to have confidence in myself and that passion and a willingness to learn trumps all.

I see my “Mr Loomis” in each one of NFTE teachers and staff I have worked with and how they transform their students’ lives. The best part of about NFTE, though, is that it is an unmistakably real world skill set that is being taught. I might not need to find the area of an octagon every day, but I certainly need the entrepreneurial skill set that NFTE teaches to each student in order to run my company. As an e-council member of NFTE Chicago, I visit the same students each month for an entire school year and see their growth. I am amazed at their growing ability to quickly read, critically analyze, understand, and communicate large and complex issues and I know it will translate into helping them in everything from future classes to job interviews and groups projects.

About Jonathan Miller

Jonathan Miller graduated with a double major in computer science and economics from Northwestern University in 2002. As an undergraduate at Northwestern, Jonathan started his first company,, after becoming fed up paying outrageous prices for his textbooks. In 2006, Jonathan entered business school at the Kellogg School of Management to continue his entrepreneurial education. After graduating in 2008, Jonathan launched Element Bars and was recognized by the Chicago Innovation Awards as the Young Innovator of the year. On the September 13th, 2009 episode of ABC’s Shark Tank, Jonathan Miller successfully negotiated a deal with infomercial king Kevin Harrington. In 2011, the founding team of Element Bars launched a spin-out company called Buzz Referrals that does referral marketing. In January 2012, Buzz Referrals closed their series A round of $650k, lead by Michael Polsky.

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