Reedley High School senior Katie Olsen won first place in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Regional Business Plan Competition, “Dream it! Start it! Own it!” on May 21, earning a spot at the national competition in October in New York City. NFTE is a program offered by Fresno State’s Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Olsen beat out more than 1,000 student participants with her business plan for Hidden Hollow, a wedding and event planning business.
Olsen will next present her business plan at the NFTE National Business Plan Competition, where she will be competing for $10,000 in seed money to launch her business.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with the Lyles Center in providing the NFTE program,” said Juan Garza, superintendent for Kings Canyon Unified School District. “It demonstrates that when you provide opportunities for students like Katie, they get motivated, excel and become champions.”
AyeeJaee Rios, a senior from Carter G. Woodson Public Charter School, earned second place for a business plan for Lost Souls Apparel, a customized clothing line. Orlando Lopez, a junior at Roosevelt High School took third place for his business plan on Leticia’s Mexican Food Catering.
The finalists presented their business plans in front of eight judges and all attendees at the competition. The judging panel consisted of Matt Damore, creative director at CBS 47 On Your Side; Juan Ortega, owner of Grilled Chz; Louie Avila, founder, owner and president of Avison Construction Inc.; and Michelle Asadoorian, Fresno Unified School District board member.
“The Lyles Center goal is to bring the NFTE program, which is training teachers to deliver proven, hands-on entrepreneurship curriculum, to every high school in the Central Valley,” said Genelle Taylor, associate director of the Lyles Center.
The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s mission is to provide programs that inspire young people from low-income areas to stay in school, recognize business opportunities and plan for successful futures. Since its founding in 1987 by Steve Mariotti, NFTE has worked with nearly 450,000 young people from low-income communities in programs across the U.S. and around the world.
“We want all young people to have exposure to the entrepreneurial spirit, in one way or another, by the time they are 18,” Taylor said. “Creating a classroom with relevant learning activities for youth means less dropouts and a more prosperous community.”