The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Oct 14, 2013

Digital entrepreneurship education helping solve youth unemployment in Florida

Posted by Alice Horn

Knight Foundation supports the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) to use technology to prepare students from low-income communities for today’s job market. Below, Alice Horn, executive director of NFTE South Florida, writes about a new initiative beginning this fall. Above: NFTE South Florida students Keion Farmer and Brendon Johnson present their business Urban Tech Co. at the Regional Youth Bizplan. Photo credit: Yamila Images Corp.

In Florida, the rate of unemployment for young people ages 16-24 is a staggering 16 percent.  This is due in part to a lack of the professional technological skills that employers are looking for in new hires. The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship will begin addressing this deficiency by launching a digital classroom initiative this fall. The program, supported by Knight Foundation, engages 600 young people from low-income communities in a technology-enabled youth entrepreneurship network.

The program’s goal is to build a new generation of informed entrepreneurial citizens. These young people will essentially create their own jobs as entrepreneurs while learning the technological skills needed in today’s marketplace. Building on the core curriculum of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, the digital classroom will connect students with their peers in other parts of the country and the world, with entrepreneurship educators, and with the business community.  Specifically, students will utilize digital tools, such as videoconferencing software and social networks, to learn entrepreneurial skills like feasibility and market research as well as perfect their own business plan.

Alumnus Andres Cardona is a perfect example of the transformative power of entrepreneurship education. Andres was inspired to launch his business when he enrolled in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship program at the age of 16. His mother had just lost her job, and Andres felt compelled to help support his family. An avid basketball player, he turned to what he knew best. He began to develop his business idea, the Elite Basketball Academy. “I wanted to let other kids who’ve gone through trauma in life to have an outlet for their problems.” Students in the Elite Basketball Academy range in age from 8 to 18. The program focuses on teaching the fundamentals of basketball and physical fitness.

Currently, Andres is studying finance at Florida International University while continuing to run the academy, which has more than 120 students enrolled. Andres, now 20, is supporting himself and his education while contributing to his family’s income through his business.

Recently the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship releasedThe NFTE Difference,” an alumni survey that confirms our impact on many more young people like Andres. Nearly 1300 U.S. alumni ages 13 to 28 responded to the survey, demonstrating the program has a powerful impact that extends into the workforce and business ownership.  In fact, 88 percent of high school graduates who have entered the program are employed compared to 69 percent for the U.S. population (Current Population Survey, 2012).  Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship alumni are twice as likely to be self-employed entrepreneurs as the general population.  On top of that, alumni earn over 50 percent more than their peers, and even more when they work for themselves.

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship is the only global nonprofit organization solely focused on bringing entrepreneurship education to low-income youth. The South Florida office, which is based in Miami, was launched in 2006 and has served more than 20,000 youth. With active programs in nine countries and 21 U.S. states, NFTE impacts the lives of nearly 50,000 young people worldwide each year. Working through Title 1 schools in low-income communities, our mission is to provide programs that inspire young people to stay in school, to recognize business opportunities and to plan for successful futures.

For more information about the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and our alumni survey, visit To learn more about NFTE South Florida, email us at

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