Baltimore Students Win Entrepreneurship Challenge Hosted by Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE)


— Saint Francis Academy and National Academy Foundation students Nailah Taylor and Crisaly De Los Santos won the first and second place spots in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Baltimore Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. They will represent Baltimore Metro at the NFTE 2017 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in October in New York City where they will present and defend their business plans to compete for prizes totaling $20,000.

First Place winner Nailah Taylor, who attends Saint Francis Academy, won $1500 for her plan for The Bundle Box, which helps women successfully store their hair extensions. Second Place winner Crisaly De Los Santos, who attends National Academy Foundation, created i-translation and won $1,000, for her plan for a mobile app that assists English Language Learners with features not found in other apps. Natalie Thomas from Saint Francis Academy was the third place finalist, receiving a prize of $500 for her plan for PEP Fitness, which provides fitness instruction based on the fundamentals of cheerleading.

“NFTE activates the entrepreneurial mindset and builds startup skills in youth both to ensure their long-term success and a more vibrant economy and society,” says Shawn Osborne, NFTE President and CEO. “Youth today are not prepared for the jobs of today or to create and fill the jobs of tomorrow. Many of the high-growth jobs of today barely existed a decade ago and the jobs of the future likely do not exist today. The entrepreneurial mindset is therefore key to success for any young person who wants to be ready for a fast-changing future.”

The judges for the Baltimore regional competition were: Eric R. Abel, Managing Director, CFO & Co-founder, ValStone Partners; Marlon Fortineaux, Partner, RSM US LLP; Dr. Chris Gibbons, Chief Health Innovation Advisor, Federal Communications Commission’s Connect2Health Task Force; Jennifer Leroux, Chief Financial Officer, Snag A Slip; Laura Neuman, CEO, Entrepreneur, Change Agent; and Philip Niedermair, Managing Director of Strategic Alliances, Whiteford, Taylor Preston.

NFTE Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenges will take place in cities across the country supported by Microsoft and the Citi Foundation, as part of its Pathways to Progress global expansion to prepare urban youth for today’s competitive job market. Additional support for the Baltimore Regional Challenge was provided by Mastercard, EY, Cohn Reznick, RSM, SunTrust, UPS, ValStone Parnters, Verizon, and Whiteford, Taylor Preston. The Baltimore competition was held on June 1 at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, and in attendance was Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, who spoke at the event.

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is an international nonprofit that activates the entrepreneurial mindset in young people and builds their knowledge about business startup. Students acquire the entrepreneurial mindset (e.g., innovation, self-reliance, comfort with risk), alongside business, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), and presentation skills—equipping them to drive their best futures in the 21st Century. NFTE focuses its work on under-resourced communities, with programs in 22 locations in 9 countries. For more information, please visit, like NFTE on Facebook at, and follow NFTE on Twitter at NFTE.