2019 NFTE Baltimore Metro Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge - Student Winners and Judges

2019 NFTE Baltimore Metro Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge


Five young entrepreneurs from area high schools won top honors in the NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship) Baltimore Metro Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge held at Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park on June 18.

The students pitched their business ideas to a panel of expert judges, competing for cash prizes and a free trip to New York City to represent the Baltimore region in national competition this fall. The first and second place winners now qualify to enter the quarterfinal rounds of NFTE’s National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, where they'll compete against top young entrepreneurs from across the U.S. and vie for a chance to win more seed capital to grow their businesses or pursue educational goals.

The results of the 2019 NFTE Baltimore Metro Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge:

  • First place and $1,500 was awarded to Tyvon Clark and Jankani Masi, thirteen-year-olds who attend Francis Scott Key Elementary/Middle School for their business Aqua, a smartphone app that endeavors to bridge the gap between the hearing and the deaf communities by converting sign language into text.
  • Second place and $1,000 was awarded to fourteen-year-old Mekkhi Williams of Saint Frances Academy, the founder of DROP, a service dedicated to revolutionizing the college move-in process by providing shipping and storage services, saving students and their parents time and money.
  • Third place and $500 was awarded to twelve-year-old Carmen Espejo-Saavadra and thirteen-year-old Decensae Coates-Woods of The Mount Washington School, creators of Hairo Headbands, an innovative sport headband that won't slip or drip during play and practice.

Student business pitches were judged by a panel of experts that included:

  • Austin Brown, Co-Founder, Global Air Media
  • Charles Martin, Administrative VP and Regional Community Reinvestment Manager at M&T Bank
  • Mark Rich, CEO, Baltimore Fabrication and Co-Founder, Foreman-Rich Steel Erectors
  • Alicia Wilson, Senior Vice President, Impact Investments at Weller Development and Senior Legal Counsel for the Port Covington Development Company
  • Stan Wolfe, Lead Specialist in Career and Technology Education, Baltimore City Public Schools

The evening event was emceed by Keenen Geeter, Founder & Director of Young Men with POWER and a member of the NFTE Baltimore Metro Advisory Board.

Two special awards were announced during the program:

  • Jasmine Caple of UPS was named the NFTE Baltimore Metro Volunteer of the Year
  • Neopol Savory Smokery was named NFTE Baltimore Metro Corporate Volunteer of the Year

The 2019 NFTE Baltimore Metro Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge was presented by EY and Microsoft.

About NFTE
NFTE is the leading educational nonprofit focused on teaching startup skills and activating the entrepreneurial mindset in young people from under-resourced communities. Research shows the entrepreneurial mindset—skills including problem-solving, adaptability, initiative, and self-reliance—leads to lifelong success. Equipped with the business and academic skills NFTE teaches and empowered by the entrepreneurial mindset, NFTE alumni are prepared to thrive. NFTE works with schools and community partners across the country through its nationwide network of program offices. Alliances with global youth development organizations bring NFTE programs to additional students internationally. NFTE reaches more than 100,000 young people annually and has served well over a million students since its founding. Learn more at nfte.com.

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