Zoë Damacela is a dynamic, young entrepreneur that we'll be following in 2013. She's a NFTE (National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship) alum whose business plan for Zoë Damacela Apparel took top honors at the Chicago Citiwide Business Plan Competition and placed second in the NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge.

We'll follow Zoë through this blog as she manages her business and juggles school and other responsibilites.

Helping students get the trep fever


One of the ways I "pay it forward" is to give back to my community and encourage other young people to take control of their destiny. So back at the beginning of the summer,  I met with students from the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship's (NFTE) "Start Up Summer" program.

The program takes current high school students who are interested in business and spends the summer introducing them to mentors and resources, providing one on one help and guidance for their business plans and helping them start their own small businesses.  It's a really fantastic program that exposes teenagers to the opportunities of entrepreneurship.

I'm especially proud to say that I went through the NFTE program myself! It's what jumpstarted my career and gave me a tremendous boost of creativity, logic, business background and a team of mentors and advisors.

So meeting these new NFTE students was exciting for me. I gave them a presentation about my background, my business and my experiences and I could see how that translated into them being excited about their own possibilites.  When young students connect with education through entrepreneurship, it reinforces my belief that schools need to incorporate entrepreneurship skills into their curriculum.

Each of the students was bright and enthusiastic about learning. One student was launching a tech accessories business, another was developing an athletic equipment business and another student was building a catering company.

NFTE's wide reach
Many students who have gone through the NFTE program become successful and maintain their businesses after graduation. And the program also impacts and reaches into a student's other studies, as they become more interested in math, economics, finance and other core and elective subjects.

This is especially true for students who come from low income communities. Giving them hands-on experience and showing them how the subjects they may not like in school can help them succeed and make money motivates them. These students often become more engaged and active in their education.

Again, I can't say enough good things about the NFTE program. And I encourage you to make a difference and get involved. Here is a link to the NFTE website where you can find out how you can volunteer or donate!

Visit the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

The views of third parties set out in this publication are not necessarily the views of EY. Moreover, the views should be seen in the context of the time they were expressed.