NFTE Summer BizCamps: Nurturing the Next Bill Gates?

Microsoft and the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Link Graduation Ceremonies at Four BizCamp Locations by Videoconference

, August 19, 1999 (Boston, MA) — This summer, kids across the country traded campfires for calculators, honing their business entrepreneurial skills at NFTE summer BizCamps at eight locations across the country. On Friday, August 20 at 10 am PDT, students at four camp locations in Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle will share their experiences and winning business plans at graduation ceremonies linked together by videoconference.

NFTE, a national nonprofit organization, has been holding summer business camps for children from at-risk communities for the past ten years. This year was the first, however, that students completed BizTech, an online training program that contains a comprehensive business curriculum and culminates in the preparation of written business plans. The program can be integrated within school-to-work programs and last year was piloted in the New York City and Boston public school districts.

Microsoft Corp. is a long time supporter of NFTE, contributing more than $3 million in cash and software over the past three years to fund BizTech and other programs. “Microsoft has been a major supporter of our program because it parallels the culture and spirit of their own company,” said Steve Mariotti, founder of NFTE. “Bill Gates, who founded Microsoft as teenager, knows firsthand how far a good idea, some business acumen, and hard work can take someone.”

In addition to the four cities holding graduation ceremonies today, Microsoft hosted NFTE Biz Camps in Chicago, Sacramento, Washington DC, and Pittsburgh. In several of these locations, camps were augmented with paid internship programs either at Microsoft or at local Microsoft Certified Solution Provider business partners.

“For some of these kids, this summer will change their lives,” said Tom Hartocollis, Microsoft executive and NFTE board chairman. “Many of them grow up with no real role models when it comes to business. The training they get at NFTE camps, combined with exposure to professionals that are genuinely interested and committed to helping them succeed, completely changes their perspective. We salute all of today’s graduates and hope each and every one of them will take the skills they acquired this summer with them in their future educational and professional pursuits.”

NFTE’s program is having a strong and positive impact on many of today’s at-risk young people. A recent study conducted by Brandeis University shows compared to their peers, NFTE graduates are 30 times more likely to start their own businesses and they are 20 times more knowledgeable about entrepreneurship and basic business concepts.

Since its inception in 1987, NFTE has educated over 23,000 students across the country and internationally on how to develop and operate their own legitimate small businesses. NFTE delivers its mini-MBA style program by focusing on developing curriculum, training teachers and providing graduate services. With the BizTech program in place, NFTE will help train upwards of 9,000 kids during 1999. For more information about NFTE, please visit www.nfte.com.

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