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One-day Conference at Fox Helps to Inspire Philadelphia’s Youngest Entrepreneurs

March 17, 2015 //
IEI executive director Ellen Weber addresses Philadelphia area high school students at the Youth Entrepreneurship Conference.
IEI executive director Ellen Weber addresses Philadelphia area high school students at the Youth Entrepreneurship Conference.

It’s never too early to embrace entrepreneurship.

That’s what nearly 100 Philadelphia high school students learned March 12, in gathering at Temple University’s Fox School of Business for the fourth-annual Youth Entrepreneurship Conference.

The collaboration between Temple University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) and Network for Teaching Entrepreneurs (NFTE) made for a successful event, providing NFTE students the opportunity to meet business educators, leaders and mentors who ignited their entrepreneurial mindset. Participating Philadelphia high schools in the one-day conference included Boys Latin Charter School, Esperanza Charter School, Franklin Learning Center and Lincoln High School.

Private sector leader Jeff Brown, President and CEO of Brown’s Super Stores, served as the event’s keynote speaker. Brown, who also operates 11 Philadelphia-area ShopRite supermarkets, shared how he has utilized entrepreneurial thinking to operate supermarkets successfully. Hiring local residents, incorporating healthcare services and offering financial services not previously available, he said, have impacted the surrounding neighborhoods.

Staff and faculty from the NFTE and Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute recently held their fourth-annual Youth Entrepreneurship Conference.
Staff and faculty from the NFTE and Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute recently held their fourth-annual Youth Entrepreneurship Conference.

Sylvia McKinney, Executive Director of NFTE, and Tyra Ford, IEI Director of Operations and Strategic Marketing Initiatives, opened the conference with welcoming remarks.

“It may not happen in the next 12 months. It might happen five years from now,” McKinney said, “but the entrepreneurial mindset we’re developing with these students is going to go with them for a lifetime.”

Two faculty members from the Fox School – IEI Managing Director Rob McNamee and IEI Executive Director Ellen Weber – led presentation workshops and interactive activities to share their insights on becoming successful entrepreneurs. Additionally, David Kaiser, the Director of Undergraduate Enrollment Management at the Fox School, offered helpful tips on getting into the college of your dreams.

“It was great to see how engaged and energized the students were in learning about the different ways to innovate,” Weber said. “Students learned how to create experiments to test assumptions that are core to their business models, using the hypothetical Onion Goggles Company.”

According to the participating high school students, the takeaways from the event varied.

“Innovation is key,” said Jose Asencio, a student from the Franklin Learning Center. “Innovation helps express creativity and helps build and maintain relationships.”

“If you work hard enough, you can be anything you want in life,” said Shadeed Savage, another student from the Franklin Learning Center. “I learned from the instructors that not everybody started out at the top. Many people have to find their way on their own terms.”

Founded in New York City in 1987 by Steve Mariotti, a former entrepreneur turned high school math teacher in South Bronx, N.Y., NFTE began as a program to prevent dropouts and improve academic performance among students who were at risk of failing or quitting school. NFTE inspires young people from low-income communities to stay in school, recognize business opportunities and plan successful futures. Visit www.nfte.com for more information.

The mission of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute is to proactively promote the entrepreneurial spirit throughout all 17 schools and colleges of Temple University. The IEI’s highly skilled staff and faculty provide consulting services to project groups and new ventures while developing and maintaining the IEI’s rich offerings of programs and relationships. The IEI offers many years of experience in new ventures launched and consulting, extensive networks and boundless enthusiasm for experiential learning.

Click here to learn more about IEI.

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