What’s Next for NFTE Bay Area (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship)

Mar 26, 2015   |   Emma Nothmann


Our Bay Area Civic Engagement team began working with Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) in 2012.  As one of Microsoft’s national YouthSpark partners, NFTE embodies the YouthSpark goal of empowering youth by harnessing the creativity of Bay Area students and honing their business, financial, and rhetorical skills.  Microsoft has proudly supported NFTE’s expanded work in the South Bay and is offering a matching grant for NFTE for Silicon Valley Gives, coming up May 5. Emma Nothmann, Executive Director of NFTE Bay Area, is an incredible partner and we’re thrilled to share her update of NFTE’s latest work supporting the next generation of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs!

                                                        –  Jessica Weare, Philanthropy + Civic Engagement Manager at Microsoft


This Spring, while many high school students are enjoying proms and graduations, student CEOs from classrooms across the Bay Area will be competing in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s (NFTE) regional business plan competition, showcasing the next generation of entrepreneurs.sl girls

NFTE Bay Area works with students from low-income high schools across the region to inspire them to stay in school, recognize business opportunities, and plan for successful futures. The program recruits teachers, trains them to teach entrepreneurship, and supports their classes throughout the year with curriculum and volunteer support, and we are fortunate to count Microsoft among our incredible line up of supportive sponsors. At this point in the spring, over 1,500 Bay Area students are working and reworking their business plans to get them just right in time for the competition.

Highlights from last year’s competitions included Doesha-Monay Wright from Silver Creek High School in San Jose, who makes and sells custom cell phone cases from recycled jewelry, and Bobbie Reyes from Hayward High School in Hayward, who designs and fabricates customizable apparel for high school teams. Their strong business plans, including detailed sales and marketing strategies as well as financial analysis, and flawless presentations won them first and second place respectively.

NFTE students continually amaze us with their perspective on how to solve for challenges in the world around them. At this year’s NFTE-SAP Youth Innovators Hackathon in March, the first place team developed an app that “gamifies” water conservation among HOA members.  (Check out highlights from the hackathon here.) We can’t wait to see more of our students’ work in competition in just a few months!

NFTE Bay Area is hosting three regional semi-final competitions this Spring:

  • May 19, South Bay Regional Semi-Final Competition, held at the San Jose Ernst and Young offices, 4-7pm
  • May 20, East Bay Regional Semi-Final Competition, held at the REACH Ashland Youth Center in San Leandro, 4-7pm
  • May 21, San Francisco Regional Semi-Final Competition, held at the San Francisco Ernst and Young offices, 4-7pm

Team Watir

NFTE students still have a great deal of work to do between now and then, however. We would welcome volunteers to join us in classrooms to coach students and provide them feedback on their emerging business plans. We would also welcome guest judges at classroom competitions or at the semi-final events listed above.

Volunteer support and engagement helps make business and entrepreneurship feel exciting and attainable to our students, many of whom come from under-represented backgrounds and haven’t been exposed to entrepreneurship as a career path. One of our students described an experience with a volunteer, saying, “I presented my business plan to a professional CEO, and all my work went into that one moment. I felt special because I was talking to a real professional, and they wanted to hear my business plan. It gave me confidence… entrepreneurship will help me because I need to be a risk taker and succeed where others fail.” To get involved in our program, please reach out to emma.nothmann@nfte.com.


Emma Nothmann was appointed to serve as Executive Director of NFTE Bay Area in June of 2014. Prior to this position, Emma worked in both Texas and California at the crossroads of education and entrepreneurship. Working as an intrapreneur, Emma built teams of consultants at Katzenbach Partners and Booz and Company. At Booz, Emma built a department focused exclusively on serving the education sector, with clients including the Gates Foundation and large urban school districts.


To learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to youth and education, visit our YouthSpark Hub or follow us on twitter at @msftcitizenship.

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