(FinalCall.com) – Chris Carter, CEO of the TUBA Group, was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship. This was the second year in a row that a Cleveland City Entrepreneur has received the award. The NFTE award included a trip to New York City to receive the award and a cash grant to apply to college expenses or his business.
Mr. Carter is a junior at Trinity High School and is a 2004 graduate of E City’s Summer BizCamp. He is also a graduate of the Microsystems Academy, which was created to introduce young people to the cutting-edge science and business of MEMS (micro-electrical-mechanical systems). Mr. Carter, along with two of his colleagues, was able to take these two experiences and develop a business plan for the TUBA Group. Their plan involves a web-based service that matches MEMS producers with packagers of micro-sized products.
Mr. Carter was one of the featured Young Entrepreneurs at E City’s Annual Awareness breakfast, which was held at Landerhaven on May 9. Six hundred supporters, young entrepreneurs and their families, attended the breakfast. Mr. Carter challenged the audience, “Creating TUBA’s business plan required a lot of hard work and persistence. What will you do to help E City help more kids like me?”
What is E City?
E City (Entrepreneurship: Connecting, Inspiring and Teaching Youth) was started in January 2002 by John Zitzner. According to Mr. Zitzner, “the purpose of E City is to train and grow healthy, self-sufficient individuals, by bringing entrepreneurship education to at-risk inner-city teens in Cleveland. It’s about breaking the cycle of poverty, one entrepreneur at a time.” Mr. Zitzner knows about entrepreneurship firsthand, since he started, and later sold, a very lucrative software business.
E City is a program that is run by motivated public school teachers who have completed Certified Entrepreneurship training. Today’s afterschool program involves a 70-hour curriculum on entrepreneurship and business-building. It includes training in leadership, finance, marketing and the basic elements of running a business. Students are given a grant of $50 to open a bank account and encouraged to purchase products and resell them, thus reinforcing the concept of “buy low and sell high.” Each student works with a mentor to develop a business plan, which, at the end of the program, is presented to a panel of judges.
According to Mr. Zitzner, “E City teaches young people to think like entrepreneurs–to take risks, to always be open to learning and to be empowered to take control of their lives.”
The program results are impressive. E City participants’ test scores on business knowledge have improved by 53 percent, based on pre-and post-program testing. Attendances for the afterschool program has averaged 88 percent and, finally, 82 percent of the students prepare a business plan and graduate from the program.
Mr. Zitner presented E City’s vision for the future, which is to create the first of many Entrepreneurship Academies in Cleveland. E City plans to open its first Academy in the Fall of 2006 with 100 sixth graders and add a class of 100 students each year.
“We have visited a dozen schools like this on the East Coast and it is working,” he says. “Every child in Cleveland deserves a quality education. Cleveland has low self-esteem and we have to turn this around. Education is the long-term solution. We have the power, energy, resources and knowledge to make this happen. What will you do?”
The keys to economic freedom for people of color in America are business ownership and economic development within the community. E City’s program to teach business ownership skills to inner-city youth is right on target. The teachers, mentors, leaders and supporters of E City are making a difference.
If you would like more information about the E City program, visit their website at www.ecitycleveland.com.
(Michael Shinn is a registered representative of the Financial Network Investment Corporation. Visit www.shinnfinancial.com for more information. Questions and comments may be sent via email to [email protected].)