1st Mariner Bank has been a strong supporter of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). NFTE's mission is to " provide entrepreneurship education programs to young people from low-income communities." The goal is to encourage entrepreneurship, increase financial literacy, and provide participants a reason to stay in school and continue their education. The Baltimore NFTE office works with over 200 middle and high school students through teachers certified to teach the NFTE curriculum. Throughout the year, the students identify a business idea, build a business plan and, if possible, establish a business. They work with mentors from the private sector to refine their business plans and develop their businesses. To encourage these young entrepreneurs, there are numerous local and regional business plan competitions, where they compete against students from other schools for cash prizes.
For those who are good enough to win these local competitions, there is the opportunity to be nominated to compete in the national business plan competition in New York, for $10,000. Ten9Eight: Shoot for the Moon , from award-winning filmmaker Mary Mazzio, follows these students, from all around the country, as they prepare for and compete in this competition. I, along with my fellow employee Wade Barnes, was the mentor for two students from Patterson High School, William Mack and Ja'Mal Wills, who are featured in this film. Their company, J & W Sensations, produces an all natural skin lotion. The film was released nationally in November and will debut on BET this Sunday, February 7th at 12 noon. I encourage everyone to watch this incredibly powerful and moving story about these young entrepreneurs.