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National program turns Pittsburgh high school students into entrepreneurs

If Bob Fragrasso had his way, all high school students would graduate with strong entrepreneurial skills.

We need to help students learn critical thinking in a way that teaches them to care and engage in the business world, says Fragrasso, president of Fragrasso Financial Advisors, one of several underwriters of the 2009 George W. Tippins’ Regional Youth Entrepreneur Business Competition that wrapped up this month.  

“It’s a tangible program that brings together math, critical thinking and human relations. Not every student will turn into Bill Gates, but every student is touched,” he adds. “It makes them more incisive about who they are and where they are going. I’d like to see the entire school system go this way.”

Fragrasso is one of three dozen local business leaders who participated in the competition, which is in its third year. The event,sponsored by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), provides entrepreneurship education opportunities to young students from low-income communities.

Since 1995, NFTE has served more than 6,000 students at private, public and charter high schools around the region. Twenty-one finalists presented their business plans in May for innovative companies and products. Three finalist were selected: 

First place, $2000 winner Lana Baslan is a graduating senior at Allerdice. Baslan is founder and CEO of Tres, a Arabic, Spanish and French translation service for her east area community.

Second place: Tressa Nemcik, a graduating senior from McKeesport High School, the CEO of Just Baby It!, a custom design business for infant “onesies.”

Third place: Amber Key, a freshman at Pittsburgh CAPA High School, CEO of Birdhouse Greeting Cards, a custom greeting cards business targeted toward teens.

Baslan and Nemcik will compete in the NFTE National Competition this October in New York City.

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Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Bob Fragrasso, Fragrasso Financial Advisors; Jerry Cozewith, NFTE

Image courtesy NFTE
From left to right: Tressa Nemcik, Amber Key, Lana Baslan and middle school winner Michael Vaughn of Cardinal Wright Regional School. 
 

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