NFTE names the best young entrepreneurs of 2021


New York, NY, October 27, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Network for Entrepreneurship Education (NFTE) announced the three young entrepreneurs who have established themselves as the best competitors at the 16th edition of the NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, presented by Citi Foundation and Ernst & Young LLP (EY US).

Thirty-eight young entrepreneurs representing 32 companies embarked on a virtual pitch-off on October 20 and 21, after winning a series of local and regional pitch competitions organized online last spring. After the quarter-finals and semi-finals, three finalists had the opportunity to present their company to a panel of five VIP judges. Each received $ 10,000 to help grow their business or further their educational goals. In addition, nine semi-finalists received $ 300 in prizes, and $ 300 in additional prizes were awarded to other competitors.

The three national champions are: 17 years old Amylah charles from Jurupa Valley, California; 17 years Madelyn Jackson from Chicago, Illinois; and 16 years old Carissa Lombardi of Warwick, RI.

Amylah Charles presented her company Curlycrownz, a hair care brand focused on 100% natural products for natural hair. Madelyn Jackson presented PACA, a personalized autism communication app to help children and families. Carissa Lombardi launched Navigation Legislation, an app to help voters understand the impacts of proposed legislation and help legislators analyze public opinion.

“The young people who took part in this year’s National Challenge have shown impressive resilience. Despite the challenges and disruptions caused by the pandemic, they remain focused on achieving their goals, ”said Dr JD LaRock, President and CEO of NFTE. “I have no doubts that these young innovators will make their mark in the world, whether they continue to grow their businesses, pursue post-secondary education or join the workforce. Whichever path they choose, I know their entrepreneurial spirit will help them achieve great things.

Judges for the final round of the competition included Marie blackford, Founder of Market 7 and a former student of the NFTE; Pam Habner, CEO of US Branded Cards and Lending for Citi; Sam johnson, Vice President EY Americas – Accounts; Jonathan Kaufman, founder of J Kaufman Consulting / J Kaufman Coaching; and the rapper and singer / songwriter Saweetie, founder of the Frozen baby foundation.

“It is essential that we support the next generation so that they can become the transformative leaders the world needs,” said Sam johnson, Vice-president of EY Americas – Accounts. “EY proudly supports the work that NFTE does to help students develop the critical thinking, creative thinking, and resilience necessary for success in both life and business.

“Investing in our next generation of entrepreneurs is mission critical,” said the Citi judge. Pam habner. “Citi and the Citi Foundation are proud to continue our work with NFTE to inspire students to pursue their dreams and persevere on the path to do so. Congratulations to all of the talented young entrepreneurs who participated in this year’s National Challenge – we can’t wait to see what awaits you! ”

Photos, video clips and detailed biographies are available on request for all National Challenge competitors, along with information on the winning companies.

About NFTE

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is a global non-profit organization that provides high-quality entrepreneurship education to middle and high school students from disadvantaged communities, as well as programs for students and adults. NFTE reaches over 50,000 students each year, with a program in 25 US states and 20 other countries. We have educated over one million students through school, after-school, college and summer camp programs, offered in person and online. To learn more about how we are promoting inclusive capitalism and building the next generation of diverse entrepreneurs, visit

About the Citi Foundation

The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze employment opportunities for young people and reinvent approaches to build economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation’s “More Than Philanthropy” approach draws on the tremendous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and stimulate thought leadership and innovation. For more information visit

  • NFTE congratulates the 2021 national champions!


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