Local Midwest Youth Entrepreneurs Advance to National Pitch Competition


Students Split $3,000 in Prize Money

CHICAGO, May 31, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Imagine participating in a Shark Tank-style pitch-off as a young person, winning funds to further your business—and advancing from a regional competition to a national arena.

The winners of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Midwest: Chicago Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge Finals will do just that, taking their business ideas to New York in mid-October to vie for the title of National Champion and prizes from a pool of $18,000.

Participating students presented their original business ideas to a panel of esteemed judges. The first- and second-place winners, who will receive $1,500 and $1,000, respectively, will continue to Nationals. The third-place winner will receive $500.

  • 1st Place: Autumn Harmon – Express Yourself Studio, Thornwood High School, Cook County
    • Express Yourself Studio’s mission is to provide a safe space for dancers to express their emotions through performance art.
  • 2nd Place: Nasjha Lucas and Tristan Peeler – NTC, Perspectives Leadership Academy and High School of Technology, Cook County
    • NTC is a sustainability-centered business that provides reusable pregnancy tests, with strips used to sample urine that are biodegradable and can be flushed.
  • 3rd Place: Joannaly Sanchez – KeepIt100!, Holy Trinity High School, Cook County
    • KeepIt100! is a charger that stops charging your phone when it reaches 100% to prevent it from overheating, which is one of the main issues of your phone losing battery life, and also has a lightweight, detachable USB that can charge your phone for up to three hours while you’re on-the-go.

“Young people are changing the world—there is no question about it. We are so proud of every student and their commitment to entrepreneurship,” said Dr. J.D. LaRock, CEO of NFTE. “Each young entrepreneur’s innovative idea signifies an opportunity to address key challenges facing communities around the globe. We activate the entrepreneurial mindset in young people, and this is critical to growing businesses, economies, and communities.”

The competition took place on May 25 at UIC Student Center West with a panel of expert judges, including:

  • Deandre Allen, NFTE Alumnus and Founder of Profs Academy
  • Richard Bloomfield, CEO & Co-Founder of Funkytown Brewery
  • Pramit Mehta, Midwest Advisory Board member and partner at EY
  • Rob Ritchie, Regional President at Ingredion
  • Carrie Steyer, General Manager at Slalom

The NFTE Midwest: Chicago Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge was presented by EY, Ingredion and Slalom Consulting with signature support from the Citi Foundation and Mary Kay, Inc.

About NFTE

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is a global nonprofit organization that provides high-quality entrepreneurship education to middle and high school students from under-resourced communities, as well as programs for college students and adults. NFTE reaches 50,000+ students annually in 25 states across the U.S. and offers programs in 18 additional countries. We have educated more than a million students through in-school, out-of-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 www.nfte.com.


CONTACT: Denise Berkhalter, APR

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE)

(212) 232-3333


Joanne Lessner


(212) 222-7436