SOURCE: National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship

September 21, 2006 09:15 ET

NFTE Names Michael Caslin to Senior Public Policy Post to Boost Adoption of Entrepreneurship Education in Nation's Schools

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- September 21, 2006 -- The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) announced that Michael J. Caslin III has been named Executive Vice President for Public Policy, where he will seek to advance the adoption of entrepreneurship education in the nation's schools as a way of engaging young people in academic performance and arresting the nation's dropout rate among minority students.

In his new role, Caslin will seek to affect education policy by building the case for including entrepreneurship curriculum in the nation's schools, focusing on schools in low-income communities in major urban centers. Caslin has previously served as a member of the NFTE Office of the President where he was instrumental in expanding NFTE's presence from start-up sites in the South Bronx and Newark in 1988 to a global network of 3,700 NFTE-trained teachers based in 28 states and in 13 countries graduating 32,000 students annually; 150,000 students historically.

"Education in the U.S. must be recast to include ways that reach out to high school students to promote basic skills learning in a practical context. NFTE offers an implementation model that is rigorous, relevant and relationship-driven (teacher, student and volunteer)," said Caslin. "For many, the American education system has failed to develop adequate capabilities in math, reading and critical thinking. Teaching personal enterprise and entrepreneurship in low-income areas, both in rural and urban schools, is a proven technique that has worked in engaging students in school thereby helping to support the broader academic goals established under the U.S. Department of Education's No Child Left Behind initiative."

"Michael is taking on what may be the most important role in achieving the implementation of youth entrepreneurship education programs in school systems across the country, particularly in urban districts, to provide students with the skills they need to become productive members of their communities," said Steve Mariotti, founder and President of NFTE.

Originally begun as a dropout prevention program, NFTE's entrepreneurship education program teaches low-income students the business skills they need to start their own small business, while reinforcing basic academic skills. NFTE's goal is to give young people the skills and confidence to unlock their true potential, so they can improve their lives and their communities. Through NFTE, students learn how to create a business plan, keep books, and master other business fundamentals.

According to "The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives on High School Dropouts" by Civic Enterprises in association with Peter D. Hart Research Associates for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, each year, almost one-third of all public high school students -- and nearly one-half of all blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans -- fail to graduate from public high school with their class.

Nearly half (47%) of these students said that a major reason for dropping out was that classes were not interesting. These young people reported being bored and disengaged from high school. Furthermore, four out of five (81 percent) said there should be more opportunities for real-world learning.

"The lack of knowledge these students have about the workings of our economy and their place in it, systematically denies such young people opportunities for pursuing the dreams and goals that are thought to mark healthy adolescent idealism. Without ideals to pursue, young people are left with little reason to invest in education, in their futures and their own development. What we have learned is that there is a close relationship between the things young people want and what entrepreneurship can do to help them attain them," said Caslin.

According to research conducted by Harvard University's Graduate School of Education on students participating in the NFTE experiential learning program, young people who learn about entrepreneurship develop a "success" orientation and are more likely to be focused on becoming professionals and entering the workforce. According to Caslin, this shift in attitude toward success is critical in helping students stay on track and motivated in the midst of mixed messages about their future opportunities.

Further, a recent study conducted by Brandeis University has shown that when compared to a control group, NFTE graduates are 30 times more likely to start their own businesses, and they are 20 times more knowledgeable about entrepreneurship and basic business concepts.

On NFTE's behalf, Caslin has worked with the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Congress to have NFTE recognized and led the effort to secure support for its innovative work in regions across the USA. He has provided testimony before the National Governors Association, U.S. Congress, various U.S. Federal Agencies and the United Nations.

He recently persuaded the New York City Council to be the first in the nation to finance the expansion of NFTE's youth entrepreneurship education curriculum into high schools in all 51 city council districts. He will soon be convening a national forum of key entrepreneurial leaders in education, business and government in partnership with the Aspen Institute and E-Trade to create a common agenda for broad-based systemic expansion of youth entrepreneurship education opportunities in America's public school systems serving high concentrations of youth living in low-income communities.

About NFTE

The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship ( is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, whose mission is to teach entrepreneurship to young people from low-income communities to enhance their economic productivity by improving their business, academic, and life skills. Since 1987, NFTE has reached over 150,000 youth and trained more than 4,100 Certified Entrepreneurship Teachers. Currently NFTE has active programs in 28 states and 13 countries.

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