May 24, 2010 13:11 ET

DC-Area Teen Entrepreneur Crowned "Top Dog" During NFTE's Regional Business Plan Competition

TC Williams High School Student Wins $1,500 to Grow Dog Walking Business

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - May 24, 2010) -  As the old saying goes: "Every dog has its day," and if it's any indication, there will be many winning days ahead for Aisha Cooper, a senior from TC Williams High School in Alexandria, VA, who won top honors during the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship's (NFTE DC Region) 31st semi-annual Regional Business Plan Competition, when she wowed judges with her business plan for her dog walking start-up, PuppyLOVE.

The 17-year-old edged out her four other teenage entrepreneurial peers from Virginia and Maryland to win first place -- a $1,500 cash prize of seed capital investment to jump-start her business, which employs local teens to offer dog-walking services in area apartment complexes. The 12th grader was among five DC-area students presenting and defending business plans before a panel of 12 local business and community leaders during the regional finals.

NFTE, a nonprofit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and business skills to high school students from low-income communities, holds this competition at the end of each school semester as the culmination of its 80-hour "Mini-MBA" entrepreneurship curriculum. Throughout the year, NFTE provides school-based and after-school programs to teach youth from low-income communities how to start and operate their own businesses. At the end of each semester, all students are required to write a business plan, and they participate in an "In-class Business Plan Competition." Those winning students go on to compete first in the Semifinals, then a Regional Final competition, where the top five finalists compete to win $150 to $1,500 in seed capital investment.

The other teen entrepreneur winners were:

Second Place Winner -- $750
Darnell Lisby, founder, His-Story Tutoring (history/geography tutoring), Suitland High School (Forestville, MD)

Third Place -- $500
JD Bautista, founder, Thermo Threads (thermo-chromatic t-shirts), TC Williams High School (Alexandria, VA)

Runners-Up -- $150
Autumn Fletcher, founder, Braids Galore (braid/corn-row hair stylist), Potomac High School (Oxen Hill, MD)
Helen Gonzales, founder, It's Personal (hand-crafted jewelry) Wakefield High School (Arlington, VA)

Along with her first-place victory, Aisha won two round-trip Southwest Airlines tickets and an all-expense-paid trip to New York City this fall to compete in NFTE's National Competition for up to $10,000, as depicted in the award-winning documentary, "Ten9Eight."

Julie Silard Kantor, executive director of NFTE DC Region and the national vice president for Government Affairs, explains that regional competition was a fantastic success and remarked that NFTE continues to receive high marks for its unique curriculum.

Recently, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hailed NFTE's program as "the best program in the country," and praised its "systemic approach for teaching youth small business and entrepreneurship." Also, this year, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman singled out NFTE for its good work and encouraged President Obama to use the NFTE program in high schools to inspire America's youth.

Since 1987, NFTE has reached over 280,000 youth.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Karen Seidman
    (202) 364-8134