Chicago Student Wins NFTE Midwest Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge

Students win $3,450 in Shark Tank-style pitch competition and advance to national finals

Chicago, May 30, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Global entrepreneurship education nonprofit Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) has named six local student businesses as the winners of its annual Midwest Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. The young entrepreneurs distinguished themselves through innovative business ideas, which they will present at the national finals in New York on Oct. 10 to compete for the National Champion title and cash prizes.

Competitors pitched their original business concepts to a panel of esteemed judges, including Autumn Harmon, NFTE alumna and entrepreneur; Tim Liston, Corporate Responsibility Leader at Ernst & Young LLP (EY US); Dave Richards, General Manager of Slalom Chicago; and Renita Young, Host, Senior Markets Correspondent at Schwab Network. They selected a first-place winner to receive $1,500, a second-place winner to receive $1,000, and a third-place winner to receive $500.

The audience also selected Jaylin Metcalfe of Thornwood High School (business idea, Black Women Support) as the Fast Pitch People’s Choice winner receiving $250 and two runners up, Ay'ana Singleton of Cleveland Metropolitan Remote School (Singleton School of Etiquette & Manners) and Sayana Scott of Saint Louis Science Center (Naturals), who each received $100.

  • 1st Place: Ariana Whitaker from Thornwood High School in Chicago with her business idea DigiPlan, a rewards-based app that integrates with students’ learning management system platforms to personalize schedules and promote assignment completion to enhance productivity.
  • 2nd Place: Raahi Pachbhai from St. Louis Science Center in Missouri with her business idea Lights On, a charitable nonprofit dedicated to inclusivity for people with physical disabilities. It creates high-quality adaptive clothing and prosthetics, ensuring functionality and durability.

  • 3rd Place: Tywon Barber from Beloit Memorial High School in Wisconsin with his business idea Ty’s Tech Repair, a tech repair shop employing mostly teenage interns, led by a lead technician, for hands-on learning. Services include computer repairs, upgrades, basic hardware replacement and software issue resolution. 

“We are extremely proud of all of our youth who have competed across the Midwest,” said Dr. Scott Nasatir, NFTE Midwest Executive Director. “These young entrepreneurs are not only creating innovative ideas to solve complex problems, but they are also extremely passionate about improving their local communities, which makes us so proud of them, their teachers and families!”

The NFTE Midwest Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge was presented by EY US, Ingredion, and Slalom, with associate support from the Citi Foundation, PayPal, Santander, and Shopify, and additional support from HBK Engineering.

For media inquiries, please contact Angelika Seaman, 603-504-8554, or Denise Berkhalter, APR, 917-281-4362, at 


About NFTE

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) ignites the entrepreneurial mindset with unique learning experiences that empower students to own their futures. A global nonprofit founded in 1987, NFTE provides high-quality entrepreneurship education to middle school, high school and postsecondary students. NFTE brings the power of entrepreneurship to students, regardless of family income, community resources, special needs, gender identity, race, or ethnicity. NFTE has educated more than a million students, delivering our programs in school, out of school, in-person, online, or through hybrid models. Visit to learn more.


NFTE Midwest Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge Champion 2024 NFTE Midwest Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge Winners

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