Considered one of today’s leading experts in education for at-risk youth, Steve Mariotti changed career paths back in 1982 when he decided to move from the corporate sector and become a special education teacher in the New York City school system. Mr. Mariotti’s first assignment was in the East New York section of Brooklyn, and his last was in the Fort Apache section of the South Bronx.
While teaching in this hard-hitting environment for six and one half years, Mr. Mariotti gained insight into how to successfully motivate his tough students – teaching them how to run a business. His perceptions and learnings inspired him to create a program to bring entrepreneurial education to low-income youth. In 1987, the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was formed.
Now, almost twenty years later, NFTE’s mission is to teach entrepreneurship and help youth from low-income communities become economically productive members of society by improving their academic, business, technological, and general life skills. The program has a proven track record of success. It is frequently used as a model for other programs to teach business knowledge and the resulting business formation. NFTE has reached over 150,000 young people since its founding and has programs in 28 states and 13 countries outside the United States.
Mr. Mariotti is the recipient of numerous awards including an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the National Director’s Entrepreneurship Award from the Minority Business Development Agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Association of Education Publishers’ Golden Lamp Award, the ACE/Currie Foundation Humanitarian Venture Award, America’s Top High School Business Teacher, and most recently, the Bernard A. Goldhirsch Award for Entrepreneurial Advocacy. He has been the subject of many national media profiles including ABC Evening News and 20/20. In addition, he is the co-author of eight books on entrepreneurship. NFTE is an active member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Mr. Mariotti has attended The World Economic Forum and has been a frequent speaker at Davos as well as other business forums.
A native son of Flint, Michigan, Mr. Mariotti received his B.B.A. in business economics and his M.B.A. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He has also studied at Harvard University, Stanford University, and Brooklyn College. He started his professional career as a treasury analyst for Ford Motor Company before founding his own company, Mason Import/Export Services.