At the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s (NFTE) annual Chicago Metro Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge on Tuesday, May 21, 2019, three finalists took to the stage at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in downtown Chicago to pitch their business plans to an esteemed panel of judges. For the first time ever, all three competitors were from Holy Trinity High School.

The road to nationals began on May 15 with the semi-finals. Out of the 3,000 NFTE students in the Chicago Metro region, 36 were selected to the challenging semi-final round. From there, just three finalists were chosen to advance to finals:

  • Jennifer Rios Lopez, a junior at Holy Trinity, with Smarty Pants, a cloth diaper that incorporates smart technology that alerts parents when it’s time to change the diaper, helping prevent diaper rash while saving the environment.
  • Gabriel Sheikh, a junior at Holy Trinity, with Presistant, an app that uses AI technology to help analyze and improve users presentation skills.
  • Aaron Trinidad, a junior at Holy Trinity, with Lender, an app that quickly and effectively matches volunteers with non-profits.

Taking the stage at finals, each competitor delivered a seven-minute pitch in front of a panel of judges from EY, Slalom, and AT&T along with a full audience, followed by a three-minute question and answer period. Finally, the votes were tallied and the winners were announced. Taking home $500 in third place was Jennifer Rios Lopez. Finishing second, with a $1,000 prize was Aaron Trinidad. First place winner Gabriel Sheikh won $1,500. Both Gabriel and Aaron now advance to the national competition which will be held in New York City in October, with a $17,000 prize up for grabs.

“I am incredibly proud of our students,” says teacher Angela Miceli. “All three competitors put so much heart and hard work into their presentations. The NFTE staff shared with me that after seeing thousands of pitches over the years, Jennifer, Gabriel, and Aaron’s stand out as being among the very best they’ve ever seen. These students have come so far, especially when you think back to our lessons in the fall, when we began with learning what entrepreneurship is and how to brainstorm ideas, to seeing these three present well-developed, thoroughly researched, exciting business plans to judges from the business world. Each of them shows the potential to not only win at nationals next fall but to become successful entrepreneurs in the future.”

Holy Trinity is the only Catholic high school in Chicago to offer NFTE’s entrepreneurship course, which has been offered for six years. The class is part of Holy Trinity’s honors B-STEM program.

Congratulations to all three competitors and teacher Angela Miceli!

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