Jimmy Bailey first read about the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) in 1998 in a publication of Hillsdale College called Imprimis.
That publication chronicled a speech given by Steve Mariotti, a business person turned teacher, who made a breakthrough discovery while attempting to teach low-income youth in New York City public schools. These powerful words motivated Jimmy to begin his quest to learn more.
“I know a secret which, if fully understood by our government, business, and community leaders, could have enormous positive implications for the future of our society.
Simply put, the secret is this: Children born into poverty have special gifts that prepare them for business formation and wealth creation. They are mentally strong, resilient, and full of chutzpah. They are skeptical of hierarchies and the status quo. They are long-suffering in the face of adversity. They are comfortable with risk and uncertainty. They know how to deal with stress and conflict. These are the attitudes and abilities that make them ideally suited for breaking out of the cycle of dependency that so often comes with poverty and for getting ahead in the marketplace.
In short, poor kids are “street smart,” or what we at the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) call “business smart.” Precisely because of their poverty–that is, because of their experience surviving in a challenging world–they are able to perceive and pursue fleeting opportunities that others, more content with their lot in life, tend to miss.”
– Steve Mariotti, Founder & President, NFTE
Jimmy was inspired by these words and enrolled himself in the next NFTE class offered. He flew solo to New York City and was so impressed with what he learned; he vowed to bring it home to Charleston, South Carolina. He formed the Tri-County NFTE Coalition, a grassroots effort to train teachers to infuse this wonderful curriculum into their classroom instruction and after school programs.
“It took a passionate leader and team-builder in Jimmy Bailey and a group of committed volunteers to make it possible. Combine the team with an entrepreneur who knows how to get things done, and the dream quickly became a reality” said Dr. John Clarkin of the Tate Center for Entrepreneurship at the College of Charleston.
From the beginning, members of the Tri-County NFTE Coalition were united in their belief that by offering teachers the opportunity to take the NFTE course, their students will be equipped with the tools to be successful in the future.
Members of the business community were also convinced, as every teacher trained in the first two years was sponsored by donated funds. Whether in time, talent, or money, every contributor recognized the importance of entrepreneurship to our national and regional economy, and the importance of imparting entrepreneurial skills on students of all socioeconomic backgrounds to better prepare them for tomorrow’s dynamic environment.
After two years of training a total of 41 teachers and social workers at the College of Charleston Tate Center for Entrepreneurship using private funds, Jimmy Bailey wrote a formal request for state funding. Under the leadership of Rep. Bobby Harrell, Sen. Glenn McConnell, Sen. Hugh Leatherman, and Rep. Daniel Cooper the SC General Assembly voted to appropriate funding to propel the grassroots initiative statewide.
Youth Entrepreneurship South Carolina, or YEScarolina, is the name of a statewide effort to bring this entrepreneurship education to young people in every South Carolina school.