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Teen wins runner up student entrepreneur competition

Clifton Jackson, 17, of Irving and his business CWC Pliers was a runner up in the NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge presented by the Citi Foundation in New York City.

Clifton has personal experience working as an electrician’s apprentice. On the job he discovered it is often unwise and unsafe to reach for and change tools halfway through a project. He found himself wishing there was one tool that could function in all of the ways he needed. And so, he invented it. CWC Pliers is a versatile, lightweight 3-in-1 tool developed specifically for electricians.

Not only is it cost-efficient, but it helps decrease job-completion time and increases work-place safety by reducing the number of times one has to reach for and replace a tool in a toolbelt.

“I also plan on supporting schools with electrical classes so it will help influence students to know the importance of safe work,” Clifton said. “This business could be an actual life-changer by helping me become something more than what everyone thought I would turn out to be.” Clifton plans to attend college where he would like to study business and accounting.

On Oct. 12 in New York City, Jasmine Adams from Charleston, SC won the 2017 NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, presented by the Citi Foundation, and runners up were Clifton Jackson, 17, from Irving, and Nathanael Wheadon, 18, for his business Fudged UP! Nathanael is a student at St. Charles Community College, from St. Peters, MO.

Clifton rose to the runner up position at NFTE’s National Challenge that started with over 17,000 NFTE students across the nation who created business plans with hundreds moving on to regional competitions. The top three young entrepreneurs demonstrated the entrepreneurial mindset as they presented and defended their business plans before a distinguished panel of judges while competing for funds to help grow their businesses and advance their education and careers.

“Today was such an inspiration to me. Each and every young entrepreneur who competed today – and every NFTE student – shows me that developing an entrepreneurial mindset has the power to set on a path to unlimited success.” said Shawn Osborne, CEO of NFTE. “NFTE’s goal is to activate the entrepreneurial mindset of the next generation and by doing that change individual lives for the better, improve communities and help create a strong economy. Today proved to me that this is possible. These young people are our future and we are in good hands.”

NFTE’s Entrepreneurship Pathway program prepares students in under-resourced communities for long-term academic and economic success in the 21st Century innovation economy, by activating their entrepreneurial mindset and teaching startup skills. NFTE students perform better in school, enroll in and complete higher education at increased rates, and outpace national averages in employment, business startup, and income.

“If you’re looking for a glimpse into where the future of work is headed, look no further than the NFTE National Challenge,” said Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation. “These budding entrepreneurs—full of confidence, ingenuity, and talent—make up the next generation of business, civic, and cultural leaders. That should excite anyone dedicated to investing today in the world we want to live in tomorrow. NFTE’s impactful programming is helping young people build the networks and skills that employers are looking for—from problem-solving to communications to adaptability.”


The grand prize winner, Jasmine Adams, who participated in NFTE through a program partner, YEScarolina, was one of 41 regional NFTE competition winners from across the country to battle it out for the top prize of $10,000 in startup capital. Jasmine won the top spot for her business plan for Smudgies, reusable fabric cloths that can remove makeup without the addition of water.

Judging the final round of the National Challenge were Paul Appelbaum, Co-Founder, GrubHub Seamless, Early Stage Investor and Advisor; Jason Feifer, Editor-in-Chief, Entrepreneur Magazine; Courtney Hall, Managing Director, Hillcrest Venture Partners; Angela Ivana, Founder, CosmoSafe and NFTE Class of 2006; John Froese, Head of Program and Partner Management, Citi FinTech. The Master of Ceremonies was Lauren Maillian, Speaker and Best-Selling Author.

SOURCE Citi Foundation