Crystal Sanchez, a Freshman at University of California Irvine from Lawndale, CA, is the Nation’s Top Student Entrepreneur

Crystal Sanchez, a Freshman at University of California Irvine from Lawndale, CA, is the Nation’s Top Student Entrepreneur

Sanchez Wins $25,000 Grand Prize at 2015 NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in New York City, Presented by the Citi Foundation
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Wednesday, October 7, 2015 - 1:30pm

CAMPAIGN: Supporting Communities

CONTENT: Press Release

NEW YORK, Oct. 7, 2015 /3BL Media/ – College freshman, Crystal Sanchez from Lawndale, CA won the 2015 NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, presented by the Citi Foundation.

Sanchez, now a student at University of California Irvine, was awarded the top prize for her business, Guardian Locket. The prize package includes $5,000 in support of the business, a $5,000 college scholarship, and a variety of business and technical products and services totaling approximately $25,000.

When Crystal was a 12th grader at the Environmental Charter High School (ECHS) last school season, she developed her award-winning business plan for Guardian Locket, a fashionable way to protect women from sexual assault. The locket is a security signal in disguise, and through a click of a button the cellular chip embedded in the necklace sends an alert to local authorities and emergency contacts that the wearer is being attacked.

“I am thrilled and honored to win the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge,” Crystal Sanchez said. “I’ve learned so much from my teachers, classmates and fellow competitors – I can’t wait to get back to work on getting my great product out there and scaling around the country.”

At the day-long NFTE competition, runners-up included Kenneth Huertas of Downey, CA for his company, A Touch of Eco – an environmentally-friendly auto detailing service and app in the Greater Los Angeles area, and Urbana Anam & Jannatul Rowshan  of Queens, NY for their business, Urbanalifa Hijabs   – customizable and fashionable Hijabs for Muslim women looking to reveal their sense of style while maintaining their religious modesty.

Both runners-up won prize packages worth $5,000.

The winner of the sixth annual NFTE Elevator Pitch Challenge, a separate, lead-in program to the National Challenge where winners are selected by online public voting, included Jason Ramadan of Coral Springs, FL who took home $2,500 for his business, Cliff Falls, an addictive iOS gaming app that has a personalized twist of incorporating the image of the user’s face into the game experience.

All of the finalists are business plan competition winners from their respective regions and were required to develop and present original business plans as part of their entrepreneurial studies at school, based on NFTE’s award-winning, project-based curriculum. NFTE students visit area businesses, play educational games and learn from hands-on activities that teach the entrepreneurial mindset as well as business concepts.

“We’re exceptionally proud of all our students,” said Shawn Osborne, CEO of NFTE. “And we’re delighted that, through entrepreneurship, we can give young people the tools and mindset that will help them overcome adversity and address future personal, economic, community and global challenges.”

Judging the final round of the top three teams were David Chubak, Head of Productivity, Citi; Luke Cooper, Co-Founder & CEO, Peach Labs, Co. and  a NFTE Alum; Ben Darr, Founder, Brandtale, Dave Gilboa, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Warby Parker; and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Co-Founder & CEO, GLAMSQUAD and Co-Founder & Strategic Advisor, Gilt.

“NFTE students represent the next generation of great ideas, businesses and leaders,” said Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation. “These budding entrepreneurs are a testament to the inspiring work of NFTE, who has enabled these students to develop their entrepreneurial mindset and better prepare for success in today’s economy.”

Student photos, more detailed biographies and information about their businesses is available.

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship

Since 1987, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) has taught and inspired more than 600,000 young people to pursue educational opportunities, start their own businesses, and succeed in life. By providing entrepreneurship education programs relevant to the real world, NFTE empowers students to own their education and future success. NFTE has programs in 10 U.S. program offices and in 9 countries. To learn more, visit, like us on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter at @NFTE.

About the Citi Foundation

The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation's "More than Philanthropy" approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit

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