Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship’s “Ignite Opportunity” Gala to Honor Vox Media’s Jim Bankoff, HalfSmoke’s Andre McCain

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D.C. area Gala will also feature the regions top student entrepreneurs

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“DC’s Ignite Opportunity Gala will be an outstanding way to showcase the talents of our students as well as a great way to recognize prestigious local leaders," said Shawn Osborne, CEO and President of NFTE.

The Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) 2016 “Ignite Opportunity Gala” will honor Jim Bankoff, Chairman and CEO of Vox Media Inc., and Andre McCain, Founder of HalfSmoke, on March 3, 2016 at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. The annual event celebrates the power of activating the entrepreneurial mindset in young people and will honor the DC Region’s top entrepreneurs as well as feature alumni of the NFTE entrepreneurship program.

Since its opening in 1994, NFTE in the DC region has provided more than 27,000 students with the skills and tools needed for a successful future in school and the workforce by igniting the entrepreneurial mindset. NFTE teachers engage students from under-resourced communities, by using an innovative, applied curriculum and providing them with opportunities to pursue their passions.

At the Gala, NFTE will recognize and honor Jim Bankoff, a veteran of the online industry. Jim is the Chairman and CEO of Vox Media, a modern media company that empowers some of the smartest digital voices today with the technology to create and distribute premium content, and connect with an audience of 170 million affluent and educated young adults worldwide. Vox Media owns and operates eight media brands including, The Verge, SB Nation, Eater, Polygon, Curbed, Racked, and Re/code. Before founding Vox Media, Jim developed and led several pioneering media brands including AOL Music, Mapquest and Engadget. He also co-founded, won an Emmy award for his production of the Live8 Concerts, and oversaw AOL’s industry-leading instant AIM and ICQ, as well as social networking and community applications including Blogsmith and Netscape.

“I am honored to be recognized by NFTE, an organization that has empowered kids with real, relevant tools and hands-on learning,” said Bankoff. “In 2006, I judged a NFTE business plan competition, and the memory of the students’ confidence, and understanding of financials and complex topics resonated with me.”

A Washington, D.C. native and NFTE alumnus, Andre McCain will also be honored at the event. McCain is the founder and CEO of HalfSmoke, a gourmet sausage quick-service restaurant that will launch in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC. At 16, McCain founded his first company, with the help of NFTE at Wilson High School and in 2003, McCain was honored by NFTE as a Global Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Following his graduation from Morehouse College, McCain worked for some of the nation’s top real estate and investment firms and was inspired to apply his NFTE skills to start HalfSmoke.

“I am thrilled to be recognized by NFTE once again because the organization has been so influential in helping me achieve my dreams,” said McCain. “It’s just as important for me to now give back and inspire students to think like entrepreneurs and give them advice on what they need to get a jumpstart on their lives.”

In addition to the two pioneering honorees, 20 of NFTE DC Region’s top young entrepreneurs will also be recognized as they showcase their products and share their stories in the Youth Entrepreneurship Showcase.

“We are very proud of our successes and our students in DC and they are a great model for our programs around the world,” said Shawn Osborne, President and CEO of NFTE. “DC’s Ignite Opportunity Gala will be an outstanding way to showcase the talents of our students as well as a great way to recognize prestigious local leaders.”

About Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is an international nonprofit that activates the entrepreneurial mindset in young people and builds their knowledge about business startup. Students acquire the entrepreneurial mindset (e.g., innovation, self-reliance, comfort with smart risk), alongside business, STEM, and presentation skills—equipping them to drive their best futures in the 21st Century. NFTE focuses its work on under-resourced communities with programs in 23 locations in 10 countries. To learn more, visit, like NFTE on Facebook at, or follow us on Twitter at @NFTE.

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