Steve Mariotti is the founder of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) and an advocate for entrepreneurs worldwide. His latest book, An Entrepreneur’s Manifesto, makes a convincing case for the power of entrepreneurship to combat poverty, terrorism and totalitarianism.
Widely considered a leading expert in education for low-income youth, Mariotti left a successful business career in 1982 to become a Special Ed teacher in such New York City neighborhoods as East New York, Brooklyn, and Fort Apache in the South Bronx. Frustrated at first by his rowdy classrooms, Mariotti discovered he could reach and motivate even his most challenging students by teaching them how to run a small business. This experience inspired him to create NFTE in 1987 to bring entrepreneurship education to low-income youth, and empower them to create their own pathways out of poverty.
Over 600,000 young people have graduated from NFTE programs. NFTE operates in 22 states and 12 countries, and has used the entrepreneurship education curriculum Mariotti developed to train more than 11,000 teachers worldwide. NFTE runs programs in the U.S., South Africa, Ireland, Israel, Belgium, China, the Netherlands, Germany, India, and the United Kingdom, and is opening new programs in the West Bank and New Zealand. NFTE was the subject of the film Ten9Eight: Shoot for the Moon, about which Tom Friedman wrote in the New York Times: “Obama should arrange for this movie to be shown in every classroom in America. It is the most inspirational, heart-warming film you will ever see.”
When he founded NFTE, Mariotti discovered there were no textbooks available for teaching entrepreneurship to young people, so he wrote groundbreaking textbooks for NFTE courses, including the Golden Lamp Award-winning high-school textbook Entrepreneurship: Starting and Operating a Small Business (now in its 11th edition), and the junior college textbook Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management. Mariotti is also the author of the popular Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting and Running a Business. In total, Mariotti has authored or co-authored 34 books, textbooks, workbooks and manuals related to entrepreneurship. Approximately 1.2 million copies have been sold or donated worldwide, including to prison programs like ITEM (Inmates Teaching Entrepreneurship and Mentoring), which Mariotti co-founded with Joe Robinson in 2004.
Mariotti is the recipient of numerous awards including the Bernard A. Goldhirsh Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the National Director’s Entrepreneurship Award from the Minority Business Development Agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the Association of Education Publishers’ Golden Lamp Award, the ACE/Currie Foundation Humanitarian Venture Award, and America’s Top High School Business Teacher. The math curriculum he created for NFTE was voted Best in Category for High School Students by the Association of Educational Publishers.
Mariotti has been an active member of the Council on Foreign Relations for eleven years. He has been an attendee and speaker at the World Economic Forum for nine years, where he, Daniel Rubuzzi and three other educators presented their landmark policy paper “Educating the Next Wave of Entrepreneurs.” In 2013, Mariotti traveled to Southeast Asia as a U.S. State Department guest on a mission to spread entrepreneurial education to youth from emerging economies. His Huffington Post columns on the Cambodian genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979 were credited by the Cambodian press as key to continuing the trials of former Khmer Rouge leaders, most of whom were convicted in 2014. He is a featured speaker at conferences and seminars such as the Aspen Ideas Festival, and at such universities as Harvard, Columbia, Yale and Babson College.
After attending high school in Flint, Michigan, Mariotti received his B.B.A in economics and his M.B.A. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Mariotti began his professional career as a treasury analyst for Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan, where he was the youngest senior analyst in Ford’s history, and assisted legendary senior VP of Ford Finance J. Edward Lundy from 1975-1979. While at Ford, Mariotti drafted, with the help of anti-apartheid activist Leon Sullivan, Ford’s initial policy statement against apartheid in 1978. Mariotti left Ford in 1979 and moved to New York City to start his own company, Mason Import/Export Services, in New York City.
Mariotti has also studied at Harvard University, Stanford University, Brooklyn College, Babson College and enjoys attending lectures on physics at the Institute for Advanced Studies in his current hometown, Princeton NJ. His hobbies include collecting rare books, chess and long walks.