By Karen Stokes
For three decades, the Center for Teaching Entrepreneurship (CTE) has empowered young people ages 9-24.
Through CTE, young people experience personal and professional growth through programs and coaching related to financial literacy and entrepreneurship.
Franklin Buchta and ReDonna Rodgers founded the center in 1991.
“ReDonna is someone who had a clear vision of how she wanted to help young people,” Robert Birney said. “She worked in business and the community and realized if you learn about work and working in organizations this can help you to start a career. Also, the principles used in business can help you in your personal life.”
Birney is the interim executive director and board member.
The mindset of “CEO of Me” was a concept of Rodgers that empowered young people to take ownership of their futures and all the actions they will need to get there.
According to ctemke.org, participants of CTE have made positive growth:
• Of multi-year CTE students, 100% have remained drug free and stayed clear of gangs. In 19 years, only three have become young parents and all three were in college.
• 100% of CTE students who reach employment age find work, and many work in supervisory roles at very young ages.
• Of multi-year CTE students 100% have graduated from high school and gone on to college.
“Our approach is that we want to build a relationship and trust with the participants,” Birney said. “It takes time do that, and so we deliver the programs in different places, sometimes it’s in a school, maybe it’s a business teacher or a social studies teacher that sees the value of having students learn about business, job readiness, personal work skills and financial management.”
The participants also have a radio show that airs on 860 WNOV on Saturday mornings called Hustle & Grow. The show gives the students an opportunity to voice their opinions on a wide range of topics.
“ReDonna always wanted the youth to have their own voice so we were able to launch Hustle & Grow in 2017,” said Douglas Kelley, board president. “Over the years, they’ve discussed Earth Day, cyber bullying, Black History, Black women… you name it, they talk about it.”
ReDonna Rodgers passed away in 2017. The loss of the co-founder ushered in a time of change in the organization.
“We have been in a holding pattern for a long time. In 2015, with the co-founder diagnosed being sick, it was hard to separate the founder from the organization,” Kelley explained. “I made ReDonna a promise to get the organization back so the board decided after her passing that we were going to rebuild and it’s taken a long time to rebuild the organization.”
Kelley added, “I have tremendous board members because we have fought our way back. We received grants this year, the first time in a while.”
“CTE is supported by the community, organizations and individuals and what we do, we’re kind of in the middle there, where we design the curriculums, recruit schools and business people,” Birney said. “The results are that the students see opportunity and it helps them to see a place in their future as far as having professions developing abilities and what a career path might look like. It’s all because of ReDonna Rodgers and what she believed in.”
CTE has always been a strong, well-planned organization and was able to persevere after Rodgers’ passing, a change in board members and the pandemic.
“The theme for the April 30, 2022 celebration is Back in Stride Again,” Kelley revealed. “April 30 is going to be a great networking, socializing event. The menu is going to be awesome, then we party with music from Joe Jordan.”
Tickets are $50 per person and $75 per couple, for tickets go to Eventbrite #ctemke, contact Douglas Kelley at 414-788-8104 or you visit ctemke.org.
“We’re always seeking opportunities to be able to go into schools to teach our program to ages 9-21,” Kelley said. “We’re always seeking opportunities to teach financial literacy or entrepreneurship.”
To get involved, get more information, support or make a donation contact Douglas Kelley at 414-788-8104.