BALTIMORE - Two Baltimore City students from humble beginnings are looking to make it big in New York City.
Alexander Hobbs, a Junior at National Academy Foundation and Shawn Curtis, a Senior at Reginald F Lewis High School are finalists in a national entrepreneurship competition with a grand prize worth $10,000.
"I am honored because there are a lot of young men out there that would love to be in my position right now so I consider it an honor and a privilege and a blessing to have this opportunity," said Shawn Curtis, a finalist.
Their concepts are simple. Shawn started Donte's Cleaning Service. It's a Cleaning Service for the elderly and disabled.
While Alex came up with Ezeey Breeze Air Freshners. It's an organic air freshener to help allergy sufferers.
"It's made to help allergy sufferers like myself because when I was little my mom used to make her own home version and that inspired me to start the company," said Alexander Hobbs, a finalist.
Growing up on the streets of Baltimore's Inner City has been challenging, but the young men have managed to stay focused, stay positive and keep their eye on the prize.
"As a young African American in school you have to be careful of who you surround yourself with so I try to surround myself around positive people that influence me to do positive things and keep me on track," said Curtis.
"It's not always the easiest thing in the world, but the rewards are definitely worth it," said Hobbs.
Having a mentor in their lives has made a big difference.
"If we could show more Alex's out there so that other young people can see Alex and see him thriving and growing and achieving and accomplishing things then they are going to want to do that too," said Raymond Lucas, mentor for Alex Hobbs.
"Shawn and Alex are on the right track. They are doing what is expected and that is to own your own business and be your own boss," said Dr. Barney Wilson, Principal of Reginald F Lewis High School and mentor for Shawn Curtis.
The National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge teaches young people to grab educational opportunities and start their own business.
"We feel that they need an outlet or an additional resource to show them that they have other options rather than working for other people," said Katie Schroeder with Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).
Only 31 students were selected as finalists in the competition. The winner will receive $10,000 at an award ceremony on Tuesday October 5th in New York City.
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