The Center for Teaching Entrepreneurship (CTE) celebrated 20 years of empowering Milwaukee’s Youth at the Annual “Harvest of Hope Dinner” held Thursday, November 17, 2011 at Marquette University in the Alumni Memorial Union Ballroom in downtown Milwaukee. “We are so thankful for our guest sponsors, Hupy & Abraham, Johnson Controls, Quarles & Brady, Miller Coors and the Fellowship Open”, said ReDonna Rodgers, CTE Founder & Executive Director.


This year’s event started with a silent auction. The auction is used to raise funds for the CTE scholarship program.Hupy&Abraham,S.C.was a table sponsor and the firm donated a laptop computer to be auctioned off. Attorney Michael F. Hupy has been committed to CTE since the beginning.  He served as Board President for more than a decade and continues to serve as a Board member. “This law firm believes in the mission of CTE, to empower and inspire young people to become all that can be through personal and professional growth”, said Attorney Hupy.


Twins Roshaun and Roshea Fullilove performed a musical selection during the silent auction. Felix Ramsey sang the national anthems and a song he wrote. Tabria Wilkinson known in the musical world as Ms. Breeze sang the 20th anniversary song. Giovanni Garner gave a marvelous poetic recital and designer Jessika Jones gave us a fashion show featuring her clothing line“ Jessika J”. Michael Crowder entertained us with several wonderful piano selections and Ryan Gray gave the invocation.


The evening also included dinner, an awards presentation and keynote speaker, Giacomo ‘Jack” Fallucca, Owner, President and Chief Executive Officer, Palermo’s Pizza delivered an inspirational speech. Mr. Fallucca has 30 years of experience in the food industry working in the family business. He offered some sound advice and words of encouragement to the youth.


The mission of CTE is to empower young people ages 9-24 by encouraging them to see themselves as the CEO of Me. CTE’s signature programs are CEO of Me (Your life is your Business) WAGE (We are Girl Entrepreneurs) and I Can Be My Own Boss. In 2011 the organization has focused on I can Be My Own Boss as well as coaching and supporting Alum. CTE’s programs covered 4 modules: Self Awareness, Entrepreneurial Thinking, Financial Concepts and Community and Cultures.


Over the past 20 years CTE has empowered more than 18,000 youth with the mindset they call “The CEO of Me” which provides them with the necessary tools to take ownership of their future. Eighty percent of elementary students who participate in CTE stay on through middle school and seventy percent of those stay connected throughout high school. Nearly sixty percent come back to the program to serve as mentors and speakers. CTE not only teaches business skills, they teach life skills. One hundred percent of CTE students remain drug free, stay clear of gangs and have not become teen parents. Plus, one hundred percent of them who reach employment age find employment, many in supervisory roles.


CTE students have established sixty home based business and six sustainable retail businesses. They have won awards at the National Young Entrepreneur Conference and participated in professional internships. Eighty nine percent of CTE’s multi-year students pursue post-secondary education after graduation. The entire CTE staff has certification from the UWM Youth Worker and the Edgewood College of Financial Literacy programs.


Founder and Executive Director ReDonna Rodgers has been featured in books, national publications and documentaries including Time and Black Enterprise magazines and the PBS Documentaries “Urban Renewal”,” Reclaiming Our neighborhoods” and “These Kids Mean Business”. Ms. Rodgers also received the New York-based Manhattan Institute’s Social Entrepreneur Award and the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Women of Influence Award. When you think about a success story and an individual that is committed the youth of this city, you think ReDonna Rodgers.


It’s been 20 years and CTE continues to grow. The goals of the organization for 2012-2014 are to launch the CEO Leadership Academy where young people will be trained to manage CTE departments including Communications and Community Affairs programs. Another goal is to raise $165,000 in scholarship donations to bring CTE programs such as “I Can Be My Own Boss and WAGE” to 150 more young people. Finally, CTE plans to form strategic partnerships with business to increase the infrastructure and expand where and how programs are offered.