Mason, who attends Temple Shalom in Norwalk, developed a business plan he has called Premium Hebrew Tutoring as part of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship Fairchester 2011 Fairfield County Business Plan Competition, which challenges high school students to start a small business in conjunction with the NFTE curriculum taught in local schools.
"My business plan is to help young kids be better Hebrew readers, and to help them enjoy being Jewish," Mason said.
For his efforts, Mason, a student in one of Norwalk High teacher Al Morgenthaler's two NFTE business classes, won one of two first-place prizes in Norwalk High's schoolwide NFTE business plan competition, earning himself $200 and a trip to the countywide competition at Norwalk Community College Wednesday (competition was held after press time. Look for results at www.norwalkcitizenonline.com).
Mason explained that he got the idea for his plan from tutoring fourth-grade students in Hebrew at his temple.
"I enjoy what I do," he said. "I try to teach different ways to keep it interesting."
The temple holds Hebrew school on Sundays and Mondays, and Mason said he works with Hebrew teachers to help the students improve their Hebrew skills.
"With my business plan, I wanted to have one-on-one classes," he said. "I feel the students get more out of it.
"I've learned a lot about the financial part of starting a business," he added. "You have to be realistic about the money. And I also learned about organization."
Finalists from schoolwide competitions in Bridgeport, Stamford and Norwalk presented their original business plans Wednesday at NCC to a panel of distinguished judges made up of local entrepreneurs and business leaders. The first- prize winner will receive $1,500 and advance to NFTE's National Competition in New York City this fall.
During the school year, students in the NFTE program clocked up to 100 hours of classroom time led by NFTE-certified teachers. More than 300 students throughout Fairfield County developed business plans for the competition.
"It ended up being a really cool project," she said. "The business plan had to be plausible. It had to be realistic."
Bradshaw said she and Prophete saw that a number of their friends had musical talent but no outlet for that talent. She said the idea for their business grew from there. Ultimately, the plan would help get exposure for new talent through mp3 downloads, she explained.
"I think the project gave us a better idea about business in the real world," she said. "You want to keep your business plan simple and straightforward when you're developing it."
Bradshaw will further her interests in the business world by studying textile marketing when she attends the University of Rhode Island in the fall.
Joel Warren, executive director of NFTE Fairchester, said NFTE's programs are geared toward helping students not only learn more about entrepreneurship, but engaging them in school each day -- a crucial component to improving drop-out rates.
"What NFTE has done is say: What do you find relevant in your life that you'd like to learn more about?" Warren explained.
After developing their business plans throughout the year, students in the NFTE program received coaching from business executives in the spring to polish those plans. Each NFTE class has a first and second-place winner that move on to the county competition, Warren said. Top prizes there are $1,500, $750 and $500.
"Our hope is that students go to the next level," Warren said. "Our hope is they go to college, and we hope that they've gotten excited about school."