Junior Achievement of Arizona has announced its 2023 18 under 18 winners — students who have started businesses and nonprofits, broken glass ceilings, volunteered or advocated for a cause. The organization says that they all have something in common: “They are not waiting until they are adults to make a difference in the world. These Arizonan students distinguish themselves with their creativity, passion, and drive.”
“Each year, we’re amazed by the next class of students,” said Katherine Cecala, CEO of Junior Achievement of Arizona. “They advocate for causes, start nonprofits to help others in our community, work with their schools to bring new ideas and programs to their schools, care about the environment or advocate for causes. They all have bright futures and we’re honored to know them.”
One of this year’s winners is Nathaniel George, a 16-year-old junior at Brophy College Preparatory.
“I am incredibly grateful and humbled for the opportunity to be recognized by Junior Achievement of Arizona and School Connect Arizona, and this experience has definitely empowered me to continue my work as a young leader,” George said.
He founded The Cactus Flower Initiative for Youth Entrepreneurship in 2022 to create more resources for students interested in business and entrepreneurship. The organization hopes to one day create legislation focused on youth entrepreneurship in Arizona and is currently working with Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee to create a “Youth Entrepreneur Day.”
“I remember feeling a little disheartened that everything at the library was for adults,” said George. “There were not any resources for young entrepreneurs. That’s when I realized I could create something to help other teens.”
To create the Initiative, the student approached the ASU J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute, Junior Achievement of Arizona and the City of Phoenix about creating more resources for students interested in business and entrepreneurship. He pitched his idea to the library and now partners with StartUpPhx to offer additional resources and perspectives to many of their programs such as their Small Business Expo, their summer Business Roadmap Series for youth and their Pitch-a-Pallooza event.
George’s other accomplishments include serving on the Burton Barr Library Teen Advisory Council, founding the Young Entrepreneurs Club at Brophy, and helping plan for the first-ever school-wide Bronco Tank (Brophy’s version of Shark Tank), among many others.
“Entrepreneurship has been reserved for adults for a long time,” said George. “Entering this field as a young person was challenging. But I have realized the power of my voice as a young person in motivating and empowering others to create change. My determination and drive to succeed has allowed me to learn new skills and gain more confidence.”