NFIB Announces Its Top Young Entrepreneurs of 2016

Date: April 19, 2016 Last Edit: April 21, 2016

100 High School Seniors from across the country win scholarships for starting small businesses

Contact: Kelly Klass (609)713-4243 or 

Washington, D.C. (April 19, 2016) — The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Young Entrepreneur Foundation today announced the 100 scholarship winners for its 14th annual NFIB Young Entrepreneur Awards, a scholarship program designed to reward and encourage entrepreneurial talents among high school students.  This year, Visa generously donated to the Foundation to significantly increase the scholarship amounts.

“Year after year, NFIB has the great pleasure of encouraging 100 innovative, bright, and hardworking high school seniors to follow their entrepreneurial dreams,” said Molly Young, Director of the Young Entrepreneur Foundation. “The ambition and creativity that we have seen from these young entrepreneurs is truly inspirational.  These students have caught the entrepreneurial bug, and we could not be more confident in our next generation of business owners.”

Ninety-five high school seniors today were named Young Entrepreneur Award winners and will receive $2,000 scholarships.  Five additional students were named finalists for NFIB’s top two scholarships: the2016 NFIB Young Entrepreneur of the Year and the 2016 NFIB Dan Danner Leadership Award. These five finalists will be honored at a luncheon in Washington, D.C. on June 23rd where the winners for both awards will be announced.  The 2016 NFIB Young Entrepreneur of the Year award recipient will receive a $25,000 scholarship and the 2016 NFIB Dan Danner Leadership Award recipient will receive a $15,000 scholarship. The remaining three finalists will each receive a $10,000 scholarship. 

The Young Entrepreneur Award is a scholarship bestowed on high school seniors that own and operate their own small business.  This year to support and encourage young entrepreneurs, Visa donated to the Young Entrepreneur Foundation to increase all of the scholarship amounts.  

This year’s five Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award finalists are:

Gracie Schram, from Leawood, Kansas, is a singer and songwriter who has grown her talents into a career.  Gracie began singing and writing songs at a young age.  She released two original self-produced CDs in 2010 to launched Gracie Schram Music.  To date, she has performed for over 300,000 people and has generated $82,000 in revenue.  Gracie released her debut album “I am Me” last year, which reached the top 10 singer-songwriter chart on iTunes during its release week. Gracie also used her talent and business to donate over $40,000 to charity.    

Lily Sandler, from Atlanta, Georgia, founded BLAMtastic ® with her mom and sister in 2007.  BLAMtastic is a personal care product line made from all natural ingredients.  The Sandler ladies began their business by cooking lip balm in their kitchen and selling it to neighbors and at school fairs.  Lily and her family have grown their product line and now create baby care, natural skin care, and sun care.  BLAMtastic ® can be found in some of the largest retailers in the country, including: Walmart, Harris Teeter, Shop rite, and many more.  Lilly also founded The BLAMtastic® Legacy Foundation, which offers entrepreneurial education and support to women and young entrepreneurs.

Maggie Liu, from Claypool, Indiana, is the owner and designer of MXL Outfitters.  Maggie describes MXL Outfitters as one-of-a-kind apparel with clever pop-culture references for trendy teenage girls.  During the summer of 2014 when she was 16, Maggie launched MXL Outfitters as a way to earn money for concert tickets.  She asked her parents for a loan to print her first 150 designs.  Her line took off from there and now all of her designs are hand-drawn and then professionally printed onto articles of clothing. It has always been Maggie’s dream to own a clothing line.         

Nathan Paffenroth, from Brookfield, Wisconsin, is the co-owner and co-founder of Two Brothers’ Lawn Care.  Nathan’s business, which he and his brother started when Nathan was in middle school, is dedicated to providing exceptional landscaping services at an unbeatable price.  Because the brothers have expanded so much over the years, they have had to hire employees. They have never lost a client due to dissatisfaction and Two Brothers’ Lawn Care is currently the number one residential lawn mowing company in Brookfield. 

Scott Voulgaris, from Santa Barbara, California, has owned and operated since eighth grade.  Scott’s company produces, designs, and sells custom Nike Elite Basketball socks online to customers around the country and world.  He is an avid basketball player and wanted to create socks that were just as lively as the sneakers that Nike created.  He has been asked by several elite basketball teams and club programs from around the country to supply custom socks.  Scott began his website to raise money to fund research for hydrocephalus.  Since 2012 when launching the site, Scott has surpassed $1.2 million in gross sales. 

“We cannot fully express the importance of instilling entrepreneurial values in America’s youth,” Young continued.  “NFIB congratulates this year’s winners for all of their tremendous accomplishments.  We hope that the scholarships will assist these young entrepreneurs as they continue on their paths toward future success.”

To qualify for an NFIB Young Entrepreneur Award, students must be seniors in high school who own and/or operate their own small business. They are required to write an essay describing their entrepreneurial endeavors and future goals. NFIB members around the co.untry interview the applicants for the Young Entrepreneur Awards 

A full list of this year’s winners, as well as past winners, is available here.

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