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FTI Receives 2012 Leavey Award


VALLEY FORGE, PA – Forward Thinking Initiatives Executive Director, Debra Campbell, was one of fifteen educators from schools throughout the United States presented with the Annual Leavey Awards for Excellence in Private Enterprise Education from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge at a gala awards dinner at the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia on Saturday, March 17, 2012.

The Leavey Awards, were established by Thomas Leavey, co-founder of the Farmers Insurance Group and his philanthropic partner and wife, Dorothy Leavey, in collaboration with the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.  The Leavey Awards is among the nation’s top honors bestowed upon outstanding teachers, at every educational level, who create and conduct programs in entrepreneurship. In praise of the recipients, Ali Velshi, CNN, Chief Business Correspondent, noted:  They are among our top educators who, in unique ways, inspire their students to become our next generation of business visionaries.

Ms. Campbell received this honor for her “Forward Thinking Initiatives” program.  Forward Thinking Initiatives is an educational organization that works with students both at-risk and gifted in the Tampa Florida area.  The Forward Thinking program teaches teens how to use their personal passions to create their own businesses.    The curriculum is unique in that it teaches practical skills through games and simulations.  The students study: career skills; financial literacy; business planning; advertising and marketing; successful negotiating; business ethics; and science and technology.  The focus is on critical and creative thinking and a “high touch” curriculum which concludes with a business plan competition.  The program is conducted in schools either during the school day or as an after school activity.  Success of the program is verified as student businesses created in the classroom continue to profit in the real world.

Prior to the awards ceremony, on Friday, March 16th at 9 a.m., the Freedoms Foundation invited Delaware Valley educators to their Valley Forge campus to discuss these prize-winning projects with the 2012 Leavey Awards recipients.

The keynote speaker for the 35th Annual Leavey Awards Celebration was Jim Smart, Chief Executive Officer of Smart Devine and serial entrepreneur.  Mr. Smart recently formed Smart Devine and Company, LLC, with longtime co-partner Rich Devine.  Through his keen anticipation of market needs and trends, Jim has been a visionary in the accounting and business advisory services industry for over twenty years.  In 1988, Jim founded his first company SMART as a sole proprietorship, and built it into one of the fastest growing full service business advisory, consulting and accounting firms in the country with revenue of more than $100 million and more than 650 employees across eleven offices.

The Freedoms Foundation was founded 63 years ago to encourage our citizens to become informed and active participants in the political and economic life of our nation.  Today Freedoms Foundation has 26 volunteer chapters located throughout the country, with more than 3,000 volunteers supporting the many programs conducted by Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.