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Goodbye Homeboy: How My Students Drove Me Crazy and Inspired a Movement

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

5 Star Book Review

Book Description

One sunny afternoon in 1982, a young businessman experienced a terrifying mugging in New York City that shook him to his core.

Tortured by nightmares about the teens who roughed him up, Steve Mariotti sought counseling. When his therapist suggested that he face his fears, Mariotti closed his small import-export business and became a teacher at the city's most notorious public school--Boys and Girls High in Bed-Stuy.

Although his nightmares promptly ceased, Mariotti's out-of-control students rapidly drove him to despair.

One day, Mariotti stepped out of the classroom so his students wouldn't see him cry. In a desperate move to save his job, he took off his watch and marched back in with an impromptu sales pitch for it. To his astonishment, his students were riveted. He was able to successfully lead a math lesson for the first time.

Mariotti realized his students felt trapped in soul-crushing poverty. They saw zero connection between school and improving their lives. Whenever Mariotti connected their lessons to entrepreneurship, though, even his most disruptive students got excited about learning.

School administrators disapproved of Mariotti discussing money in the classroom, however. He was repeatedly fired before receiving one last-ditch assignment: an offsite program for special-ed students expelled from the public schools for violent crimes.

The success Mariotti had with these forgotten children--including coverage in the Daily News, The New York Times, and World News Tonight--inspired him to found the nonprofit Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship to bring entrepreneurship education to low-income youth.

By turns tragic and hilarious, Goodbye Homeboy shares Mariotti's flaws and missteps as he connects deeply with his troubled students, and woos the most influential people in the world into helping them--saving himself in the process.

Today, Mariotti is widely recognized as the world's leading advocate for entrepreneurship education. More than one million young people from Chicago to China have graduated from NFTE programs, and NFTE counts Sean Combs, Chelsea Clinton, Diana Davis Spencer, and many more business, entertainment, and community leaders among its staunchest supporters.

As Goodbye Homeboy powerfully illustrates, a spark of hope really can empower us to overcome life's greatest hardships.

Book Review

Goodbye Homeboy is a compelling memoir by Steve Mariotti, and was written with Debra Devi.

Mariotti, an entrepreneur turned teacher who took on the challenge of teaching at Boys and Girls High School in Bed-Stuy, New York. Mariotti's out-of-control students drove him to despair until he discovered that connecting their lessons to entrepreneurship sparked their interest in learning. This led him to found the nonprofit Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) to bring entrepreneurship education to low-income youth.

Mariotti's writing style is engaging and candid, sharing his flaws and missteps as he connects with his troubled students and woos influential people into helping them. The memoir is by turns tragic and hilarious, detailing the challenges he faced in the classroom and the success he had with special-ed students expelled from public schools for violent crimes.

One of the most inspiring aspects of Goodbye Homeboy is Mariotti's ability to find hope in the face of adversity. After his terrifying mugging, Mariotti sought counseling and eventually found a calling in teaching. Despite being repeatedly fired for discussing money in the classroom, he persisted and eventually founded NFTE, which has helped over a million young people from all over the world.

Mariotti's dedication to his students and their success is evident throughout the book. He recognized that many of them felt trapped in poverty and saw no connection between school and improving their lives. By connecting their lessons to entrepreneurship, he gave them a way to see their education as a path to a better future.

Overall, Goodbye Homeboy is a powerful memoir that shows how one person's determination can make a significant impact on the lives of many. It is a must-read for anyone interested in education, entrepreneurship, or social justice.

About Steve Mariotti

Steve Mariotti believes in the power of entrepreneurship to eradicate poverty and transform society. An entrepreneur, teacher, author and lifelong student, Mariotti is best known for starting the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) based on the insights he gained from teaching in some of New York City's toughest public schools in the '80s. Through his own teaching and through NFTE's international, Mariotti has helped more than a million students discover the power of business ownership. Verne Harnish, founder of the Young Entrepreneurs' Organization, now known as Entrepreneurs' Organization, and the Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs, called Mariotti "one of the greatest teachers of our time."

From the World Economic Forum in Davos to the pages of the New York Times, Mariotti has spent decades fighting for the rights of entrepreneurs everywhere.

A native of Flint, Michigan, he graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He has also studied at Harvard University, Stanford University, and Brooklyn College.

Connect wit Steve Mariotti

About Debra Devi

Debra Devi is a rock musician and author. Her book THE LANGUAGE OF THE BLUES: FROM ALCORUB TO ZUZU (foreword by Dr. John) won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for Outstanding Book on Music, and is surely the only book blurbed by both Bonnie Raitt and Ministry singer Al Jourgensen.

Devi is the co-author of Steve Mariotti's deeply moving and very funny memoir, GOODBYE HOMEBOY: HOW MY STUDENTS DROVE ME CRAZY AND INSPIRED A MOVEMENT. Set in the early 1980s in the South Bronx, where Mariotti taught special ed before founding the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), Goodbye Homeboy has won multiple awards, including the Nautilus award for best biography and Author of the Year from the American Human Rights Society.

Devi has also written for Rolling, Guitar, Guitar School, Guitar World, Blues Revue and The Village Voice. Learn more at


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