ROCHESTER, N.Y. — One of the latest efforts to stop violence in Rochester will attempt to break the cycle of poverty that local leaders say creates dangerous neighborhoods. 

Nakia Vargas has been punching numbers since she was 18.  

“Coming from a single-family household where it was just our mother raising us, it was always important to know how to handle our money,” said Vargas.

Now she owns Vargas Financial Services, where she helps teach small businesses to do the same.  

“People want to learn and they come back time after time because as they’re growing they want to know the next step," Vargas said. "So now that I know the bookkeeping, how do I file my taxes? Now that I can file my taxes, how do I upgrade to a 501-C3?”

But her love for teaching doesn’t end there.  

This year she launched the Young CEO program, where teens from across Monroe County can eat, network and not just learn how to launch a business of their own — but actually do it.  

This includes registering for a DBA business license and opening a business banking account.  

“It doesn’t feel like a class," said student Ramir Wearen. "It almost feels like a family in a way. So I think she’s done a great job of creating that space.”

Wearen will graduate from high school and the program this summer and owns his own landscaping business. He also hopes to launch his own clothing brand.

“After I graduate this program, I definitely will have way more knowledge on what it takes to have a business and I can capitalize on what I’ve learned,” Wearen said.

He says the skills Nakia teaches come from a very real place.

“I just think she understands what it takes to be a young entrepreneur because she started out as a young entrepreneur," he said. "So I feel like she knows our age is an advantage.”

And for Nakia, she feels this is her true calling.

“Everybody has a reason why they’re on this earth," said Vargas. "And I feel my reason is to educate people and help them become more financially responsible and understand poverty isn’t something that has to be their end-all.”

To see part two of this story, click here.