From Chicago Violence to Center Stage: Teens Recount the Pivotal Role of BUILD

Philanthropy Award winner BUILD Chicago (Broader Urban Involvement & Leadership Development) kicked off the summer with a record-breaking evening marking the organization’s 50th anniversary. Held May 3, the Annual Gala welcomed over 800 guests to the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier. Together, BUILD and its supporters raised $1,067,000 — a record high — in support of the organization’s youth programming.

BUILD is a nationally respected nonprofit focused on gang intervention, violence prevention, and youth development. Through its programming and mentorship, BUILD trains today’s youth to become tomorrow’s leaders.

“Fifty years of impact doesn’t come easy,” said Adam Alonso, BUILD CEO. “Friday’s success is a testament to the hard work and generosity of thousands of BUILDers.”

During the dinner, BUILD youth participants shared personal narratives manifesting the significant impact of the programs.

Latee Smith, 18, shared his experience with Chicago gun violence. After being caught in the crossfire, Smith was shot. He credits his BUILD mentors for helping him resist the temptation to retaliate. Smith also shared the influence the organization has had on continuing his education.

BUILDing Futures helps youth see themselves as college-bound students through campus tours across the country.

Awards were presented to long-standing supporters throughout the evening. Christine and John Bakalar received the Lifetime BUILDer Award for decades of dedication to the Chicago nonprofit. Target Corporation accepted BUILD’s Corporate Angel Award for the generous support of the Strong Bodies Initiative. Additionally, The MacArthur Foundation was honored for its commitment to Chicago’s youth and its recent $1 million grant to the organization.

“We look to the future with excitement as we continue to grow and strengthen our programs to become an even brighter beacon of hope on Chicago’s West Side,” Alonso said.

Learn more about BUILD and how to get involved in the Chicago community.

BUILD Chicago: Toni Preckwinkle, Commander Zeita Merchant, Adam M. Alonso, Kim Foxx
L to R: Toni Preckwinkle, President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners; Commander Zeita Merchant, PhD, Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Chicago; Adam M. Alonso, Chief Executive Officer, BUILD, Inc.; Kim Foxx, Cook County State’s Attorney; and Mother of Commander Zeita Merchant, PhD.
BUILD Chicago: Ricardo Miranda, Mr. Charles Anderson, Adam M. Alonso
L to R: Ricardo Miranda, Manager of Arts Program, BUILD, Inc.; Mr. Charles Anderson, Principal, Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet High School; and Adam M. Alonso, Chief Executive Officer, BUILD, Inc.
BUILD Chicago
BUILD youth perform during the 50th annual celebration.
BUILD Chicago: Avy Stein
L to R: Avy Stein, Founder and Chairman, Cresset Partners; and two gala guests.

Emily Stone earned a degree in journalism from Elon University in North Carolina. Along with writing, Stone has a passion for digital storytelling and photography. Her work has been published in Chicago Athlete Magazine. Stone is a supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Stone is a fluent Spanish speaker who in her free time loves a good dance class.