Violence on the street and chaos at home was the only life high school freshman Anays Antongiorgi knew.
That all changed when she became active in Broader Urban Involvement and Leadership Development (BUILD), a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that takes at-risk youth from the margin into the mainstream.
Antongiorgi bonded with BUILD staff and her peers through fun activities, like basketball, lunch and movies. Once she felt comfortable, she joined BUILD’s youth council, planning fundraisers, attending aldermen’s meetings and visiting Chicago landmarks.
“BUILD continues to invest in me, and all the young people they work with who may not feel valued or realize they have rich futures to look forward to,” she says. “In a city plagued with violence and communities that are starved for any type of resources, that holistic support and investment can be the difference from graduating college or ending up on a memorial card.”
Today, Antongiorgi, 27, is a degreed, gainfully employed social worker.
BUILD serves about 3,500 at-risk youth between the ages of 6 and 27, in 11 of the city’s roughest communities, reaching out to them on the streets and through a multitude of in-school, after-school and out-of-school clubs.
Its in-school, 10-week prevention program gives youth the strength to stay away from crime, gangs and violence.
BUILD’s intervention programs offer youth who have been arrested on minor charges an alternative to jail, while equipping incarcerated youth with case management services while detained that continue upon their release.
“We work with young people who have some of the greatest challenges and the fewest opportunities in our communities,” says Dr. Roslind Blasingame-Buford, executive director of BUILD. “Young people who drop out of school, have been or are incarcerated, are not doing well academically, have a high rate of truancy or are involved in a gang.”
Replicated nationally and globally because of its success rate, the BUILD model “builds futures” by assisting youth with college and career preparations, as well as the necessary health and wellness services.
BUILD’s clubs provide tutoring and a chance to shine through the arts, entrepreneurship, environmental education, public speaking and recreational activities.
Support BUILD by becoming a board member or attending its upcoming events and fundraisers.
- Public speaking competition, Tuesday, April 8, from 6-8 p.m., BUILD headquarters, 5100 W. Harrison St., Chicago
- Trivia Night, Wednesday, April 9, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Standard Bar & Grill, 1332 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
- Annual dinner, Friday, May 2, 5 p.m., Soldier Field, 1410 Museum Campus Dr., Chicago