5th Annual Philanthropy Awards: BUILD, Inc.

5th Annual Philanthropy Awards: BUILD, Inc.

Most recently updated: December 2020

Since 1969, BUILD, Inc. has helped tens of thousands of vulnerable youth in Chicago escape gangs, resist violence, and become positive community leaders. With facilities in Austin and Humboldt Park, BUILD mentors help young people get mental health care, stay in school, and discover their own passions and potential.

Executive Director Adam Alonso has been working closely with BUILD, Inc., first as a volunteer and currently as executive director, for 25 years, during which he’s “observed BUILD’s mission in action as the organization invests each year in more than 2,000 young people who have the highest intensity of need and risk, and who live in communities that face the greatest challenges.”

BUILD’s Intervention Program serves youth ages 11-14. This special program “addresses the individual and social risk factors associated with participation in gangs, crime and violence, mitigates their impact and promotes resiliency.” The program’s Intervention Specialists, including former offenders with strong ties to the community, mentor the program’s youth and work with them on academic engagement and support, life skills, the arts and gang detachment.

BUILD has four other special programs, including Prevention After-School Programming, Education Coaching towards college and beyond, Clinical and Community Wellness, and Enrichment. All these services are integrated to wrap around each youth, providing a custom network of support and encouragement. 


What makes BUILD truly so incredible are the success stories of the young people the Intervention Program has helped over the course of BUILD’s nearly 50 years in operation. Jabriel, an 18-year-old college student who is now thriving at Kishwaukee College in Malta, Illinois, entered BUILD after being in and out of foster homes for seven years. With the help of his BUILD mentor Booney, he found someone to count on, and his successes are a reflection of BUILD’s astounding work.

BUILD, Inc. has been in operation for 51 years. Since Better recognized BUILD, Inc. for their dedication to the community in 2017, the organization has continued to do great work for Chicago youth population. Below are some updated statistics.

BUILD, Inc. By the Numbers 2019:

  • 2,533 young people engaged in programs in 2019
  • 96% of youth reported stronger healthy conflict resolution skills
  • 85% of youth with prior court involvement did not recidivate (Illinois average: 40%)
  • Intervention staff helped 32 youth detach from gangs, and reconnected 34 to school
  • 100% of youth were promoted to the next grade
  • 98% of youth in prevention programs avoided gang involvement and addictive substances
  • 95% of youth who had been either suspended or expelled from schools reported a decrease in further disciplinary actions
  • 86% of high school students on track to graduate (City average: 80.9%)
  • 80% of youth completed FAFSA enrollment to prepare for college applications and admission
  • Protected online spaces host 500+ participants daily. BUILD’s mental health teams regularly see 400+ clients, and adding more each month.
  • Annual cost per youth for incarceration in Illinois: $187,765. Annual cost per youth for intensive BUILD mentoring: $2,000

This article is part of our 5th Annual Philanthropy Awards series. Find more of our winners here:

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