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2013 Top-Rated Nonprofit

BUILD

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Community Improvement & Capacity Building, Education, Secondary & High Schools, Youth Development - Business

Mission: Through entrepreneurship-based, experiential learning, BUILD ignites the potential of youth in under-resourced communities and equips them for high school, college and career success.

Results: Since 1999, BUILD has: Incubated over 750 youth businesses Partnered successfully with over 20 schools Expanded service from one city to five Grew budget from $37,000 to $12M Grew staff from 1 to over 100 Since 2012, 98% of students completing the BUILD program graduate from high school on time, and 98% of those are accepted to at least one post secondary opportunity

Target demographics: BUILD works with 1,425 under-resourced students, most of whom will be the first generation in their family to succeed in college and are considered highly disengaged, meaning they have low GPAs, low standardized test scores and infrequent attendance.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 99% of BUILD seniors graduated from high school, 100% of graduating seniors were admitted to at least one college, 90% were admitted to at least one four-year university and 70% enrolled in college.

Geographic areas served: San Francisco Bay Area, Washington D.C. and Boston, MA, New York, NY, Los Angeles, CA

Programs: BUILD works with high school students at-risk for dropping out of school. Our four-year college preparation program begins as a ninth-grade class and uses entrepreneurship as a vehicle to teach academic, business and executive functioning skills. Entrepreneurship is a powerful hook, but college is the goal. By helping students start up and run their own small businesses, BUILD supplements traditional school with real-world professional experiences, academic support and 21st Century skill-building. By equipping students with these college and career readiness skills, BUILD reduces high school drop-out rates and gives youth hope and a promising future in college

Community Stories

35 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I've served as an academic mentor at BUILD for a little over two full
school years now, and primarily tutor mathematics and physics. It's great to play even a small role in helping students out who might not otherwise have that extra bit of guidance.

However, as I enjoy the subjects that I'm helping out with, I feel that I get as much out of the interactions as the students do, and hope that I can pass along some of my enthusiasm for these subjects.

I have also found that BUILD students are very capable of adult behavior and interaction. I'm always impressed at their level of dedication, preparation, and diligence.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

BUILD is a fantastic organization which betters the lives of all that participate (including mentors and staff). If there were more programs like this our world would be a much better place.

rogersa

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm a new member to BUILD, joining in 2011 as a mentor and gala committee volunteer. I heard so many great things about this org and have been more than impressed with everyone I've met so far (students, mentors, advisers and staff / board members). Each person has had such a great story of why they decided to get involved. Getting to see a student presentation at the mentor orientation really put a perspective on how important this cause is. I'll be meeting our students next week and cannot wait!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In 2008 I started to volunteer weekly with a group of freshman students. I've been consistently impressed by their transformation through BUILD. BUILD gave us dedicated teachers and staff that worked with the students in depth to lay down a solid foundation for the mentors (us volunteers) to build upon in our weekly sessions. Over each school year the shyest students became sharp salesmen, the math-nervous students confidently discussed financials forecasts for their small businesses, and - most importantly - the students who weren't interested in school are now applying to college. BUILD engages students.

It's been an honor to be involved with BUILD and I'll continue to work with the group as long as I can!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with BUILD for four years helping high school freshmen to write a business plan and present it at a business plan competition to corporate executives and venture capitalists from the Silicon Valley. The experience has been awesome for me each year. Helping the students to realize their passion for business, challenge themselves to go beyond what they thought they are capable of, and make the decision that they will be the first in their family to go to college are what I find most rewarding about the experience. Each and every week, I truly have a sense that I am making a difference.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering with BUILD after learning about the program through a social entrepreneurship class. I was so impressed with the enthusiasm and passion of everyone in the organization. Their hearts are truly in it 110 percent. I was so inspired by the stories I heard and the people I met, that I've mentioned BUILD to almost every entrepreneur I've encountered. It's truly a special organization. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great cause!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have served as a tutor, fundraiser, and business mentor at BUILD since 2005 and highly recommend the organization. I've really seen the impact of the program by getting to know individual students over the course of their high school career. The most exciting is to see a student who did not want to go to college get accepted to a four-year university.

Marc T

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The BUILD program is truly incredible! With a perfect record for getting their students into college, there is little room to argue about the efficacy of the program.
I had been looking for a mentoring program where the students are more motivated to participate. The BUILD program is different because the students must apply for entry each year and nearly all of them stay with the program throughout all four years of high school. With the aid of the mentors and the staff these students draft a 30-page business plan and compete against several other teams while running their own small business. After only a few short months, I began to see the passion and dedication that these young people brought to the mentor sessions each and every week as they cultivated their businesses. It was truly remarkable and personally rewarding.
The connection I made with my students has shown them that adults are capable of caring about their ideas and what they have to say. Furthermore, it has shown them that with proper guidance, even the seemingly unattainable goal of starting their own business is possible.
That’s why I will continue to do all that I can to support this organization for many years to come and I encourage others to do the same. Anyone out there looking to become a mentor should give BUILD a try. I promise it will be a life-changing experience that you and your students will not soon forget.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was first introduce to BUILD in 2009 and immediately fell in love with the kids and the program. In 2011 I chaired their first Gala and joined the National Board this past June. BUILD is a perfect non-profit for those of us looking to connect our entrepreneurial passions with helping kids make a better life for themselves and their families.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What a wonderful organization! I had the pleasure of working with them during graduate school as well as serving as a guest judge following graduation. The thing that always impressed me about BUILD is that their results are incredible, but they refuse to rest on their laurels. Whereas many non-profits would be satisfied with "great," they constantly ask the question "how can we do even more?" They've already accomplished so much, and I'm excited for what they'll continue to do.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the great pleasure of hosting BUILD's first Washington office, serving on its local advisory board and serving as a judge at its events. It is a fantastic organization with an outstanding record of results in keeping at risk students in high school, engaged and headed sucessfully to higher education. Unlike other programs, BUILD are not "cream skimmers" and can benefit any high schooler. When former BUILD students testify to their success in college and after it is difficult to keep the tears from your eyes

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have the honor of being both a long-time BUILD volunteer and a donor.

I mentored one of the first teams of BUILD students over 10 years ago, and I have seen the remarkable impact the program has had on hundreds of kids over the years.

BUILD bases its programming on entrepreneurship. Over the years, led by a dynamic and brilliant staff, they have designed and implemented a curriculum that really motivates students - young people who feel disengaged with high school and who "don't see the point" in studying math and other core subjects.

BUILD allows students to create small businesses; these are not theoretical exercises. Rather, young people form teams and come up with ideas for products and services. Currently, BUILD runs the nation’s largest youth incubators.

I've seen firsthand how their mission of using entrepreneurship to excite and propel disengaged, low-income students through high school and on to college has positively impacted hundreds of young people.

BUILD is an excellent volunteer experience as well as an incredibly high impact investment.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

BUILD uses entrepreneurship as a way to re-engage students that many others would leave behind. As a volunteer with the students, I have felt well trained and supported. I have also felt that BUILD is very organized and well run - like a successful corporation. The staff is professional and helpful and the students (although a more difficult population to work with then other college programs serve) truly are transformed. I am very excited to see BUILD scaling to new communities - the program (I have been involved for 4 years) just keeps getting better and better.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I've tutored at BUILD for 3 academic years and am just starting a 4th year. I tutor at-risk youth in math & science for about 1.5 hrs/week. Definitely hard at times to get the kids engaged, but I've had many positive experiences tutoring kids there.

There is also a really cool business side to BUILD. The kids form teams and start small businesses. I've never personally gotten involved in that, but I love going to the business sales events and seeing how proud the kids are of what their businesses do.

Margaret23

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Mentor some at-risk teens? Teach them how to write a business plan? Form long term relationships and support students as they raise their GPAs and apply to college? I had no idea what to expect when I started volunteering with BUILD as a business mentor three years ago.

I was assigned a group of four girls and one boy my first year with BUILD. I learned a lot about the BUILD program right along with my students and realized I had a lot to teach them as I helped them write assignments, deliver presentations, and calculate financial projections. Moreover, I discovered how much they responded to me consistently showing up to work with them, assuming they are going to college, and treating them like smart, responsible, young adults.

When the students launched their business, they immediately started running into problems. Their product didn't sell like they thought it would. Some team members left the team and some left the BUILD program. It was a very discouraging time. The students experienced ups and downs of business ownership just as real entrepreneurs do.

I have now started my fourth year with my mentees and I have seen them change and mature dramatically over the course of high school. They are better about self-starting, voicing their opinions, asking for resources, and sharing news and stories with me. I care about my student's success and happiness and that's what keeps me coming to BUILD.