Embedded in Austin

Aligned with Community Voices

In 2016 over 500 leaders from across the Austin community came together under the “Austin Coming Together” initiative to develop a comprehensive, community-driven roadmap and plan for the revitalization of our neighborhood. Unveiled in 2018, this plan was called the Austin Forward. Together (AFT) Quality of Life Plan (QLP)click here to read it.

It is still an active blueprint for healthy growth and development in Austin, and as a lead member of that 500-member coalition, BUILD also leads two issue committees: Youth Empowerment and Public Safety.

BUILD’s Campus transformation project is very directly aligned with the AFT QLP – addressing 6 out of 7 issue areas, 16 out of 23 strategies, and 38 priority actions across the whole plan. The smooth and successful construction of such a project would be a powerful demonstration of the AFT QLP’s strength and merit, proving the value of incorporation community voices when driving growth.

To download a complete record and description of BUILD’s alignment with each of the 38 priority actions in the AFT QLP, Click Here.
Here is a higher-level summary of the relevant issue areas and strategies.

Public Safety

(Led by BUILD community-wide)

  1. “Create high-quality prevention strategies to build a safer Austin.”
  2. “Promote high-quality intervention strategies to help at-risk residents and those impacted by the criminal justice system.”
  3. “Increase displays, activities and events of culture and peace in the community.”
  4. “Establish more safe spaces in the community for youth.”

Economic Development

  1. “Train and develop local workers and entrepreneurs.”
  2. “Build the local economy and small businesses to improve community wealth and self-sufficiency.”


  1. “Increase parents’ involvement in their children’s education.”
  2. “Increase student access to wrap-around services.”

Community Narrative

  1. “Invest in local arts and cultural centers.”
  2. “Increase the number of authentic images and stories portraying the Austin community.”
  3. “Create environments that foster health and wellness in the community.”

Youth Empowerment

(Led by BUILD community-wide)

  1. “Increase positive social connections, communications, and info shared among Austin youth.”
  2. “Prepare youth for year-round employment and career opportunities.”
  3. “Expand supportive programs for local youth’s social, emotional and physical well-being.”

Civic Engagement

  1. “Cultivate local leadership to become more effective advocates for our community.”

Coordinated with other Austin Growth

In addition to BUILD's project in South Austin, there are several other community infrastructure projects in progress across Austin - click here to see them all on a map. This is a close and collaborative community, and we all share the goal of lifting up the West Side to peace and prosperity.


The North Austin Community Center

The Center will provide 140,000 sq ft. of desperately needed sports and wellness infrastructure: cross-fit spaces, playgrounds, rentable soccer fields, basketball courts - all to support organized neighborhood leagues and outdoor education, with religious wrap-around services from By the Hand Club for Kids and Grace and Peace Church. These programs support after school programs for young people in the K-12 grades, with greater focus on elementary school-aged children, and of course children who are enrolled in school. By the Hand stays with their older youth when they can but doesn’t specifically partner with high schools or offer services for youth not in school. This makes BUILD’s focused work with this age group both in and out of schools a smooth compliment.


The ASPIRE Center

(80-100,00 sq ft) from The West Side Health Authority and Austin Coming Together is designed to provide comprehensive cradle-to-career economic support and development, from early learning to job training. Centrally located on a busy commercial corridor, ASPIRE plans to offer multi-stage, empowering life-support resources like an early learning childcare center, a fitness center, on-site senior housing, and formal job training for adults in fields ranging from healthcare to advanced manufacturing. It will be an extraordinary one-stop-shop for adults working to transform their own lives.


Laramie Bank Project

A long- vacant West Side landmark will be reborn - a $37.5 million redevelopment will preserve the former Laramie Bank's art deco exterior but rehab the interior to include a community bank and financial incubator, a cafe, and a museum celebrating the history of Chicago Blues.  Plans also include developing several surrounding lots into 72 units of mixed-income housing, connecting them to the bank building through a courtyard featuring gardens, free music concerts, garden with public art installations. As part of Chicago Avenue's transformation into the 'Soul City Corridor', the project hopes to attract local businesses, support positive public life, and increase access to financial services for local entrepreneurs.

Quotes of Support

“On behalf of the 29th Ward, I am writing in support of BUILD’s …capital project to expand its facilities and capacity to help the Austin area…Throughout the past several years, we have partnered with BUILD on numerous to provide assistance and resources to those in need.

We’ve seen the transformative impact BUILD has, and we look forward to continuing to partner with BUILD to ensure the best outcomes for youth and families impacted by trauma. We can rely on BUILD’s experience and track record, and robust, evidence-based model, already designated an Effective Program by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). BUILD excels at this work and has earned its reputation as a trusted institution that makes Chicago stronger.”

Chris Taliaferro

Alderman, 29th Ward
Chairman, Committee on Public Safety

“I believe the expanded capacity is desperately needed to meet the comprehensive needs of youth contending with trauma and facing steep barriers to success through BUILD’s programs.

BUILD is a core member of the ACT network and we have been working together to improve the quality of life for Austin residents for years now. We also collaborate for direct service, referrals, resource sharing, and coordination of activities. As a result, we’ve seen the transformative impact BUILD has on community youth and residents and know that their expanded facility will increase our ability to support the Austin community.”

Darnell Shields

Executive Director
Austin Coming Together

“I was pleased to champion this request on your behalf…The BUILD project is extremely important and I commend you on the work you’ve done to earn state support. I look forward to working closely with you and the BUILD community to get construction work started as soon as possible.”

Kimberly A. Lightford

Illinois State Senator
Majority Leader

“On behalf of the Chicago Police Department-Area Four, I am writing in support of BUILD's application for the CDI community project request for its capital project to expand its facilities and capacity to help the Austin area.

BUILD is one of our most valued partners, and we work closely with the organization through referrals, resource sharing, and coordination to ensure that youth and families receive vital services. We have partnered with BUILD on CPD Custom Notifications, Area Four Operation Safe Neighborhood, and the Area Four Revitalization Project to provide assistance and resources to those in need….

We look forward to continuing our work with BUILD to provide Chicago youth and families who are impacted by trauma and violence with the support they need to move toward healing and self-sufficiency. We also…await the new capital project and the positive impact a safe, educational, and community space will have on the Austin neighborhood.”

Ernest Cato III

Deputy Chief
Chicago Police Department-Area Four

“BUILD is seen as a hub for the community and plays a pivotal role in influencing and assisting young people most at risk of being impacted by violence… We have partnered with BUILD on multiple occasions to provide assistance and resources to those in need. We look forward to continuing our work with BUILD to provide Chicago youth and families…and also anxiously await the new capital project.”

Emma Mitts

Alderman, 37th Ward