Frequently Asked Questions


What does BUILD do?

BUILD engages Chicago’s at-risk youth in schools and on the streets to help them reach their full potential. We provide positive alternatives to gangs, violence, and other threats, and do whatever it takes to support youth success -- whether it’s help leaving a gang, violence prevention, arts programs, or help finding a job or getting into college. We work in challenging neighborhoods like Austin, Humboldt Park, East Garfield, Fuller Park, Logan Square, and Hermosa using a nationally-known model that has transformed thousands of lives since 1969.

How old are the youth BUILD serves?

BUILD serves youth as young as 6 and up to age 27.

Where does BUILD offer programs?

BUILD is a beacon in neighborhoods that need us most.  We had our beginnings in the Humboldt Park community in 1969, and now serve young people in several of Chicago's neighborhoods - while continuing to provide support in other Chicago neighborhoods and throughout Cook County.

What makes BUILD effective?

  1. We go where the need is--the most under-resourced neighborhoods in Chicago
  2. We go where the youth are--in schools, in the courts and on the streets.
  3. We meet young people where they're at--whether it's help leaving a gang, getting extra academic support, navigating a difficult situation at home, providing counseling or other services, or exploring options for college and career
  4. We care. The staff at BUILD are committed to young people and create supportive, lasting relationships where youth feel a sense of community and possibility.

Prevention: We work in schools and community to help youth resist negative behavior and stay positive
Intervention: Mentoring and safe alternatives for gang- and justice- involved youth
BUILDing Futures: Preparing for college, the workplace, and life after high school

How does BUILD fund its programs?

BUILD funds it programs through combination of government and foundation grants and individual contributions.  84% of BUILD's budget goes to the programming that directly impacts young people's lives and points them toward a successful future.

How can I support young people in Chicago?

What is a Gang?

BUILD has a number of volunteer opportunities to fit every comfort level, skill set and time availability.
Call us at 773-227-2880 to learn more.

Illinois Law defines a criminal street gang as any ongoing organization, association, or group of three or more persons, whether formal or informal, (i) which has as one of its primary objectives or activities the commission of one or more criminal activities; (ii) which has an identifiable name or identifying sign or symbol; and (iii) whose members individually or collectively have engaged in the commission of, attempt to commit, conspiracy to commit, or solicitation of two or more predicate criminal acts, at least one of which is an act of violence, provided such acts were not part of a common act or transaction.

Guide to Gangs

Answers to common questions about gangs


As a pioneering agency in street intervention services with a half century of experience, our voice is integral to discussions about gang intervention, prevention, education, and juvenile justice issues impacting the city of Chicago and beyond. Please look at us a resource and utilize the contact below for additional story angles, sources, etc.