Our annual gala has always been BUILD’s fundraising lifeblood – so we’ve gone virtual. Join us for a week of online storytelling, art auctions, and youth voices, Friday April 24 - Friday May 1. 

4/24 DAY 1Gala Kickoff: Welcome, Silent Auction, and Art

4/25 DAY 2:  Keeping Community Safe: Deputy Police Chief Cato

4/26 DAY 3:  BUILDing Resilience: Mental Health and Wellness

4/27 DAY 4:  Sponsor Spotlights

4/28 DAY 5:  BUILDing Futures: Prevention to Education

4/29 DAY 6: Corporate Angel: COMCAST NBCUNIVERSAL

4/30 DAY 7: Philanthropy Leadership: The Blackhawks Foundation

5/01 DAY 8: Youth Voices (feat. Justin Jesso): Marcie and Avy Stein, Lifetime BUILDers

BUILD supports Chicago’s most vulnerable youth: with street violence prevention and intervention, out-of-school activities, summer camps, mental health care, educational support, and much more.  We reach 6,500+ young people each year, most of whom fall outside society’s safety net.

They face more obstacles than ever - help us sustain the support they need. Be a guest, be a donor, be a fundraiser – be a BUILDer!


Be A BUILDer and Make a Gift Now

Browse The Silent Auction

Visit Our Virtual Gala


Explore Day 1: Gala Kickoff, Art Programs: In today's featured video, BUILD CEO Adam M. Alonso welcomes our community to our virtual gala, and opens the silent auction for bidding – all auctions close at 9 pm next Friday 5/1. This year's auction contains extraordinary artwork and jewelry from teaching artists, BUILD staff, volunteers, and select BUILD alumni - a community that has grown around the power of art to connect, unlock, and reshape lives.

BUILD's Art Academy is integrated into everything we do - from mental health to college prep. See pictures from our Annual Art Show. In 2020, BUILD earned a MacArthur Grant for Arts, Equity, and Culture as a non-traditional arts organization, recognizing our dedication to increasing arts access and amplifying unheard voices. And Meet our Arts Academy Manager Ricardo Miranda, in one of his online art tutorials!

Explore Day 2: Keeping Communities Safe - Violence Intervention: Today’s featured video is an extended conversation between BUILD CEO Adam Alonso and the recipient of our 2020 Community Leadership Award, Deputy Chief Ernest Cato of Area 4, CPD. Listen in to hear what community-based policing truly looks and sounds like.

Listen to that unforgettable conversation between Officer Cato and Latee, a young man who turned his life around at BUILD after a gunshot wound - Cato was a police officer there when it happened. BUILD staff have been interrupting street violence since 1969: mediating conflict, negotiating gang detachments, advocating for struggling youth in school and court. Most have been through exactly what these youth are facing, and it's a personal mission to help “little brothers and sisters” overcome traumas, break cycles of violence, and build better lives.

Listen to a BUILD Radio Podcast episode featuring Max Cerda, a senior Intervention team member from Humboldt Park, talking about his own time on the streets and how it drives his work. Watch this short story about how every Intervention story doesn't have a happy ending - but that can't stop the work.

Explore Day 3: BUILDing Resilience, Mental Health and Wellness: Today’s featured video introduces our Clinical and Community Wellness team and its many different kinds of care: from individual and group therapy to 24-7 on-call crisis response. It’s BUILD’s fastest growing team - in 2018 we had one clinical therapist; a year later we had eleven and we’re still growing.

Read about Marshawn Feltus, a BUILD Community Violence and Crisis Response specialist who also brings his skill as a yoga instructor to his work. Meet the mentors who work with BUILDing Girls 2 Women, a program designed specifically for gang-impacted females.

Girls play major roles in many gangs right alongside the boys, but often have different traumas in their pasts - and need specialized treatment. And then listen to this WBEZ story about “girls in gangs”, featuring Cristina, a BUILD youth telling her own story of what she has had to overcome.

Welcome to Day 4 of BUILD’s Virtual Gala: Sponsor Spotlights: What an amazing Gala weekend! 80+ people signed up to be Fundraising BUILDers, together we've raised more than $520K for Chicago youth. We are fired up to keep going! BUILD has been working since 1969 to save Chicago’s most vulnerable youth from violence - and we've been out here for 50+ years ONLY because donors have supported us. Before gun violence was national news, hundreds of passionate people stepped up to  break the generational cycles of violence, loss, and incarceration that hold so many Chicagoans down.

Today we celebrate all members of the BUILD family who have given so generously to make a better future for Chicago and its youth. We feature two videos today: first, four long-time and lead donors talk about what keeps them so committed to the work, and to the BUILD family. 

Second, nothing would be possible without the incredible generosity and fidelity of our Sponsors. Thank you for staying with us in these turbulent times, thank you for recognizing that as everything has turned upside down, BUILD youth have been left struggling for their lives.

Special Thanks to the Leadership of our Event Sponsors: The Bakalar Family Charitable Fund, Comcast NBCUniversal, Avy & Marcie Stein

and to our Gala Co-Chairs: Christine & John Bakalar, Alexander and Jill Dimitrief, Jack Segal & Michael Halberstam, Larry and Carol Levy, John Nitschke & Jean McLaren, Howard & Diane Schwarzbach, Avy & Marcie Stein Ken & Amy Viellieu

See all of our sponsors here, too. Thank you for helping save young lives!

Day 5: BUILDing Futures: Just three days left in our Virtual Gala - and *thank you* to everyone stepping up to give Chicago’s most vulnerable kids a better future! Thank you with our whole hearts. Today we celebrate the path of education that starts in elementary school, and takes BUILD youth all the way through college graduation and beyond. Read on get to know our work BUILDing Futures. 

Prevention programs start working with youth as young as nine, bringing extra support, encouragement, and enrichment activities like art and science to after-school time. And even as they help with homework, BUILD Prevention mentors are also there to recognize when youth need other kinds of help, and connect them - from clinical care to intervention mentoring.

Day 6: BUILD honors Comcast: Comcast NBCUniversal has worked with BUILD for over ten years, both as a financial supporter and also as a partner in increasing access to technology and digital literacy across our communities. In this time of pandemic, this support has never been more essential.

Whether providing laptops to BUILD youth or fighting the digital divide via its Internet Essentials program, Comcast truly puts its values into action. In this time of pandemic, they've extended their offer of two months of free broadband to all those who apply through June 30, recognizing the realities on the ground.

We are proud to honor Comcast NBCUniversal as our 2020 Corporate Angel. Thank you for this extraordinary commitment to making a positive difference in Chicago!

Day 7: BUILD honors The Chicago Blackhawks Foundation: The first grant the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation made to BUILD was in 2009—this was joined by investments across the entire West Side, and the “Building Champions” curriculum: an after-school program that uses team sport to teach critical lessons of respect, perseverance, decision-making, teamwork, and more.

BUILD CEO Adam Alonso dedicates our 2020 Philanthropy Leadership Award - and thank you to the Foundation's Executive Director Sara Guderyahn for sharing her own story. This is a wonderful partnership!

We both understand what a powerful tool of youth engagement and learning sports can be. In BUILD’s own Strong Bodies athletics program, the Donna Dudley Peace Softball League plays weekly over the summer, as does Hoops in the Hood- pop-up basketball courts across neighborhood. Our annual touch football Turkey Bowl is a highlight of the year. For many youth, a coach is the best mentor.

Day 8: It’s the last day of Virtual Gala Week! BUILD’s incredible community is rallying around its youth in a big way. When you donate, you become a BUILDer too; you help them BUILD Bigger Dreams. You are making a promise to believe in them, and never give up. Join the BUILD Family right now! 

BUILD’s young people are the reason we do what we do. They grow up surrounded by trauma, many never assumed they had a right to a future - much less a dream. BUILD helps them find a voice, and build a life. Three BUILD youth agreed to share their stories this month, listen to them here:  Lilly,  Jerry, and Steven. Marcie and Avy Stein have been phenomenal supporters of BUILD for over twenty years - their leadership and generosity has saved thousands of young lives, and we honor them today, with all our hearts.

And lastly, Marcy and Avy’s son Justin Jesso is a BUILDer too, as well as a Grammy-nominated songwriter and recording artist. In honor of his extraordinary parents and the youth they serve, an exclusive acoustic performance of his hit song, “Bigger Than”.


Thank you so much to our sponsors for their unwavering support! You are BUILD’s community at its best. 

City BUILDer

John and Christine Bakalar

Comcast NBC Universal

Avy and Marcie Stein


Neighborhood BUILDer


Alexander and Jill Dimitrief

Larry and Carol Levy

Kenneth and Amy Viellieu


School BUILDer

Chicago Blackhawks Foundation

Jim and Karen Frank

Jack Segal and Michael Halberstam


Block BUILDer


Ariel Investments LLC

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois - Health Care Services Corporation

Cresset Wealth Advisors LLC

Paul and Mary Finnegan

Bill and Meg Hayes

Bruce and Laurie Kaden

William Main

John Nitschke & Jean McLaren

Howard and Diane Schwarzbach

John and Sue Wilson


Youth BUILDer


Adam Alonso and Lorena Levy Alonso

Baird Capital

Huntington Bank

Bank of America

Eric and Jill Becker

Paul Beckwith

Richard and Gene Bindler

Robert J. Emanuel

Norman and Virginia Bobins

Christopher and Amy Boehm

John and Jackie Bucksbaum

Jeff Cherner


Shannel Clubb

Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone, PLC Control

Hyatt Corporation

Curran Group Inc.

Steve and Judi Fader

Fifth Third Bank

Jeff and Cidney Golman

HR Midwest & Fortis Insurance Associates

Thomas J. Hurvis

Joseph and Jin Ivacic

Justin Jesso

Mats and Jessica Lederhausen

Rodrigo and Pamela Levy

The Barbara and Frank Lieber Family Charitable Trust

Stephen Miles

Gerry Maguire

Jim and Kelly McShane

Steve and Ellen Mendell

Terry and Carol Moritz

Brian Musso and Heather Headley-Musso

Pepper Construction Group

Larry Richman

David and Meryl Rosen

Bill and Lisa Rudnick

Siobhan Sanders

Bryon and Sue Stanislaw

Jordan Stein

Mark Stern

Joseph and Judith Weil