Since 1969, when we first hit the streets in Chicago’s West Town community as a gang intervention organization, our work has touched the lives of more than 100,000 young people.

Over the past five decades, BUILD has evolved in many ways:

  • Adding violence prevention programs for younger children;
  • Increasing support for college access and career success; and,
  • Weaving the arts and healthy living into all of our work.

BUILD’s tradition of leadership continues today with generations of BUILD alumni succeeding in all walks of life, supporting their families, and providing leadership in their own communities.

On behalf the entire BUILD community, we would like to sincerely thank everyone who attended and supported our 50th Anniversary Dinner Celebration. Nearly 800 guests joined us to recognize special honorees, former BUILDers who have been influential in BUILD's development and support the amazing youth who shared their personal journeys and their incredible stories of success.

To our friends and colleagues who joined us, supported us, assisted us and celebrated with us in person and in spirit, we thank you for making this the most successful gala ever and the beginning of our exciting journey to the next 50 years!

Grateful for youth trailblazers. Grateful for BUILD. Grateful for you. This holiday season, our 'Attitude of Gratitude' campaign is highlighting the people who have made BUILD a beacon of hope since 1969. As we prepare to celebrate 50 years of impact, BUILD Radio is capturing their stories.  We are grateful for Jose CebelleroMichael Johnson and Felipe Ortiz, who were youth participants during BUILD's infancy and later joined the team as adults. They are living proof that success is always possible. They shared their stories about gang life in the 1970's, the ways BUILD helped "erase invisible borders" in their neighborhoods, and the different ways BUILD helped them grow. Listen to the full interview here!  Listen to this amazing trio of BUILDers on our “50 Years of Stories” podcast series.


Adele Bach,

the wife of one of BUILD’s original founders, who in 1969 had the foresight to tackle gang issues through innovative tactics.


Debby and Betsy

Debby Preiser(left), Betsy Burgos(right)

After not seeing each other for 30 years, this youth and mentor reunited at BUILD for our 50 Years of Stories BUILD Radio podcast series and archive project!

Listen here!

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Freddy Calixto

Freddy Calixto was a youth participant in the 1970's and went on to serve as BUILD's Executive Director for 15 years.

Listen to his story here!

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Eric Davis

Eric was first introduced to BUILD as a kid in the early 70's and went on to serve 27 years as a Chicago police officer.



Jimmy Ramos

Jimmy connected with BUILD through sports in 1978 when he was 8 years old and went on to become Chief of Staff for the 21st ward in Chicago.


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Omaris Zamora

Omaris grew up in Humboldt Park in an atmosphere of gangs and violence. Today she is an assistant professor at Rutgers University.

Listen to her story here.

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Arlen Gould

Arlen was one of BUILD's earliest board members. Equipped with his experience as an educator and a passion for changing lives, Arlen helped create momentum on BUILD's board that has lasted for 50 years. (Click to hear Arlen's story!)