“Zara” was in elementary school when she lost her father to gun violence. She had lost her mother earlier. Her loving grandmother “Dee” took her in, but they both struggled with their grief and trauma. 

She was failing at school when her teachers reached out to BUILD. A BUILD therapist came to Zara’s school, and they started working together there. And soon, with focused care she began to stabilize and reconnect. Dee saw this effect firsthand and was soon in therapy at BUILD herself.

More services were added. A case worker helped Dee secure things like new furniture, winter coats and clothes. They also helped her reapply to public assistance programs that had previously rejected her. Dee and Zara are on their way to a more hopeful future. 

Potential doesn’t discriminate — opportunity does. Every young person has the right to discover, explore, and fulfill that potential. So, BUILD wraps young people in choice and opportunity. Opportunities to try things out, find out what they like, and who they are. Meet new people, gain hope and inspiration. 

BUILD helps them figure out what kind of life they want to build, then helps them make that plan: setting goals for school, health, training and work. We support them with scholarships and emergency funds when we can, look out for their families when they go away to college. And just as important, we help them have fun, and start loving themselves. After all, we don’t only want them to have a diploma, or a job. We want them to have a whole positive future. 


Since 1969, we have embedded mentors in schools and across neighborhoods to connect with youth who need support. Wrapping young people in the opportunities and care they deserve, we help them build hope, resilience, and a path to a promising future. We engage youth at every stage, with specialized teams dedicated to street violence interventions, gang detachments, creative after-school programming, academic school, college support, mental health care, community violence crisis response, and enrichment activities ranging from art and music to sports, podcasting, engineering, and gardening. Potential doesn’t discriminate, neither should opportunity. 

Join us in BUILDing a better future:  www.buildchicago.org 

Join the discussion on social media!