About Us

Founded in 1999 by Suzanne McKechnie Klahr, BUILD is dedicated to proving the power of experiential learning through entrepreneurship, and igniting the potential of youth in under-resourced communities.

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  • Our Mission

    BUILD’s mission is to use entrepreneurship to ignite the potential of youth from under-resourced communities and propel them to high school, college & career success.

  • Our Vision

    BUILD envisions an educational system in which all students, regardless of background, are engaged and prepared for their personal and professional success.

Our History

  • 1999 BUILD founded to help low-income entrepreneurs in East Palo Alto, CA
  • 2001 BUILD receives 501c3 status and switches to a youth-oriented program
  • 2004 BUILD expands to serve Oakland, CA
  • 2007 BUILD opens in Washington, DC
  • 2011 BUILD opens in Boston, MA
  • 2013 BUILD adopts strategic plan for ambitious growth and wide-spread impact
  • 2014 BUILD announces plans to open in New York City
  • 2015 BUILD hires first NYC-based staff
  • 2015 BUILD announces expansion plans for Los Angeles
  • 2016 BUILD launches in NYC with 450 students in 10 schools
  • 2016 BUILD hires first LA-based staff

Our Results

  • Incubated over 750 youth businesses
  • Partnered successfully with more than 30 schools
  • Expanded service from one city to five
  • Grew budget from $37,000 to $12M
  • Grew staff from 1 to over 100
  • Since 2012, 96% of students completing the BUILD program graduate from high school on time, and 98% of those are accepted to at least one postsecondary opportunity

BUILD’s Diversity and Inclusion Statement

The Context

For almost two decades, BUILD has worked to address the racial and economic inequity that disproportionately impacts the communities we serve. We see the debilitating effects of deep-rooted, institutionalized racism, and we acknowledge that what is happening in our country requires a more intentional approach from our organization.

To further our mission, BUILD has codified “Promoting Diversity” as a fundamental organizational core value and developed a Diversity and Inclusion Statement.

By adopting this statement now, BUILD seeks to create a space for all BUILDers to celebrate and promote our diversity, as well as examine the inequities across our society and work with our students, families, schools, volunteers, board members, and funders towards solutions that will directly benefit the students and communities we serve.

Our Statement

BUILD honors the dignity and worth of every individual and strives to create equity of voice, access, influence and power across lines of difference – both in and beyond BUILD, specifically for groups that have been historically denied social justice. We acknowledge and embrace the entire range of human experience, celebrating the nuance and insights diversity brings to our work because we believe it yields the greatest impact for students and best prospects for change.

We do not only speak of diversity and inclusion; we live by it.  In our practices, policies, and organizational culture, BUILD works to foster a familial environment where we can bring our whole selves to our work knowing that we are enriched by differences in race, skin color, ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, physical abilities, mental and developmental abilities, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, educational background, work styles, political beliefs, cultural practices, perspectives, and passions.

At BUILD, we know that the people we work with, and the communities we serve, are our greatest assets and strengths.  Promoting diversity is a central component of our culture and a critically important core value. By respecting, valuing and celebrating diversity, BUILD enhances our unique culture and allows for greater impact in the communities we serve.

Our Definitions

BUILD defines diversity as the embodiment of various unique qualities and characteristics at every level of our organization. This includes, but is not limited to, race, skin color, ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, physical abilities, mental and developmental abilities, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, educational background, work styles, political beliefs, cultural practices, perspectives, and passions.

BUILD defines inclusion as a system of policies, procedures, and customs that have been intentionally designed to seek out, cultivate, and retain diversity. To achieve a culture of inclusion, BUILD staff members and stakeholders commit to having courageous conversations, speaking their truth, addressing conscious and unconscious biases, and investing in all members of the BUILD community as individuals.