BUILD Boston raised more than $650,000 at our five-year anniversary gala, BUILDFest, on October 19 at the Boston Convention Center. The event, with more than 600 guests in attendance, honored Jeff Glass, the organization’s Founding Board Chair, and Mic Williams, Founder of the Boston Harbor Angels.
Governor Baker’s office presented an award to BUILD for its commitment to high school students and another award to BUILD Boston’s Executive Director, Ayele Shakur, for her “leadership and support of Boston’s young entrepreneurs.”
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that BUILD Boston exists because of Jeff Glass,” said Ayele Shakur, BUILD Boston Executive Director. “In 2010, Jeff had the inspiration to bring BUILD’s program to Boston, and he and a handful of his colleagues provided the seed funding to get it off the ground.”
“He then served as our Board Chair for five years, helping us get to where we are today, serving 300 students in six schools,” Shakur added. “Jeff also models the entrepreneurial and philanthropic spirit that we strive to instill in all our students.”
Glass was honored with the BUILDer Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The award annually recognizes someone who has made significant achievements as an entrepre
neur while overcoming adversity or doing social good. Jeff is a serial entrepreneur who has founded and run more than a half dozen marketing, media and technology-enabled businesses.
“BUILD’s mission, vision and approach were a particularly strong fit for me,” Glass said in his acceptance speech. “I grew up in inner city Brooklyn and experienced some of the same challenges our BUILD students come up against. My father never graduated from 10th grade, and I saw firsthand the struggles that he faced in his life in trying to live up to the potential that he knew he had, but was never able to reach. When I see young BUILD entrepreneurs struggling to move beyond their sense of themselves, I can’t help but think of my father.”
As a pioneer in mobile technology, Jeff had the distinction of running one of the fastest growing companies in America, was a winner of the Boston Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” award, and was a recipient of the E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Currently, Jeff is the founder and CEO of StartingFive Partners, a hybrid investment and operating company committed to the creation of five new companies over the next several years.
Friends of Glass surprised him by raising money for a college scholarship fund in his name for BUILD students. More than $100,000 was raised for the Jeff Glass Scholarship Fund.
BUILD also honored Mic Williams, Founder of Boston Harbor Angels, with the BUILD Friend of the Year Award, which is presented annually to those who have demonstrated a deep level of personal commitment to BUILD Greater Boston through volunteer service and support. Boston Harbor Angels is a group of business leaders who support entrepreneurs by investing in high growth, early stage companies. Williams has offered invaluable support and advice to BUILD this year.
Keynote speaker Faith Padilla, a senior at Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Dorchester, described being bullied in junior high school and turmoil at home that left her shy and insecure. She credited BUILD with turning her life around.
“Confidence is just one of many things I have gained from BUILD,” Padilla said. “I have also learned grit: I stuck with BUILD even when I wanted to quit. Now, I am reaping the benefits. BUILD is my second family and my business partners are my new best friends.”
“I am earning money from the business we started—I even sold one of our speakers to Mayor Walsh,” Padilla added. “Most importantly, my GPA is now over 3.5 and I am hoping that with BUILD’s help I will get accepted to NYU next year to study communications.”
A highlight of BUILDFest every year is the Student Business Expo where BUILD students showcase their businesses. Guests had the opportunity to purchase products from 25 student businesses. The expo was run entirely by students, who also were emcees and speakers throughout the dinner program.
Proceeds supported BUILD Boston’s four-year youth entrepreneurship program, which serves more than 300 students in six Boston high schools. The goal of the program is to make college accessible to youth in schools where the graduation rates are sometimes below 50 percent.