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Equipping youth through entrepreneurship and academic empowerment: BUILD’s innovative model

In the US, almost 1,500 teenagers drop out of high school each day - often because they don’t find their education relevant and become disengaged. And of those who do graduate, many aren’t prepared for college or the workforce. How do we provide these underserved young people with the resources they need to succeed? BUILD was founded to equip low-income youth with skills and confidence to succeed in the world of college and work by providing entrepreneurship training and mentoring.

Photo of Eliza Rosenbaum
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Now operating programs in the San Francisco Bay Area, Washington DC and Boston, BUILD’s model combines entrepreneurial experience, academic intervention and personal support that helps kids build self-confidence and motivates them to succeed - in school, and in life. Nine out of ten BUILD students are from low-income families and from ethnic backgrounds that have been historically under-represented in higher education (Latino, African-American and Pacific Islander), and eighty percent of their students are the first in their family to go to college.

BUILD helps students develop business ideas, write business plans, pitch their businesses to funders, and launch their own real businesses. They’ve connected over 2,000 professional mentors to youth entrepreneurs, and incubated 500 businesses nationwide. But it’s not just about building business leaders; as BUILD says, “entrepreneurship is the hook, but college is the goal.”  Ultimately, BUILD helps kids make the critical connection between the classroom and career success.

How might BUILD be an inspiration for integrating career-readiness training with academic development? What other organizations out there are taking this approach?


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Photo of Daniel Kolodziej

What a touching and inspiring video. I really like what BUILD are doing to help those that need it the most. I was born and raised on council housing estates, UK equivalent to 'The Projects', and having a support organisation such as BUILD would have undoubtedly made my journey in education and into employment much easier.

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