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Entrepreneurs of the Future: BUILD's Transformative Impact on NYC Youth

BUILD, an innovative entrepreneurship program, hosts a Press Dinner at Boqueria to celebrate the achievements of its program and alumni.


Jun. 3 2024, Published 10:33 a.m. ET

In the bustling heart of New York City, a quiet revolution has been brewing since 2016. BUILD, an innovative entrepreneurship program dedicated to youth in under-resourced communities, hosted a Press Dinner at Boqueria to honor the program's achievements. This year is particularly special as it marks a significant milestone - BUILD's first cohort of alumni graduates from college, ready to leave their mark on the world.

BUILD, an acronym for “Businesses United in Investing, Lending, and Development,” was founded in 1999 in East Palo Alto with a mission to prevent high school dropouts among low-income students of color. Today, it has evolved into a national force, offering both in-person and digital entrepreneurship-based college and career readiness programs in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Boston, Pittsburgh, and of course, New York City.

Expanding rapidly, BUILD now serves over 700 students across nine middle and high schools in all five boroughs. The organization’s unique approach blends traditional education with real-world business experiences, fostering critical skills such as problem-solving, communication, and adaptability—skills essential for success in the 21st-century workforce.

BUILD's transformative results over the past 25 years have ignited potential in countless young people, turning those often overlooked into CEOs of their own lives. The organization’s efforts culminated in a celebratory Press Dinner on May 15, 2024, at Boqueria, located at 260 West 40th Street. Esteemed media professionals, stakeholders, and BUILD alumni gathered to reflect on the program’s successes and explore its future.

Hosted by Regional Executive Director, Sybil Wells, with the assistance of Student Experience Programme Manager, Justin Lokossou, the evening's agenda was packed with insights and inspiration, offering guests an exclusive opportunity to hear directly from BUILD alumni about the program's profound impact on their lives and careers. Discussions with alumni Eddie, Mohammad and, the students conversation orientated around three key themes:

  1. The Entrepreneurial Mindset: Highlighting why entrepreneurial thinking is crucial for Generation Z to thrive in today's dynamic job market.

  2. Evolving Educational Requirements: Addressing how programs like BUILD provide invaluable experiential learning amid shifting college education landscapes.

  3. Education and Workforce Realities: Exploring how entrepreneurial skills open new career paths and foster innovative thinking among recent graduates.

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One of the evening’s highlights was the panel Q&A session, where BUILD graduates and alumni shared personal anecdotes and learnings from their journey through the program. These narratives underscored the transformative power of entrepreneurship education in shaping resilient, forward-thinking individuals ready to tackle any challenge.

BUILD's commitment to bridging educational and socio-economic gaps is evident in its strategic targeting of cities and school systems with significant achievement disparities. By empowering young people to develop and run small businesses, BUILD enriches traditional classroom instruction with practical business acumen and workforce readiness.

The Press Dinner also served as a reminder of BUILD's broader vision: a world where every student in every public high school across America learns to think and act like an entrepreneur. This vision is not just about creating future business leaders; it's about equipping young people with the tools to create, adapt, and thrive in any path they choose.

As BUILD celebrates its first college graduates and looks ahead to the future, the organization continues to ignite the potential within every student, proving that with the right support and opportunities, today's youth can achieve extraordinary things. The impact of BUILD is clear: it is not just changing lives; it is building a brighter, more equitable future for all.

For those interested in learning more about BUILD or getting involved, please visit

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