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BUILD's mission is to engage at-risk youth in the schools and on the streets so they can realize their educational and career potential and contribute to the stability, safety and well being of our communities.
BUILD has been in the same West Town office for 40 years. In 1969, two street-gang outreach workers founded BUILD as a street intervention program after government funding was terminated for their work at the Division Street YMCA. They met with corporate business leaders to develop BUILD, which stands for Broader Urban Involvement and Leadership Development. BUILD began by working with fewer than 200 gang-affiliated teens in one Chicago neighborhood and today serves over 3,500 youth in 9 Chicago neighborhoods and throughout Cook County through a Rehabilitation program in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.
Problem Addressed and Population ServedAfter a decline in gang activity from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, a steady resurgence of gang problems has occurred in recent years. In the 5-year period from 2002 to 2007, law enforcement jurisdictions in larger cities and suburban counties reported a 60-percent increase in the overall number of gangs and an 80-percent increase in the number of gang members, according to the forthcoming 2007 National Youth Gang Survey.
The 2006 Gang Book, published by the Chicago Crime Commission estimates there are 70 to 100 gangs and 70,000 to 125,000 gang members in the metro Chicago area. Over 90% of BUILD's constituents are low-income, and highly at-risk for gang recruitment.
Out-of-school programs are greatly needed for the children and youth that BUILD serves. According to the Forum for Youth Investment (2005), the majority of public/private funds for out-of-school programming stops after middle school. Most teens that are actively enrolled in high quality after school programming are low-risk. Much of the after-school programming offered to BUILD's high school population is targeted to supplementing academic deficits; however, most youth won't even bother attending if they're already failing and in danger of dropping out unless the programs offer subjects and activities that appeal to them with an adult they can trust and talk to like the programs and staff that BUILD has.Project Program Design and Implementation
? In-school Activities - Prevention Specialists implement Violence/Gang Prevention Curriculum in the classroom and/or with small groups of youth with identified behavioral issues, equipping them to resist violence, drugs and gangs and develop life skills (e.g., decision-making, goal setting and conflict resolution). The most at-risk youth are recruited for involvement in structured after-school activities that allow them to apply their newly acquired life skills
? After- and Out-of School Activities- Staff engages highly at-risk youth in a variety of safe community-based settings to provide academic assistance, sports and recreational activities, mentoring and opportunities to develop leadership skills.
? Community Outreach and Collaborations - Community Outreach Specialists work with parents and other community adults, informing them about issues impacting youth and helping them to work together to improve their communities. BUILD collaborates with over 100 private organizations and public agencies in its service areas and citywide.
? Gang/Violence Remediation - Intervention Specialists provides gang-involved youth with activities that are alternatives to gang life and reduce participation in violence and crime. Recreational and athletic activities allow staff to develop rapport with gang members in order to guide them to other resources (e.g., tutoring, counseling, substance abuse treatment, and job training).
? Juvenile Rehabilitation - Program staff provides a re-entry curriculum to youth detained at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center and provide follow-up case management to ensure that youth, upon release, enroll in school and other constructive activities to reduce their rate of return to detention.
? College & Career Prep- Education Outreach Specialists work with middle and high school students on personal motivation, academic attainment, college admissions, financial aid, vocational training, and career exploration to keep them in the educational pipeline and enhance access to postsecondary opportunities.
? Youth Leadership Development - Youth Development Specialist engages Youth Council and Core Group members in tracking Life Plan goals, providing community service, enhancing leadership skills and learning to become peer mentors and counselors.
- Maria Torres
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