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BUILDING SUCCESS

To help at-risk high school students reach their potential, first you need to engage them. That’s the focus of BUILD—a program that teaches and motivates kids with real-life entrepreneurship. Founder Suzanne McKechnie Klahr was teaching entrepreneurship skills to adults in East Palo Alto as a way to close the opportunity gap between the East Palo Alto’s poorer residents and those in affluent Silicon Valley. She began BUILD when a group of students asked to join in. Realizing that entrepreneurship is a powerful vehicle to improve educational performance, she brought together schools and professionals to guide students through creating and running their own businesses. The results have been profound. In schools that have partnered with BUILD, dropout rates have dropped drastically while graduation and college acceptance rates have improved. With the skills they learn, these students have a newfound appreciation for learning and they are motivated toward future success.

BUILD

Engaging Students with Entrepreneurship

BUILDING SUCCESS

To help at-risk high school students reach their potential, first you need to engage them. That’s the focus of BUILD—a program that teaches and motivates kids with real-life entrepreneurship. Founder Suzanne McKechnie Klahr was teaching entrepreneurship skills to adults in East Palo Alto as a way to close the opportunity gap between the East Palo Alto’s poorer residents and those in affluent Silicon Valley. She began BUILD when a group of students asked to join in. Realizing that entrepreneurship is a powerful vehicle to improve educational performance, she brought together schools and professionals to guide students through creating and running their own businesses. The results have been profound. In schools that have partnered with BUILD, dropout rates have dropped drastically while graduation and college acceptance rates have improved. With the skills they learn, these students have a newfound appreciation for learning and they are motivated toward future success.
Philanthropy

Grommet Launch Conversation

Grommet Launch Conversation

  • Jorge
    Jorge

    Hi! My name is Jorge Santana and I am the Program Director of BUILD Greater Boston. At BUILD, we are combatting the high school drop-out crisis in America through entrepreneurship. We work with students from under-resourced communities and support them in starting and managing their own small businesses. We are thrilled to share our story with The Grommet community!

  • Cynthia
    Cynthia
    10/30/2015 2:26 PM

    What inspired the founder, Suzanne McKechnie Klahr, to start BUILD?

  • Jorge
    Jorge – Special Guest
    10/30/2015 2:27 PM

    BUILD was started by Suzanne as much as it was started by four young people in East Palo Alto. In 1999, Suzanne was working to address social injustice around economic access in East Palo Alto. She worked with adults in the community to start small businesses and was one day approached by four students. They wanted to drop out of high school, create a t-shirt business, and asked for her support in starting their venture. She agreed to help them on the condition that they stayed in high school.

    BUILD was born from her commitment to these students and her commitment to fighting for economic empowerment in under resourced communities. Her dedication to investing in these communities is truly inspiring – she moved to East Palo Alto and lived there for ten years after one of her students said they all felt she was parachuting in to “save” them rather than being a part of the community she was working in.

  • Cynthia
    Cynthia
    10/30/2015 2:34 PM

    What inspired you to join BUILD? How do you think the program has affected the community here and other communities that have the program in their schools?

  • Jorge
    Jorge – Special Guest
    10/30/2015 2:34 PM

    I was drawn to the way BUILD empowers young people in their education. Many high schoolers do not feel connected to school because they do not believe school is relevant to them or the outside world. Utilizing entrepreneurship as a hook to engage young people and helping them to see the connection between their school work and their business makes learning relevant again. I was also drawn to the type of student BUILD works with. BUILD intentionally targets the students who need our support the most. We do not work with the students who are excelling in their education; we work with the ones who are struggling, the ones who need the extra support to reach their full potential. BUILD does a great job of engaging these young people and showing them that education IS for them.

  • Cynthia
    Cynthia
    10/30/2015 2:36 PM

    What are students reactions when they first start with BUILD in 9th grade? Have you encountered any unexpected challenges?

  • Jorge
    Jorge – Special Guest
    10/30/2015 2:37 PM

    The biggest reaction I have seen is one of surprise. Our young people are not always portrayed as leaders, innovators, and change makers. But in BUILD we start with that belief; we start by telling and showing our students that they are capable of anything and that is truly transformational. The biggest difference I see between our 9th graders and our 12th graders is confidence in themselves and in their future.

    I love knowing that I am helping to build the next leaders in under resourced communities – that I am helping to shift the paradigm from one of “saving” our young people from their communities to one of investing in their communities. I have yet to encounter any unforeseen challenges, though that doesn’t mean there haven’t been challenges. The greatest obstacles in this work lie in supporting and empowering our young people when there are so many systems and environmental factors– poverty, racism, lack of educational opportunity etc. – challenging them every day.

  • Cynthia
    Cynthia
    10/30/2015 2:38 PM

    Why mentoring? Why not simply have an instructor teach them about entrepreneurship?

  • Jorge
    Jorge – Special Guest
    10/30/2015 2:38 PM

    Mentorship is transformational when we are learning who we are and who we want to become. In an educational system that does not represent all young people equally, our students need caring adults assuring them that education is for them. They need role models who expose them to new experiences and push them to grow. Mentors changed my life and I see the changes that our mentors inspire in our students. Having a great entrepreneurship curriculum and inspiring instructors is essential – but having mentorship adds an extra level of connection and allows our young people to learn from positive role models.

  • Cynthia
    Cynthia
    10/30/2015 2:39 PM

    How do you measure the program's success?

  • Jorge
    Jorge – Special Guest
    10/30/2015 2:39 PM

    Success for us means that our young people graduate from high school on-time. We track data points such as grades and attendance to ensure that our students are on track to graduate in four years. In Boston, 95% of BUILD’s senior class graduated on time and 70% of those young people went on to pursue post-secondary education. In the end, we want all of our students to be agents of their own success. Not graduating from high school presents huge barrier to future educational and job opportunities. We want to ensure that our young people have their diploma so that these doors are open to them. If we can empower our young people to graduate on-time and give them the tools they need to find their own success, then we have been successful.

The launch day conversation has ended. Please direct further questions about this Grommet to our Community Experience Team.

 

BUILD

Engaging Students with Entrepreneurship

BUILDING SUCCESS

To help at-risk high school students reach their potential, first you need to engage them. That’s the focus of BUILD—a program that teaches and motivates kids with real-life entrepreneurship.

Founder Suzanne McKechnie Klahr was teaching entrepreneurship skills to adults in East Palo Alto as a way to close the opportunity gap
between the East Palo Alto’s poorer residents and those in affluent Silicon Valley. She began BUILD when a group of students asked to join in. Realizing that entrepreneurship is a powerful vehicle to improve educational performance, she brought together schools and professionals to guide students through creating and running their own businesses.

The results have been profound. In schools that have partnered with BUILD, dropout rates have dropped drastically while graduation and college acceptance rates have improved. With the skills they learn, these students have a newfound appreciation for learning and they are motivated toward future success.
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BUILD V1

Grommet Launch Conversation

  • Jorge
    Jorge

    Hi! My name is Jorge Santana and I am the Program Director of BUILD Greater Boston. At BUILD, we are combatting the high school drop-out crisis in America through entrepreneurship. We work with students from under-resourced communities and support them in starting and managing their own small businesses. We are thrilled to share our story with The Grommet community!

  • Cynthia
    Cynthia
    10/30/2015 2:26 PM

    What inspired the founder, Suzanne McKechnie Klahr, to start BUILD?

  • Jorge
    Jorge – Special Guest
    10/30/2015 2:27 PM

    BUILD was started by Suzanne as much as it was started by four young people in East Palo Alto. In 1999, Suzanne was working to address social injustice around economic access in East Palo Alto. She worked with adults in the community to start small businesses and was one day approached by four students. They wanted to drop out of high school, create a t-shirt business, and asked for her support in starting their venture. She agreed to help them on the condition that they stayed in high school.

    BUILD was born from her commitment to these students and her commitment to fighting for economic empowerment in under resourced communities. Her dedication to investing in these communities is truly inspiring – she moved to East Palo Alto and lived there for ten years after one of her students said they all felt she was parachuting in to “save” them rather than being a part of the community she was working in.

  • Cynthia
    Cynthia
    10/30/2015 2:34 PM

    What inspired you to join BUILD? How do you think the program has affected the community here and other communities that have the program in their schools?

  • Jorge
    Jorge – Special Guest
    10/30/2015 2:34 PM

    I was drawn to the way BUILD empowers young people in their education. Many high schoolers do not feel connected to school because they do not believe school is relevant to them or the outside world. Utilizing entrepreneurship as a hook to engage young people and helping them to see the connection between their school work and their business makes learning relevant again. I was also drawn to the type of student BUILD works with. BUILD intentionally targets the students who need our support the most. We do not work with the students who are excelling in their education; we work with the ones who are struggling, the ones who need the extra support to reach their full potential. BUILD does a great job of engaging these young people and showing them that education IS for them.

  • Cynthia
    Cynthia
    10/30/2015 2:36 PM

    What are students reactions when they first start with BUILD in 9th grade? Have you encountered any unexpected challenges?

  • Jorge
    Jorge – Special Guest
    10/30/2015 2:37 PM

    The biggest reaction I have seen is one of surprise. Our young people are not always portrayed as leaders, innovators, and change makers. But in BUILD we start with that belief; we start by telling and showing our students that they are capable of anything and that is truly transformational. The biggest difference I see between our 9th graders and our 12th graders is confidence in themselves and in their future.

    I love knowing that I am helping to build the next leaders in under resourced communities – that I am helping to shift the paradigm from one of “saving” our young people from their communities to one of investing in their communities. I have yet to encounter any unforeseen challenges, though that doesn’t mean there haven’t been challenges. The greatest obstacles in this work lie in supporting and empowering our young people when there are so many systems and environmental factors– poverty, racism, lack of educational opportunity etc. – challenging them every day.

  • Cynthia
    Cynthia
    10/30/2015 2:38 PM

    Why mentoring? Why not simply have an instructor teach them about entrepreneurship?

  • Jorge
    Jorge – Special Guest
    10/30/2015 2:38 PM

    Mentorship is transformational when we are learning who we are and who we want to become. In an educational system that does not represent all young people equally, our students need caring adults assuring them that education is for them. They need role models who expose them to new experiences and push them to grow. Mentors changed my life and I see the changes that our mentors inspire in our students. Having a great entrepreneurship curriculum and inspiring instructors is essential – but having mentorship adds an extra level of connection and allows our young people to learn from positive role models.

  • Cynthia
    Cynthia
    10/30/2015 2:39 PM

    How do you measure the program's success?

  • Jorge
    Jorge – Special Guest
    10/30/2015 2:39 PM

    Success for us means that our young people graduate from high school on-time. We track data points such as grades and attendance to ensure that our students are on track to graduate in four years. In Boston, 95% of BUILD’s senior class graduated on time and 70% of those young people went on to pursue post-secondary education. In the end, we want all of our students to be agents of their own success. Not graduating from high school presents huge barrier to future educational and job opportunities. We want to ensure that our young people have their diploma so that these doors are open to them. If we can empower our young people to graduate on-time and give them the tools they need to find their own success, then we have been successful.

The launch day conversation has ended. Please direct further questions about this Grommet to our Community Experience Team.