BUILD’s strength is in its members: the congregations, schools (both private and public), labor unions, business associations, nonprofits, neighborhoods and civic organizations that share a concern for community and are rooted in traditions of democracy. BUILD is broadbased and seeks to “stand for the whole” as an interfaith organization that embraces a membership of both religious and secular institutions.
As BUILD members, institutions commit to building “action teams” of leaders and potential leaders to work on local issues identified by the team. By joining with other institutions that have similar goals and concerns, BUILD members increase their collective power and work to achieve victories on local and city-wide issues. Member institutions pay dues to ensure BUILD has a secure and independent core budget.
BUILD Partner Highlight: Child First
Child First grew out of conversations with thousands of parents, youth, and educators during BUILD’s organizing campaign for the 1995 Mayoral Election. BUILD leaders heard many stories reinforcing studies that the time after school was the most dangerous for young people. In response, BUILD worked to create after-school programs in city schools and won the support of both mayoral candidates for the initiative. BUILD created the Child First Authority, with the underlying premise that if the state could create an authority to build stadiums, it could create an authority to help children. Delegate Howard “Pete” Rawlings led the charge to create the Authority.
Since its inception, Child First has provided academic, cultural and recreational enrichment to more than a thousand students each year. The program has leveraged $10 million for after-school programs and has become the leading recipient of city after-school funds. BUILD has organized parents to secure nearly $500,000 in state funds each year since 1998.
From its start as a BUILD program, Child First has expanded to have its own staff and non-profit status. With an emphasis on high expectations, Child First provides funding to organize after-school and in-school programs in city schools and to organize parents, school staff, and community partners to work together to create exceptional programs and to improve schools.