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BUILDing Opportunities for Students

As part of Acceleration Partners’ efforts to give back to the community, we’ve participated in multiple events over the last few years with an amazing organization called BUILD.

BUILD is a non-profit focused on providing high school students in under-resourced communities the opportunity to become entrepreneurs and launch a real business as a vehicle to learn and to support their path to college and beyond.

This past August, Acceleration Partners participated in the Build a Better You Challenge, a fun 3-day competition hosted by BUILD, where team members tracked individual distance efforts (walking, running and biking) in an attempt to log the most collective miles. It was a great way to boost our team’s physical and mental well-being during this unorthodox time and to encourage breaks from screen-time.

I sat down with Emily Trautwein, Manager of Strategic Partnerships for BUILD, to learn more about her and this incredible organization.


Emily, how did you end up working for BUILD?

My awesome boss, Kira Ross, connected me to BUILD.

We knew each other from a previous role and when I was looking for a new job, I first asked about a different organization, but she invited me to apply for a job at BUILD. I didn’t get the position the first time around, but I was so drawn to the mission, culture, and people that I kept my eye on BUILD. After a few years, a job opened up that I knew I was interested in and qualified for and I went for it!


Love it! Persistence surely pays off. What is the best part of your job?

One of our BUILD core values is “Bridging Communities” – and that is the best part of my job.

I love getting to connect our corporate partners with our students through meaningful volunteer engagements and be a bridge between them. I truly believe in the power of these connections to drive educational equity and social mobility!


Yes, we loved participating in the BUILD a Better You fundraiser that BUILD organized last month. Our team really enjoyed this event and it was such a fun way to get active. We’re curious how many companies participated, how much money was raised and how many miles were logged?

I was so excited to have AP involved in the BUILD a Better You Challenge! It raised over $25,000 dollars for BUILD’s youth entrepreneurs. Six companies joined us with 300 participants and 6,557 miles were logged!


That’s amazing! Not that we are competitive or anything, but we couldn’t help but notice someone logged 200 miles on the bike in one day… did some people take off work for this challenge?

Ha! To be honest, I have no idea if they took off work, but I did see a few vacationers! I do know we learned a lot after running this event for the first time and will definitely make some changes in the future to ensure a more even playing field…


What’s changed for BUILD over the last few months with the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement?

BUILD has always been committed to social justice. Promoting Diversity and Social Action is another one of our core values. Over the past few months, we have seen an increase in engagement from companies, a renewed sense of commitment from staff in creating safe spaces for our students and finding our voice in the movement.

At BUILD, we have been focused on creating inclusive, culturally relevant, digital content for Black and Latinx youth in under-resourced communities. Additionally, our CEO, Ayele Shakur, is co-chairing a special initiative called Open Opportunity Massachusetts which is a coalition of 40+ non-profits, government agencies, school superintendents, advocates, and grassroots leaders focused on driving systems-level transformation in education.

With students at home, it’s an unprecedented time to impact education and policy.


Indeed, we’re are certainly in the midst of a powerful movement. How has the transition to distanced or partially distanced learning impacted your program and students?

BUILD targets young people from high poverty, high needs areas, and therefore works with communities that are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. First, we focused on helping BUILD families with basic needs, including groceries and utilities.

Next, we worked to eliminate barriers for student access to technology from home and pivoted to create digital enhancements to our curriculum. Now, as we prepare for the school year, distanced learning is dramatically impacting our program and students. We are moving towards a Boston-based virtual mentoring program as well as implementing virtual milestones.

A silver lining is the acceleration of our digital strategy and the creation of our BUILD Your Future: COVID-19 Design Challenge.

This human-design centered challenge is focused on youth-driven solutions to help people solve real problems they are facing today. In Boston and across the country, participants have designed products, services, and campaigns that address the key question “How might we help people thrive mentally and physically in the midst of COVID-19?” It has been amazing to empower students to create real-life solutions and see their creativity and empathy at work.


Love that. And if people want to get more involved with BUILD to help support your mission, where’s a good place to start?

Stay up to date on what’s happening with BUILD by signing up for our newsletter at https://www.buildinboston.org/like/.

If you’re in Boston, DC, NYC, or San Francisco, consider signing up as a mentor! To apply, head to https://www.tfaforms.com/254886. Mentoring is the deepest way to get involved with our students and make an impact!


Thank you, Emily. We really appreciate your time and thank you for the amazing work that you do.

You’re welcome!


If you’re interested in partnering with Acceleration Partners for various charitable initiatives, reach out to our team today.