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BUILD 2021 works to unite, engage, and inspire local Black leaders

In celebration of Black History Month, we are hosting a series of profiles and stories to amplify and honor people, businesses, organizations, and events connected to the history of Seattle’s Black community.

During the winter of 2013, the topic of conversation for many Seattleites centered around the Seahawks as they marched toward their first championship. When people gathered in the streets of downtown to celebrate the team’s Super Bowl win, six African American men congregated elsewhere to discuss something else occurring in Seattle and throughout the country; the alarming rate that Black teenage boys were being killed and the lack of societal action to address the problem. This conversation was the impetus for the formation of Brothers United In Leadership Development (BUILD).

The focus of this grassroots organization is to instill pride, hope, and perseverance in Black men and inspire empowered leaders and mentors to make positive change in their community. Through workshops and interactive activities, BUILD fosters the development of life skills for both students and adults of color. Their events are centered around building self-esteem, decision making and critical thinking, setting goals, and career growth, and typically include a structured activity, personal testimony or reflection, and a debrief.

“The Black community has been paying into systems that are a disservice to us for far too long. Having resources for the Black community to come together to BUILD trust, healing, growth and resiliency in Seattle and the surrounding areas is critical now.” – Andre Franklin, BUILD founding member

As recipients of a Neighborhood Matching Fund grant, BUILD is planning a series of community-building events for 2021 that will create leadership opportunities for Black men to positively impact, heal, unite, inspire, celebrate, and engage their community. Events include celebrations for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day to honor the men and women serving as role models, mentors, and leaders; a Block Party to bring together community members who have been displaced due to social and economic barriers; Blaq August Nurturing Generations (BANG), an event to commemorate the legacy of revolutionaries who died fighting against slavery and colonialism; and a fall series of Black history films and documentaries with speaker panels and community discussions.

“Projects like this are always important, but our current political and social climate does not value the lives and existence of Black people,” says Franklin. “The death and murder of Black people is common news and there continues to be a lack of urgency to protect, nurture and support our existence and contribution to society.”

Over the past seven years, BUILD has developed strong community partnerships, provided 70 youth development trainings, hosted 25 community events, and engaged hundreds of volunteers. While their target population is Black men and youth, the group also engages the overall Black community and partners with other ethnic/racial/cultural community groups.

The Neighborhood Matching Fund was created to provide matching dollars to community projects that bring people together and build stronger community connections between neighbors. The application period is open for both the Small Sparks Fund (awards up to $5,000) and the Community Partnership Fund (awards up to $50,000). To learn more about funding, attend a workshop, or apply please visit: