A buildOn student from Oakland stands on the stage, smiling after winning the Constructive Leadership Award.

Celebrating Service, Education, and Leadership at the Bay Area Dinner

buildOn students and supporters came together on Wednesday, May 15, at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco to celebrate the impact of buildOn’s work over the past year and to recognize the leaders within the buildOn movement in the Bay Area.

buildOn’s Chief Revenue Officer Marc Friedman and Kimberly, a buildOn student from Oakland High School, served as emcees for the evening, kicking things off by recognizing the members of buildOn’s National Board of Directors, the Bay Area Board, and the corporate sponsors who make buildOn’s work in the Bay Area possible. Kimberly also gave a shoutout to the buildOn students, advisors, and staff in the audience for their dedication to breaking the cycle. She then welcomed a fellow buildOn student from Oakland High School, Crystal, to the stage to share her inspiring buildOn story.

buildOn Chief Revenue Officer Marc Friedman and buildOn student Kimberley stand on stage welcoming everyone to the 2019 Bay Area Dinner as emcees.

Above: buildOn’s Chief Revenue Officer Marc Friedman and Kimberly, a buildOn student from Oakland High School, welcome the audience to the 2019 Bay Area Dinner. 

Crystal spoke about her love for her East Oakland community and why she has dedicated herself to over 1,000 hours of service with buildOn. “By serving my community and being a part of a caring and supportive group of students and buildOn staff, I’ve gone from being someone held back by personal challenges to someone who strives to lead, mentor, and help others in the ways that I have been helped.” Crystal said. “I was not born a leader, but I have been built up into one. Leadership is grown in us with love and support from our communities, and I want to be able to provide this same type of relationship to other people in the community in my own career.”

Crystal, a buildOn student from Oakland, stands on stage and shares her story of giving back and serving her community.

Above: Crystal, a buildOn student in the Bay Area, shares why giving back to her East Oakland community is so important to her.

After her speech, Crystal called buildOn’s Founder, President, & CEO Jim Ziolkowski to the stage. Jim spoke about how buildOn students like Crystal are changing their own communities in Oakland and other major U.S. cities, and how on Trek, buildOn students work alongside local communities in some of the economically poorest countries in the world to build schools.

buildOn's Founder and President speaks from the stage.

Above: buildOn’s Founder, President, & CEO Jim Ziolkowski shares how buildOn students are leading positive change in the Bay Area and around the world.

After a generous appeal and dinner, a current buildOn student and a buildOn Alum shared their spoken word poem “How Me Becomes We” about their experiences giving back to their community in Oakland as brother and sister. Francisco, who is a student at ARISE High School in Oakland, was first introduced to buildOn by his sister Maria when she was in high school.

Siblings Francisco and Maria stand with arms over each other's shoulders after performing their spoken word poem at the 2019 Bay Area Dinner.

Above: Francisco and Maria share how service has brought them closer as siblings in their spoken word poem “How Me Becomes We.”

After their spoken word performance, Maria welcomed Afees, a buildOn student from Madison Park Academy (MPA), to the stage. Afees shared the importance he found in being a part of buildOn’s 36 Hours immersion program with Salesforce and how the experience has given him connections into the tech world. He also thanked Emma Chalwin, his partner from 36 Hours and the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Salesforce, before welcoming her to the stage. “Having tech companies come into our schools and make these connections with us is personally important to me. I just completed my senior capstone on why students of color from low-income neighborhoods have a low matriculation rates into the tech industry,” Afees said. “I want to say thank you to Emma and everyone from Salesforce who came to MPA. You have opened doors for me and helped give me the confidence to be myself.”

A buildOn student stands on stage introducing his partner and mentor from Salesforce.

Above: Afees, a buildOn student from Madison Park Academy, introduces Emma Chalwin, Senior Vice President at Salesforce.

After the speeches from Afees and Emma, it was time to announce buildOn’s first ever Constructive Leadership Award winner in the Bay Area. The Constructive Leadership Award is reserved for a student who leads by example and builds others up through service. “This student was one of the first students that joined buildOn when we launched the program at Fremont High School. Quickly he became part of the leadership class and a student representative for all students in the Oakland Unified School District, all while working a part time job, being away from his family, and consistently serving with buildOn,” said Maribel Garcia, a Service Learning Program Coordinator with buildOn in Oakland. “He truly exemplifies what it means to give back and love your community. We are pleased to announce this year’s constructive leadership award winner is Ahmed Hajaji!”

A buildOn student from Oakland stands on stage and smiles after being surprised with the 2019 Constructive Leadership Award.

Above: Ahmed, a buildOn student from Fremont High School, is presented with the Constructive Leadership Award 2019 for his leadership within Oakland and buildOn.

The celebration was brought to an end with a dance performance from Oakland High School students Alicia and Jieshan as well as a rousing cheer of “WE ARE BUILDON” with all of the students in attendance on stage.

Thank you to the Bay Area Board and our corporate sponsors—Alexandria, Cushman & Wakefield, GE, JLL, LinkedIn, McKinsey & Company, Oracle, PwC, Rodan + Fields, Salesforce, Sidley, Synchrony, TMG Partners, and Twilio—who made the celebration such a success.