Celebrating Community Impact at the 2018 buildOn Boston Dinner

On Tuesday evening, members of the buildOn movement gathered at the State Room in Boston to celebrate the profound impact that buildOn students and supporters are having on the city of Boston and communities around the world. The evening raised $350,000 in support of buildOn’s work to empower Boston students and underserved communities in seven of the economically poorest countries in the world.

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Above: The 2018 buildOn Boston Dinner took place on Tuesday, May 8th, at the State Room in Boston.

buildOn’s Chief Revenue Officer Marc Friedman kicked off the 2018 Boston Dinner as the evening’s emcee, recognizing buildOn’s Boston Board and corporate sponsors for their partnership. Before inviting the first speaker to the stage, Marc also thanked the members of the volunteer committee who helped plan buildOn’s participation in the Boston Marathon and the five runners who represented buildOn in the race.

The celebration continued with a moving speech from buildOn student Luis Da Silva, a senior at the Community Academy of Science & Health in Boston. Luis spoke passionately about his work to combat violence in Boston through buildOn. “I remember thinking ‘what can I do to stop this violence around me?’” Luis said. “I decided the best way to do something was not to run away from it but to try to change people’s behavior, to educate them and work with them to prevent violence before it happens, which I got the opportunity to do when I joined buildOn.”

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Above: buildOn student Luis Da Silva shared his story of service at the Boston Dinner. Luis has dedicated himself to breaking the cycle of violence through service with buildOn.

After Luis shared his service story, he called buildOn’s President, Founder & CEO Jim Ziolkowski to the stage. Jim shared more of the impact that buildOn students like Luis are having on their own communities in Boston and other major U.S. cities, as well as how buildOn students are working alongside local community members to bring education to rural villages around the world.

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Above: buildOn’s Founder, President, & CEO Jim Ziolkowski shares the impacts of buildOn students in their communities in Boston and other cities around the U.S.

Following Jim’s speech and an appeal in which buildOn Boston supporters showed their generosity, buildOn’s Partnership Director Anthony Curtis shared how buildOn’s corporate partners are getting directly involved in breaking the cycle through buildOn’s Immersion Programs. Anthony then introduced one of the people who has experienced first-hand the power of buildOn’s Partnership Program, Scott McCowan, a senior manager at Ernst & Young.

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Above: buildOn Partnership Director Anthony Curtis shares how buildOn’s corporate partners immerse with students and serve in solidarity.

Scott shared how serving as a coach in buildOn’s Partnership Program proved to be an extremely valuable experience for himself and a group of other EY employees. Over six weeks this winter, Scott and his team coached buildOn students from the Community Academy of Science & Health on skills they’ll need to get into and succeed in college. And the buildOn students taught the EY team about issues facing the Dorchester community and showed them how service can solve these challenges when the partner coaches and students served together.

Scott’s buildOn student partner joined him on stage to represent the student perspective on the partnership program. Lennasia Dixon, a junior at the Community Academy of Science & Health, shared some of her college essay about her buildOn Trek to Nicaragua, which she wrote with the help of the EY team, before sharing how the Partnership Program affected her personally.

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Above: Scott McCowan, a Senior Manager at Ernst & Young and a coach in buildOn’s Partnership Program at the Community Academy of Science & Health in Boston, welcomes his buildOn student partner, Lennasia Dixon, to the stage.

“It meant so much to me to have everyone from Ernst & Young visit Dorchester to serve with us,” Lennasia said. “I got to teach them about our neighborhood and what it’s like to go to school here. And when we did service together, making warm blankets to give to the women and children at the homeless shelter, I got to show them how even doing small things can make a big impact on people and even inspire those people to help others.”

After Lennasia’s speech, the evening concluded with a rousing cheer of “WE ARE BUILDON” from buildOn’s Founder Jim and all of the buildOn students in attendance.

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Above: buildOn Boston students join Jim Ziolkowski on the stage to bring the evening to an end on a high note.

Special thanks to the buildOn Boston Board and the following corporate partners who made the celebration a success: Ernst & Young, GE, John Hancock, Jones Day, McKinsey & Co., Mobile Beacon, Rodan + Fields, PWC, and State Street.