BUILDing a Future: Part II

One might say that BUILD takes underperforming students and turns them into achieving businesspeople. But that’s really just a small part of the program. As the organization’s website says: Entrepreneurship is the hook. College is the goal.

Current companies, said site director Alia Peera, include Lock-It Socks – snaps to hold pairs of socks together in the washing machine – and Elegant Pet Charms – matching charms for pet and owner. 

“This isn’t just a hypothetical,” she said. “They’re doing it all. They’re actually creating these companies.”


Over the course of four years, director of development Kamilla Kovacs said, the students learn both business and academic skills. They are coached for their SAT’s, they visit college campuses, and they receive help with their essays.

At the same time, they learn skills like public speaking, critical thinking and financial literacy. Perhaps most importantly, they learn how to ask for help.

“We are providing not only tutoring but also a wider breadth around professionalism and career skills,” Kamilla said, “that they are going to need to be successful that many of the students don’t get in the communities they come from.” 

In 2013, Natalee gave the keynote address at BUILD’s annual gala. 

“All my life,” she said in her speech, “I had been surrounded by people who had great potential to be more than they could be. But because they didn’t have the right tools to help them, they ended up going down the wrong path.  I am incredibly grateful that BUILD has given me the right tools to get me where I am today.”