Seattle Foundation Blog

N2N Spotlight: BUILD - Brothers United in Leadership Development

BUILD strives to empower Black men as leaders and mentors who make positive change in the African American community.

March 26, 2020

By Elaine Chu, Senior Philanthropic Advisor and Aileen Balahadia, N2N Program Consultant

BUILD (Brothers United in Leadership Development) has a vision to empower Black men as leaders and mentors who make positive change in our community, by instilling pride, hope and perseverance in young men. “I joined BUILD because I wanted to be the mentor I needed growing up as a young boy in South Seattle,” said Andre Franklin, one of BUILD’s leadership team members.

On a recent Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) site visit, the N2N Advisory Committee commended BUILD for their members’ desire to be self-reflective, find power within themselves, and build strong coalitions amongst community leaders and organizations with strong roots in their neighborhoods.

Since 2013, BUILD has led community engagement and grassroots organizing in South Seattle and South King County neighborhoods. By fostering deep partnerships, BUILD works to develop leaders, share resources, and raise awareness about key issues facing their communities. BUILD focuses on grassroots community organizing by using fun, interactive events and workshops to help young people develop life skills. They also work with adults of color through team building, leadership development, goal setting, employment supports, and navigating systems. They are focused on developing current leadership, while also cultivating the next generation of community leaders and organizers in their community.

In the past year, N2N supported BUILD’s unique “Barbershop Series” that brought together 150 diverse people, centered on the Black community, to discuss important community issues, while receiving free haircuts. Discussions ranged from education and discipline, to disrupting the school to prison pipeline with more restorative practices, to getting connected to jobs and internships for young men.

Winter 2020 Grant

The winter 2020 grant from N2N will assist BUILD in creating safe spaces for Black men and boys through healing circles that help address historical and ongoing trauma.  These circles will build trust and relationships with Black men and boys aimed at increasing equity, access and opportunity. The outreach, largely located in Kent or South Seattle, will include community conversations, interactive activities, and intergenerational dialogues. The group emphasized the lack of safe spaces for the community to show up just as they are, without judgement. BUILD is asking for community members’ support to rally around young boys and to create a strong foundation by which unimpeded healing and leadership development can occur.

“BUILD: It’s a lifestyle.” is the group’s mantra – succinctly offering a vision for community-based leadership, coupled with their goal of sustaining this work for generations to come.

To learn more about BUILD, please check out their website at

All of the N2N partners from the winter 2020 cycle are listed below with a short description of the grant purpose:

  • BUILD (Brothers United in Leadership Development): To hold several healing and learning circles for Black men and boys in Kent and South Seattle that will focus on building healthy, trusting, intergenerational relationships in order to activate the community to work on important issues.
  • Centro Comunitario de Autoayuda: To empower members of the White Center/Burien Latinx community to improve health and individual well-being, through techniques like meditation, yoga, exercise and access to healthy food. Centro Comunitario will also organize community events focused on civic engagement, environmental justice and education.
  • COMIDA**: To support Central American youth, based in White Center and nearby communities, with a summer leadership series focused on issues such as food equity, cultural preservation/pride, and connecting cross-culturally with other youth of color.
  • Mujer al Volante: To support the empowerment and encouragement of Latinx women to become independent and civically engaged in their communities in South Seattle, in part by training them on how to secure their driving permit.
  • Nurturing Roots: To engage South Seattle community members of color in healthy eating and food justice through public programs (movie nights and farm-to-table dinners), as well as a series of informational and instructional videos and an expanded technology platform.
  • South King County Discipline Coalition: To support parents and community leaders in South Seattle through a series of six high quality trainings, led by trainers of color, focused on student rights, positive discipline and advocacy skills.
  • Team Redeemed Life Center*: To support "Community Night Walks" conducted together with the local African American and other diverse communities, law enforcement, and faith based partners, in order to promote community safety and increase positive activities in hot spots in Kent East Hill.
  • Wakulima USA*: To support community building amongst pan-African immigrant farmers and refugees in Kent to create connections, encourage entrepreneurship, and connect them to resources to promote healthy communities, organic farming, healthy eating and rebuilding confidence.

*First-time grantee of Neighbor to Neighbor
**First grant ever written by the organization

We invite you to learn more about the history of the Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) program by watching this short video.

You may also explore additional information about Seattle Foundation’s Neighbor to Neighbor program and the Center for Community Partnerships.



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