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Supporting disadvantaged youth in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood

March 2, 2023 | Giving and sponsorships

In 2021, BMO donated $1 million to fund BUILD Chicago’s new youth campus in the city’s Austin neighborhood. Completed this year, the new hub is a full city-block campus with 51,000 square feet of new and renovated space surrounded by green playfields and gardens. This welcoming and supportive space will dramatically expand the organization’s services and capacity to reach more youth, promote program growth and bring jobs and workers to the neighborhood.

On February 25, guests gathered for the grand opening with Eric Smith, Vice Chair, U.S. Commercial Bank, giving remarks at the new facility’s ribbon cutting.  

“BUILD’s focus on improving the quality of life for the residents of Austin aligns perfectly with BMO’s Purpose to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life and our commitment to breaking down barriers through BMO EMpower 2.0, our more than $40 billion plan to drive meaningful progress for minority business, communities and families in the communities we serve. We know the work you do will truly make an impact and we look forward to watching this new campus grow into a welcoming and safe space for Chicago youth.” 

– Eric Smith
Vice Chair of the U.S Commercial Bank 

The new youth campus will include a new gym, track and fitness center for community use. New rooms have been constructed for individual and group mental health intake. The music and art program will offer voice and instrument lessons and the expanded Art Studio will drive BUILD Chicago’s creative entrepreneurship and digital recording programs forward. In addition, the new campus will provide training in culinary and food service, and youth can train for IT and data support careers. To reduce and intervene in neighborhood violence, the hours of operation will be extended to midnight, seven days a week.  

Earlier this month, Chief Communications and Social Impact Officer, Kimberley Goode, attended BUILD’s annual Black Table Luncheon event, focused on connecting young people and prominent members of the Black community.  

BUILD is focused on supporting youth in disadvantaged communities by helping them overcome systematic obstacles to achieve positive futures. The organization’s programming is intended to shape a supportive environment encourages intervention and prevention, education, mental health and wellness, and community engagement. Their services reach more than 6,500 youth each year, helping them build hope, resilience, and a path to a promising future. 

Find out more about the project on the BUILD Chicago website.

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