Tag Archive: Professional development

  1. Donations

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    At Build Institute, we break barriers and provide self-empowerment by fostering confidence, validating ideas and preparing entrepreneurs to launch their ideas.

    With over 1500 graduates, more than 500 businesses, and nearly 1000 jobs created, we are dedicated to making Detroit the leader in equitable entrepreneurship. 

    Core to our mission is keeping our programs accessible to everyone. With your help, we can continue to provide affordable education and support to both aspiring and established entrepreneurs. Help us impact more people who dream of owning their own business and support us in uplifting neighborhood enterprises.

    Build with us by making a donation today!

    Donate Now

    Please make checks payable to Build Institute. 
    Checks should be sent to 2701 Bagley Ave, Detroit, MI 48216


  2. Build Speaks at South By Southwest (SXSW)

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    In March 2017, Build was invited by Michigan House to speak on the panel about equity and inclusion in communities. Exploring the strategies employed by Michigan’s communities to build an inclusive future that encourages opportunity for all.

    Panelists include: 

    April Boyle of Build Institute
    Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss
    James Chapman of Rock Ventures LLC
    Pamela Lewis of New Economy Initiative

    South By Southwest (SXSW) dedicates itself to helping creative people achieve their goals. Founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. The event, an essential destination for global professionals, features sessions, showcases, screenings, exhibitions, and a variety of networking opportunities. SXSW proves that the most unexpected discoveries happen when diverse topics and people come together.

    Photo Credit: Shutter Sam
    Build alum Beaubien Fine Foods (jams, Molly O’Meara & Noelle Lothamer) featured in the “Back to Our Roots” brunch with special guests including the mayor of Grand Rapids, Rosalynn Bliss and New Economy Initiative, Director, Pam Lewis among others. Build alum Firebrand Candles (Quinn Hamilton) featured during South by Southwest.
  3. Build Institute Honored by Bank of America



    Build Institute is honored to be selected as a 2016 Neighborhood Builder from Bank of America. The recognition awards high-performing nonprofits that have made a significant impact in the community working in the bank’s priority funding areas of housing, jobs and hunger relief. The Neighborhood Builder program is a strategic investment that pairs leadership training with a $200,000 unrestricted grant over two years so leaders gain valuable skills while applying funding where it is most needed.

    Build Institute has been recognized for its work in improving financial lives through entrepreneurship and its alignment to Bank of America’s work to address issues fundamental to economic mobility in order to build thriving communities

    For Build Institute, the funding will be used to build up the organization’s technical assistance program for entrepreneurs, allow for the hiring of an on-staff small business advisor to offer one-on-one consulting, and provide funds for its micro-lending program.

    “This is a game changer for Build Institute. To be recognized by Bank of America and be among such distinguished company is truly humbling,” said April Jones Boyle, Founder and Executive Director, Build Institute. “This support will help us reach more aspiring and experienced small business owners as we further our mission to make Detroit the global leader in equitable entrepreneurship.”

    Since 2004, through Neighborhood Builders, Bank of America has helped nonprofits create greater impact in their communities and better prepare for the future by providing the tools and resources they need to develop stronger strategic plans, chart a succession plan, navigate through tough economic times, and enhance their funding opportunities. Since the program’s inception, Bank of America has invested more than $180 million in 900 nonprofit organizations across the country, providing leadership resources to nearly 2,000 nonprofit leaders, and the program has been recognized as the nation’s largest philanthropic investment in nonprofit leadership development.

    Thank you Bank of America for your support of Build Institute and entrepreneurs in Detroit.

  4. A Spirit of Detroit: Build grad reflects and thanks those that have helped

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    I’m a relative newcomer to Detroit, having moved here in 2012 to teach elementary school on the west side of the city. When I tell my friends and family on the east coast why this city is so special to me, the spirit of Detroiters always stands out in my mind. Everyone I meet is passionate and involved in something to create a stronger Detroit – whether it’s working with youth, rehabbing a home, starting a business, organizing a block club, volunteering in spare time, and much more. Doing all these things is not the unique part, but it’s the underlying purpose – contributing to something greater – that sets Detroit apart.


    With all the challenges Detroiters have faced in the past and present, those who have chosen to stay and those who are moving here now share a common passion for making Detroit a better place. It’s an infectious spirit that has always made me want to play my part.

    Detroit Horse Power 1
    Photo used with permission from Detroit Horse Power.


    Roughly one year ago, I left my job as an elementary school teacher to start a new social venture, Detroit Horse Power. We plan to open a new urban equestrian center that repurposes vacant land and provides year-round programming for local children, helping them develop critical skills that set them up for future success. We have achieved a lot in one year: incorporating as a nonprofit, receiving tax-exempt status from the IRS, raising an initial budget of $6,000, organizing two successful pilot programs in June and August reaching a total of 18 kids, The vision was mine, but I can’t do this work alone and I am deeply grateful to all the different people and organizations that have helped Detroit Horse Power get where it is today.


    It’s this trend that makes me most hopeful about our city. By unlocking the brilliance across Detroit, we have the talent and resources to achieve incredible things. Synergy will multiply our achievements – with potential partnerships like locally sourced hay for horses to eat, recycling dumped tires to create synthetic footing for our arenas, and composting horse manure to fertilize urban gardens. We are stronger together; Detroiters know this implicitly. Lifting each other up is the only way we can move forward because our collective success is tied to the fate of each individual. And if we have the power to help someone realize their dreams, we will all be better off as a result.

    Detroit Horse Power 2
    Photo used with permission from Detroit Horse Power.


    So as I reflect on a successful first year of Detroit Horse Power, I would like to honor many of those that have helped me along this first step in this journey. There are many to recognize and I’m likely forgetting a few. I hope this goes to show that your efforts are deeply appreciated and to let others know of these wonderful folks and the larger spirit they embody.


    • The Build Institute has been tremendous to my development as a social entrepreneur between the Build Social class as well as events and networking with Build alumni and fantastic resources. After going through Build Social, I got to work with Eastern Michigan’s Center for Advancing Social Entrepreneurship, who generously donated their time to give me guidance, feedback, and connect me with critical resources. And Gingras Global LLC has worked with me one-on-one to put in place systems to document our finances and social impact.
    • There are several other organizations that have taken an interest in our social mission and helped lift up what we are doing. Detroit Future City has been a great supporter of our plans for innovative land use and helped connect to valuable expertise and resources. Michigan Community Resources has a terrific pro bono legal services program along with valuable events. Two Wayne State programs – the Community/Business Law Clinic and Blackstone Launchpad have been great opportunities to get initial legal support and further develop our business plan, pitching in front of investors and Detroit stakeholders for grant funding. Lawyers from Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss and Olson Bzdok & Howard have also patiently answered many questions to support our strategic planning.
    • Detroit Horse Power’s community partners in our first two pilot programs were Alternatives For Girls and Burns Elementary/Middle School, which both took a leap of faith on a new organization, entrusting me to successfully deliver on the program I had in my head.
    • Those camps would not have been possible without our generous hosts at the Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Center and Equinox Farm. These gracious folks made their facility and their wonderful horses available for our kids to have amazing experiences this summer. In order to get our kids to the second camp, Summer in the City gave us a sweet deal on using one of their 15-person vans.
    • We had an amazing group of volunteers from across southeast Michigan (and even one from Indiana!) who gave their time and skills to make this program a success for our participants. A big thanks to the United States Pony Club, and FCA’s Motor Citizens Program (which also led to a grant opportunity). We also had guest speakers from different equine professions give up time in their busy schedules to spend time with our kids!
    • And this couldn’t happen without the grants pledges we received early on from the Healthy Environments Partnership and Eastern Michigan’s Student Funders Group. I also have to plug for Detroit SOUP, which I pitched at last November when this was just a crazy idea and then returned to win the crowd’s vote in June.
    • Support also came from the United Way Meet Up & Eat Up program, which provided free lunches to our campers. Meijer also contributed a gift card.
    • Teach For America-Detroit has been a huge champion for us, giving support on data measurement, resources, networking, and media outreach – which led to a terrific article in the Detroit News. I’m also so thankful to the folks at Tell who produced an amazing video for us.
    • I’d also like to thank Nancy Kotting who took the time to write a terrific piece about Detroit Horse Power in our early stages, which was published in the Huffington Post. Additionally, Kecia Freed has patiently worked through a half dozen iterations of our soon-to-be released logo. Kate Sumbler has been so generous with her time in working up our new website (also launching soon). Then there are dozens of individuals, family, and friends from around the country that have offered advice and perspective at various points in this journey.


    Thank you to all who have lifted Detroit Horse Power closer to our goals through your generous contributions. The best way I know to honor your acts of kindness is to pay it forward. I know this collective spirit will lift Detroit to new heights.

    Detroit Horse Power 3
    Photo used with permission from Detroit Horse Power.


  5. Do you really need a mentor?


    You’ve been moving toward fulfilling your dream of starting a business or taking your existing business to the next level.  Or maybe you’re feeling stuck and you just want to take a step in the right direction.  You conclude that you need a mentor, and you know just the person to ask. But hold up! Do you really need a mentor? 

    At some point, or should I say at various points in your life journey you’ll realize the need for a mentor, a counselor, or a coach.  Look at the Venn diagram below and you’ll see that while the three have much in common, they are specific in their orientation.  So, here’s a quick overview to help you think through which of them you really need and when.


    Accountability, Responsibility, Expertise (ARE): No mentoring, counseling or coaching relationship will be successful without ARE. 

    Accountability for outcomes rests with both mentor and mentee, counselor and counselee, coach and coachee. All parties agree to the what, when, and how of the relationship and make themselves accountable to each other for that process.

    The responsibility for taking action on what comes out of the mentoring, counseling, or coaching relationship rests solely with the person on the receiving end.  It’s important that you have the ability to respond appropriately time, resource, or otherwise to the agreed upon plan and process.  It may very well be that you need to make preparation in areas of your life in order to have either of these relationships.

    Knowledge, experience and expertise is what makes a mentor able to mentor, a counselor able to counsel, and a coach able to coach.  For the counselor, among other things, it requires knowledge of how issues affect people and how to help them navigate, manage, and overcome them.  For the coach it requires knowledge and experience in bringing out or strengthening people’s talents, skills, gifts, and executing on plans to use them.  For the mentor it requires the ability to take a comprehensive view of all areas of the individual’s life and to teach through modeling, coaching, and sometimes counseling.

    What most call mentoring today is more akin to coaching or advice.

    Mentoring is Life-Oriented; it’s broad, collaborative, and comprehensive.  What most call mentoring today is more akin to coaching or advice.  Think of Mr. Miyagi and Obi-Wan Kenobi as character examples and note the time and commitment that make up a successful mentoring relationship.

    Counseling is Issue-Oriented; it’s specific, individualized, and focused.  Marriage, grief, career, and emotional issues are just a few types of counseling.  In some cases counseling positions individuals to be more successful in mentoring or coaching relationships. It’s also possible for a coach or mentor to identify or recommend professional counseling of some sort to increase the likelihood of success.  Think of Deanna Troi as a character example and note that counselors need to examine and analyze the thinking around specific issues and other issues that may connect to them.

    Coaching is Talent or Skills-Oriented; it’s based on the assumption that with the right support, the coachee has the capacity and capability to develop and execute a desired plan of action.  Leadership, life, career, and business are just a few types of coaching.  The coach helps to strengthen and/or focus the coachees’ skills and talents to execute a plan.   Think of Yoda as a character example and note how coaches don’t do the work but, rather, help individuals to realize how they can.

    So, as you continue about the business of business and life consider which relationship fits for where you are now and remember “when the student is ready the teacher appears.”