Chef José Andrés & a Taste of Entrepreneurship at BUILD Metro DC’s Inaugural Gala

DSC_4976Last Thursday, BUILD Metro DC got its first Taste of Entrepreneurship, hosting a Gala event and honoring celebrity chef José Andrés as the recipient of BUILD’s Innovation in Entrepreneurship Award.

Internationally renowned Chef and Owner of ThinkFoodGroup, Andrés shared his personal connection with the progressive work of BUILD Metro DC as a former high school dropout. With 300 local professionals in attendance, Andrés challenged guests to combat the sobering statistic that 1 in 5 students will drop out of high school, and even took the stage to double an offer he put forward from his restaurant during the live auction. During his keynote remarks, Andrés recognized the positive influence BUILD has had on these student’s lives and told student entrepreneur Devonte, “You are doing everything for me to have the privilege to, one day, hire a guy like you.”DSC_4960

Guests got to see first-hand how the BUILD program and proceeds from the Taste of Entrepreneurship Gala would help support and improve the lives of local students in the direct community. An inspiration to join the movement to make higher education equitable for all DC students, students displayed their marketable skills by presenting and selling products from their licensed businesses.

BUILD Metro DC helps to support more than 40 student operated enterprises, with products ranging from children’s books to lipgloss. Cocktails were followed by a seated dinner where guests listened to Andrés’ keynote as well as high school senior and Chief Operating Officer of the student-run business, Tasty Treats, Geraldine Bolden.

Bolden, a resident of Southeast DC’s Ward 7, shared how BUILD “became her second family” as she continues to navigate the challenges of growing up in her neighborhood and preparing to apply to college to become a clinical psychologist. She recited a poem she had written prior to her success in the program, which was entitled “The Girl Who Can’t Go Home.” Facing tremendous struggles at home, Bolden reminisced on a time when she was awoken by gunshots before her school day.

DSC_4994Then she spoke about how even through tough circumstances, she was able to find confidence in herself as she transformed into a 16-year-old businesswoman through BUILD. With a big smile, Bolden exclaimed to the guests, “I am no longer that girl who can’t go home. I am front and center baby and I am making a difference.” Bolden received a standing ovation from the audience after closing her moving remarks, “The family you come from doesn’t matter. The color of your skin doesn’t matter. Your family’s finance doesn’t matter. What does matter is where you are going, not where you have been.”

Through individual investments totaling more than $50,000 bringing the total amount raised from the gala to $120,000, community members committed to help grow BUILD Metro DC’s impact to serve 2,000 students in 10 years, which furthers BUILD’s mission of using entrepreneurial experiences to engage students, and guide them not only through high school graduation, but to post-secondary success.

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