$1.25M grant won by Build Change

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Danika Wor­thing­ton

Kaden Se­f­covic, 8, gives his Green Lantern kite a flight Mon­day near Argo Park in Den­ver's Globeville neigh­bor­hood with the tem­per­a­ture in the 60s. Cooler, wet­ter weather is ex­pected for most of the rest of the week. Joe Amon, The Den­ver Post

Den­ver-based Build Change was al­ready helping com­mu­ni­ties in emerg­ing na­tions af­fected by earth­quakes re­build safer homes. So in 2014, the non­profit de­cided to take it to the next level: retrofit homes to with­stand disasters be­fore they strike, sav­ing lives in the process.

The move made sense — it’s al­ready well known in the in­dus­try that in­vest­ing $1 in pre­ven­tion saves $7 in dis­as­ter re­sponse, Build Change founder and CEO El­iz­a­beth Hausler said. But the non­profit ran into a prob­lem — that ini­tial $1 was harder to get than the non­profit ex­pected.

“The re­al­ity of the dis­as­ter/ aid world is it’s a lot eas­ier to raise money af­ter a dis­as­ter, af­ter a house col­lapsed, and sadly peo­ple have been in­jured or killed,” Hausler said. “You’d think there’d be more in­vest­ment in pre­ven­tion, but it doesn’t hap­pen as much as we thought.”

But Build Change is about to get a whole bunch of pre­ven­tion dol­lars.

The Skoll Foun­da­tion an­nounced Mon­day that Build Change is the re­cip­i­ent of its $1.25 mil­lion grant for so­cial en­trepreneur­ship, which the non­profit will put to­ward its pre­ven­tion pro­grams. Three other or­ga­ni­za­tions will also re­ceive awards dur­ing the April 5 cer­e­mony. The foun­da­tion’s founder and chair­man, Jeff Skoll, was the first pres­i­dent of eBay.

“The Skoll Award is so pres­ti­gious in the so­cial en­tre­pre­neur com­mu­nity that it’s such an honor,” Hausler said. “It’s also a val­i­da­tion. It feels like it’s a val­i­da­tion of our progress so far.”

Start­ing in 2004, Build Change fo­cused its first 10 years on chang­ing how the re­lief com­mu­nity helps home­own­ers af­ter earth­quakes. But for its next 10 years, the non­profit de­cided to fo­cus on pre­ven­tion, ex­pand­ing to in­clude ar­eas im­pacted by ty­phoons and adding schools to the list.

Build Change works with gov­ern­ments to de­velop build­ing stan­dards if none ex­ist. It trains ev­ery­one in­volved in con­struc­tion — whether that’s the home­owner or brick maker — on how to build a safe struc­ture that’s lo­cally sourced, cul­tur­ally ap­pro­pri­ate, low cost and safe. The non­profit also works with part­ners to pro­vide ac­cess to fund­ing.

It works in six coun­tries: In­done­sia, Nepal, Philip­pines, Haiti, Colom­bia and Gu­atemala.

Build Change has pro­vided tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance to 50,000 homes and a hand­ful of schools, whether that is by de­sign­ing the struc­ture or train­ing the builder, Hausler said. It’s trained 25,000 peo­ple in ba­sic con­struc­tion and cre­ated 12,000 jobs, she added.

“It is pos­si­ble to build an af­ford­able, dis­as­ter­re­silient home that’s com­fort­able for peo­ple to live in,” Hausler said. “It is pos­si­ble to pre­vent this prob­lem from hap­pen­ing.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.