Building a United Interfaith Lexington through Direct-Action (BUILD) is an organization of 20 religious congregations located in Lexington, Kentucky. BUILD is an interfaith, interracial, grassroots, multi-issue, proactive organization. Since its inception in 2003, BUILD has been constituent-led and employs the practices of direct-action community organizing. BUILD is developing a powerful grassroots organization, made up of congregations situated in low-to moderate-income communities that are capable of creating system-wide change in Lexington.
The goals of BUILD are:
· To develop a responsible organization to address local issues of concern to member congregations/groups, through a process of education, training, research, and action.
· To strengthen the individual congregations/groups by training existing leaders in organizing skills, identifying and training potential leaders, building the participation of larger numbers of their members, and attracting the participation of new members.
· To build and deepen relationships among diverse segments of our community by bringing together groups from various cultural, economic, and religious backgrounds around common interests.
· To enable religious congregations and neighborhood groups to act on our shared values of human worth, dignity, and justice.
Lexington-Fayette County is known as an affluent, well educated community. It is home of both the University of Kentucky and Transylvania University. Lexington enjoys an economic climate that includes a mix of manufacturing, financial, and light industry components. In many ways, Lexington is a very prosperous community.
However, this is only half of the story. Of the estimated 301,569 individuals living in Lexington, 17.4% of them are living in poverty. Some areas of Fayette County have nearly 40% of their residents living in poverty. Additionally, Lexington has a county-wide unemployment rate of 6.7%, but some areas of the county have unemployment rates of up to 47%. Lexington ranks #75 in the nation’s highest unemployment rates.
The work of BUILD, through congregation-based community organizing, is specifically designed to empower individuals to join together to make long-lasting institutional changes within Lexington. Emphasis is placed on engaging those who are directly experiencing the effects of systemic problems so that they are challenged and trained to build power in order to change their situations.