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Bears accept Corporate Community BUILDer award at BUILD gala


Since 2012, the Bears have fostered a strong partnership with one of Chicago's leading gang intervention, violence prevention and youth development organizations, BUILD (Broader Urban Involvement & Leadership Development). Through after school activities, summer camps, mental health care, educational support and a sense of community, BUILD reaches over 6,500 youth and families a year.

As proud supporters of BUILD's mission, the Bears have provided financial assistance though the team's charitable arm, Bears Care, and given youth opportunities to visit Halas Hall, attend training camp and learn about the organization.

BUILD honored the team's commitment Friday night at their annual gala on the city's Southwest side by naming the Bears and Bears Care this year's Corporate Community BUILDer, an award which is presented annually to an organization that believes in supporting young people on their quest to grow into someone great.

The Bears are now in the company of prestigious philanthropic groups in Chicago, as recent winners of the award include BMO Harris Bank, Baird and the Target Corporation.

"We know the Bears have been not only big supporters of BUILD, but also have brought our young people in to give them an idea and opportunity to think about what their future could be in sports," BUILD CEO Adam Alonso said. "You don't have to be the player on Sunday or Monday Night Football. You could actually be the people behind the scenes, and you need all of those positions. There's an investment in young people. We appreciate that BUILD and the Bears are partnered together for young people in the City of Chicago."

Bears chairman George H. McCaskey attended the gala with his wife, Barb, to accept the award on behalf of the entire organization. They were joined on stage by Bears associate writer Gabby Hajduk, customer service coordinator Kareema Hill and director of community & alumni relations Matt Simeone.

McCaskey thanked Alonso and BUILD for their impactful work in the community, adding: "Keep building hope. Keep building lives. Keep building futures."

"It's a great opportunity for us to see what can be done to make the greatest city in the world even better," McCaskey said on the Bears' ongoing support of BUILD. "The work that BUILD is doing at a grassroots level is very impressive. It's just an honor for the Bears to be associated with that work."

From left-right: Adam Alonso, Gabby Hajduk, Kareema Hill, Matt Simeone, Barb McCaskey, George H. McCaskey
From left-right: Adam Alonso, Gabby Hajduk, Kareema Hill, Matt Simeone, Barb McCaskey, George H. McCaskey

The Bears have enhanced that grassroots work by hosting BUILD students at Halas Hall on a variety of occasions. In 2022, general manager Ryan Poles hosted the team's inaugural Scout School, where BUILD students were introduced to the role of scouting in the NFL through film breakdown and mock NFL Combine stations.

Two weeks after Scout School, Alonso was named the Bears' first-ever Inspire Change Changemaker, a league-wide initiative to recognize individuals creating a difference in their communities. As part of the award, BUILD was gifted a $10,000 grant from the NFL Foundation through Bears Care.

Poles continued his support of the organization last fall when he visited BUILD's campus in the Humboldt Park neighborhood and met with various staff and students.


The Bears partnered with Amazon last year to host over 40 students from BUILD and Youth Guidance at Halas Hall. Both organizations received a $25,000 donation from Amazon and each student received a tablet. The group also met with several Bears players and participated in talking circles.

Alonso expressed his gratitude for the entire organization's ongoing support for BUILD and its youth. He also thanked the Bears for their commitment to the community year-round, not just during the 18 weeks of an NFL season.

What Alonso appreciated the most was seeing McCaskey attend the gala and represent the organization.

"It makes sense," Alonso said. "We appreciate everyone from the Bears organization, but obviously the McCaskey family coming and being here – as the head of the entire operation, it shows humility, in my mind. George is just a regular guy. He was great when we were all together. He was packing kits with us, sat and podcasted with us — just so humble, such a great guy. We're so glad he's here to accept the Bears' award."

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