Nominee’s nameApril Jones-Boyle

SEEN Changemaker CategoryNonprofits

A picture of the nomineeA picture of the nominee
Nominee’s job titleFounder, Executive Director, and CAO (Chief Ambition Officer)
Nominee’s cityFerndale, Detroit, Pontiac
Please describe why the nominee is a SEEN Changemaker:

Build Institute is an idea activator and small business accelerator focused on grassroots community entrepreneurship. We assist people in turning their project, business or non-profit ideas into reality by providing the necessary tools, education, and support to get started and grow. To date, we have graduated over 1800 aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs from both our 8-week small business and project planning class and our social entrepreneurship class, with over 600 starting successful businesses in the city. We also offer networking events, mentorship opportunities, connections to resources, and a nurturing community that allows ideas to develop and flourish over time.

Tell us about the individual’s accomplishments:

Founding team member of D:hive, where she was Director of Small Business Initiatives and helped launch the Build program. She is also the co-creator of a number of grass-roots ventures including the award-winning family Hootenanny kids concert series and CD, the critically acclaimed Indonesian pop-up restaurant Komodo Kitchen and the all mom rock band The Mydols- featured on the Cable television series Gene Simmons Family Jewels. She sits on the board of Kiva Detroit and the advisory board for Ponyride. She is also co-owner and investor in Gold Cash Gold, building and restaurant, in Corktown. April is married to Model D Co-founder Brian Boyle and is the mother of three amazing boys – Carter, Gram Henry, and Rowen.

How is he/she impacting the community or the lives of people in Metro Detroit or across the world.

April is a staggeringly prolific entrepreneur and a fireball of creativity, Boyle has disrupted, engaged, impacted, finessed and handcrafted a life and a career that is a textbook demonstration of how to be a force multiplier on planet earth. It is difficult to know where to begin describing her spirit and her ascent. I’ll try.
Currently, April Jones Boyle is the Founder and Executive Director of Build Institute, an organization that she conceived and grew out of the D:hive, where she was also a founding member and Director of the Small Business Initiatives. I almost need bullet points for the rest of the list. She was the co-creator of several ventures, including the Hootenanny kids concert series; she is a co-owner in Gold Cash Gold; she is on the board of Kiva Detroit and the advisory board for Ponyride. And that is not all.
She is the co-creator of Komodo Kitchen, an Indonesian pop-up supper club that in 2011, was one of the first pop-ups on the scene in the Detroit area, and was hosted by the Pinwheel Bakery in Ferndale. Concentrating solely on Build Institute now, Boyle fuels a network of grassroots programs to assist people in turning their project or business ideas into reality “Build Institute is focused on access and equity.”
And they have hit some amazing milestones. I give up. I’m using bullet points:
• 6 years of small business activation and support with participants from over 100 zip codes with our participants being 70% women and 60% people of color
• 10 years of Open City forums with thousands of attendees
• 1,800 graduates with over 600 businesses and 1000 jobs created or retained
• Winner of the Bank of America Neighborhood Builder Award
• $175,450 in funding to 30 entrepreneurs through Kiva Detroit
“I think entrepreneurship is an art,” Boyle says. “You have to be open to opportunity and try new things.”
As a result of her lackluster experience with an accelerator years ago, Boyle ended up becoming a founding member of D:hive in Detroit and launched an 8-week business planning course for entrepreneurs. It was focused on small businesses that were aspiring to be brick and mortar lifestyle, ma-and-pa, micro and social enterprise, passion businesses, side hustles -- all the stuff that didn’t neatly fit into the common tech and scale business sector.
“If you look at the demographics at the time [of D:hive], the economics of it was focused on technology and scale companies, and the demographics of that sector was mostly white male. And when you looked at the demographics of the city of Detroit, those two things did not match up,” Boyle explains. “I saw an opportunity and a gap that showed we were leaving a bunch of talent on the table.”
April knew that if Detroit was going to make a full and sustainable recovery, and be a vibrant, inclusive, diverse city then, everyone needed to have an opportunity to build wealth, a business, a life and contribute in some way. Her passion was to make this vision of Detroit a reality.
“We launched private training classes because we saw a gap that needed education, resources and support for entrepreneurs who were women and people of color. The program grew exponentially and I became the Director of Small Business Initiatives inside of D:hive,” Boyle says.
Build Institute eventually spun off of D:hive and continued under the Downtown Detroit Partnership. Recently, Build Institute left the DDP and became a 501.C3 organization.
Build Institute is now partnering with the City of Ferndale to provide a series of classes and activities to support aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs and small businesses. With support from the City, classes are open to Ferndale residents or anyone looking/intending to open a business is Ferndale. Registration is open for the Build Basics and GROW Peer Roundtables to be held at the Rust Belt Market.
The core business and project planning class is designed for aspiring and established entrepreneurs. Classes cover all the basics of starting a business – from licensing to financial literacy, market research to cash flow and more. Participants leave with a completed business plan, a cohort of fellow entrepreneurs in Ferndale, and the knowledge and confidence to take your idea to the next level.


The SEEN Changemaker Awards are brought to you by

Peter and Danialle Karmanos