Build It Forward 2023

The ACE Mentor Program Houston is celebrating our 10th Annual Build It Forward on February 4th, 2023! Each year, students and mentors work together to build something with their hands that is then donated to local nonprofits. Past projects have included picnic tables, benches, sheds, and more. This year, nonprofits have three options: a tool shed, a wheeled cart, and a gardening stand.

Concurrently with the build project, we also offer a trades fair so students can meet with companies from the skilled trades industry, learn about what they do, and get exposure to many various careers.

This event is often the first time for our students to use power tools, the first time building something with their own two hands, and the first time to work together with a team of other volunteers to give back to the Houston community. Join us for ten years of firsts this year.

Thank you to our generous sponsors for making this event possible every year! If you or your company is interested in sponsoring ACE Houston, complete our pledge form by January 20th, 2023 in order to get your logo printed on our signage and shirts for the event.

There are many ways to get involved, sign up today!

Calling all ACE Students! Sign up to be on a team to build the projects that will be donated to our nonprofit partners. You'll be paired with other ACE students and adults who will help you follow the construction plans, safely learn to use power tools, and bring your project to life! 

Sign-up now closed

Volunteer your time by helping our teams of students build something with their own two hands. No experience necessary, we'll have experts on site to help with the technical aspects of the build. We also need help serving lunch, running the registration table, and more, so please sign up for a role today! 

Sign-up now closed

Join our Trades Fair and help us show our students the many different careers within the AEC industry! We are looking for companies to set up interactive, educational booths where students can learn about and experience firsthand what you do. Email us at if you're interested in getting involved.

Become of sponsor of the event by making your pledge by January 20th, 2023! You can also donate building supplies and tools needed to complete the projects for our nonprofits and send our students home with their very own tool bag and tool set – check out our wish list and see how you can help. 

Build It Forward Through the years


When our 2021-2022 Build It Forward rolled around on February 12, 2022, we were so excited to be building in person with our students and volunteers once again! OP hosted the event for their second year, and we took on our most ambitious build project ever. It's a bench, it's a table, it's a SUPER convertible bench table! Despite the challenging project, our build teams knocked it out of the park. Some of our nonprofit partners this year included Gigi's Playhouse, Nora's Home, and the Boys & Girls Club of Houston. During the event, we also offered a trades fair, where several of our trades partners set up booths to give students an opportunity to try various skills with their own two hands. At each booth, students added a tool to their new ACE tool bags, and ultimately left with a full set of tools to use at home.

2020-2021: Build it Forward At Home

The 2020-2021 mentoring year threatened to cancel our annual Build It Forward event. We were not able to meet with our students in person due to Covid, but that didn't stop us. Thanks to the help of our board members, mentors, volunteers, and generous donors from the community, we pivoted the event to Build It Forward At Home. The Request for Proposal from our weekly mentor sessions challenge students to individually design a treehouse for someone who, completely hypothetically, needed a break from being stuck inside their house all day. For Build It Forward At Home, we challenged students to turn their treehouse designs into small-scale models for birds. Volunteers packed up boxes of tools and supplies, and students picked up their boxes at drive-through events. Despite the event looking a bit differen this year, our students did not disappoint -- their birdhouses were creative, thoughtful, and impressive.


Our 2019-2020 Build It Forward event took place on January 25, 2020. Our friends at OP hosted us in their incredible office space for the first time. Teams of students and volunteers worked together to build picnic tables for local nonprofits like Covenant House, Combined Arms, and Helping a Hero. Little did we know, this would be our last opportunity to have all of our ACE Houston students and mentors together in person for almost two years, as the world shut down due to Covid just weeks later.


Our 2018-2019 Build It Forward event took place on November 17, 2018 at Marek Brothers. Our build teams composed of students, mentors, and volunteers worked together to build picnic tables and benches. Our nonprofit partners this year included Star of Hope, Project Row Houses, Friends for Life, and Boy Scouts of America. We also hosted a career and college fair for students during the event. Our friends at BridgeYear set up simulations for our students to try their hands at electrical and plumbing work, and representatives from colleges like UH, UTSA, Blinn, UHD, and HCC joined us to talk to students about post-secondary education options in the AEC industry.


Our 2017-2018 Build It Forward event was held at Marek Brothers on December 2, 2017. Our volunteers and students once again built picnic tables for our nonprofit partners. We also held a college fair during the event, so students could talk to representatives about their post-secondary education options. 


Our 2016-2017 Build It Forward was a celebration of five full years of giving back to our community using our hands and our hearts! On December 3, 2016, we once again were hosted by Marek Brothers, and our teams of students and mentors built benches to donate to nonprofits around Houston. Recipients of benches included the Foster Family YMCA, Bethel's Place Empowerment Center, Summer House Houston, and Generation One. Students also had the opportunity to visit booths at our college fair during the event.


Our 2015-2016 Build It Forward event was held on November 21, 2015 at Marek Brothers. This year we built a bench + table combo to give to our nonprofit partners, like Inspiring Possibilities, The Joy School, and Morning Glory Ranch. We also offered a college and career fair for our students to explore opportunities in the AEC industry.


Our 2014-2015 Build It Forward took place at Marek Brothers on November 22, 2014. Our students and mentors built benches with a lid that opened to reveal storage space, and they were a hit with nonprofits who received them. These partners included Habitats for Horses, Casa de Esperanza, and the Houston Humane Society. We also introduced a college and career fair to the event for the first time this year, and representatives from Rice, UH, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and more joined us to talk with our students about their plans after graduating from high school.


Our second annual Build It Forward event took place on November 2, 2013 during the 2013-2014 mentor year. Once again, Marek Brothers hosted us in their space, and this year we built benches to pass on to nonprofits all over Houston.


Our very first Build It Forward! This event was the brainchild of one of our board members, Angela Cotie. It took place on April 27, 2013 and raised funds for our scholarship program. We built sheds to pass along to our local nonprofit partners, including Ronald McDonald House, Moody Gardens, the Nature Discovery Center, and the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center.