Author Jim Ziolowski at Detroit Public Library, Thurs. Dec. 5!

The Detroit Public Library and the buildOn organization present a Book Launch Party for the founder and CEO of buildOn Jim Ziolowski on Thursday, December 5, 2013 from 5:30-8:00pm at the Detroit Main Library branch (5201 Woodward Ave. Detroit, MI 48202). Come out and celebrate with the Michigan native as he debuts his new book Walk in Their Shoes during an evening that promises to be fun and enlightening.  The event will feature a panel discussion, book signing and presentations from buildOn students that are dedicated to changing the city of Detroit. Cocktail Reception takes place in the Friends Conference Room followed by a Panel Discussion in the Clara Stanton Jones Friends Auditorium. Books will be available for signing and purchase at the event courtesy of Book Beat. This event is Free and open to the public.  To get your tickets for this event click here.

For more information, please contact Michelle Mirzoian at 248.217.7456/312.441.7108 or at

“Twenty-one years ago, Jim Ziolkowski gave up a fast-track career in corporate finance to dedicate his life to buildOn, an organization that turns inner-city teens into community leaders at home and abroad. He set out to show not that he could change the world, but how each one of us can, through the power of service to others.

Today, buildOn students have contributed more than 1.2 million hours of service, from Detroit and the South Bronx to Haiti, Mali, and Nepal, while building more than five hundred fifty schools worldwide. Together, they are breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations in their own lives and transforming their communities.

An international chronicle of faith and the boundless potential of the human spirit, Walk in Their Shoes tells the story of Jim’s movement and the thousands of young people who have decided to step forward, step up, and make a difference.”

Jim Ziolkowski is the Founder, President and CEO of buildOn, a non-profit organization that builds schools in developing countries while also running afterschool service programs in America’s toughest inner-cities. At home or abroad, Jim’s goal is to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations through service and education. Inspired by his own travels to some of the most impoverished countries in the world and his experiences living in Harlem, Jim derailed his fast-track career in corporate finance at GE to dedicate his life to buildOn.

The seeds for buildOn were planted when Jim was hitchhiking and backpacking around the world after graduating from college in 1989. During a twenty-seven-day hike into the Himalayas, Jim came upon a village in Nepal that was in the midst of a two-day celebration for the opening of a school. For the last several months, he had witnessed the immense suffering caused by extreme poverty. But in this village he saw something different. He saw the hope and courage of a community, and it all revolved around education.

When he got back to the United States and began his job in corporate finance at GE, Jim could not shake those memories of poverty abroad and he was more acutely aware of poverty faced by many urban youth here in America. So he quit GE to start buildOn.

More than two decades later, buildOn’s afterschool program has transformed the lives of tens-of-thousands of youth by empowering them through service and education. In 2012, Jim returned to Misomali. Since the completion of their first school, the village has constructed four more on their own. Now instead of 150 kids, there are more than 1,000 kids attending school: 533 of them are girls, and four of the five chiefs from that region are women. The prominence of girls and women in this community is a direct result of their investment in education.

Today, Jim is still the guiding force of buildOn. Deeply influenced by his own religious faith, shaped by his personal meetings with Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama, and hailed by President Barack Obama, Jim likes to say, “We’re not a charity – we’re a movement.” Jim has been most profoundly influenced by the youth he has worked with from America’s biggest cities to the poorest villages on the planet. It is their courage, hope and thirst for change that inspire Jim every day.

Jim Ziolkowski graduated cum laude from Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance. He has been featured on NBC’s TODAY Show, CNN’s AC360, CBS Evening News, and Big Ten Sports Network, among others. In fall of 2010, Jim was named one of Catholic Digest’s 2010 Catholic Heroes.

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