Jim Ziolkowski


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Jim Ziolkowski is the Founder, President, and CEO of buildOn, a non-profit organization that builds schools in developing countries while also running community-service programs for high school students in America. 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 cities in the world, Jim derailed his promising career in corporate finance to dedicate his life to an unabashedly idealistic mission. Since it was founded in 1992, buildOn students have contributed more than 1,000,000 hours of service. Many of these students have also been involved in building over 500 schools in Haiti, Nicaragua, Mali, Malawi, Senegal, and Nepal. 

More than 72,000 children, parents, and grandparents attend these schools every day. More than two decades later, 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.” 

He graduated cum laude from Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance, and he has been featured on many news outlets, including NBC’s TODAY Show, CNN, CBS Evening News, and the Big Ten Sports Network.

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