Creating A Movement

Thursday’s plenary speaker Jim Ziolkowski, founder and CEO of buildOn, brought the AF4Q audience to its feet with a passionate discussion of his work helping young people the world over break the cycle of poverty and catalyze change in their communities.
Ziolkowski was on the finance career track at GE when he decided to leave and form a nonprofit organization with his brother to help empower young people in the United States and abroad to break the cycle of poverty and low expectations through service and education.
Through determination, after persistence in pursuing funding and many rejections, buildOn received its seed money and began building schools. To date, it has built 541 schools worldwide, and the students in those schools have contributed 1.1 million hours of service in their communities.
The children in Ziolkowski’s Harlem neighborhood where he began his U.S. work were resilient, he said. They didn’t want to escape their neighborhoods—they wanted to transform them.
Parallels between Ziolkowski’s work and the work of AF4Q communities became immediately clear to his audience. Alliances face similar challenges with funding and have found that persistence and passion are required to succeed.
“If we are willing to confront our fears, we can each light a fire,” he said. “Light a fire that no one can put out.”
Ziolkowski’s audience found his presentation highly inspiring and motivating. “He seemed so real,” said Denise San Antonio Zeman of Cleveland. “My takeaway is the importance of listening and then getting out of people’s way, letting them take ownership.”
Rosa Fraga, a consumer representative from West Michigan, expressed an understanding of what Ziolkowski has faced. “I work at a majority Latino Catholic school,” she said, “And we face similar challenges in funding a service-oriented school. It [his presentation] reaffirmed my belief that we should continue to focus on service.”
Ziolkowski wrote a book based on his experiences that will be published September 17. He has generously decided to use his speaker fee from this meeting to purchase copies of the book for everyone attending the meeting, to be delivered at its release.
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 innercities. Read More On Speakers HERE.

 @BGavio: Failure is not an option - Colmers @HopkinsMedicine re: partnering with states to improve care in communities #AF4Q

@MargotBolon: Theme coming of the State of Partnering with the States - leverage what you've got and listen. #AF4Q

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