Walk in Their Shoes is the powerful, personal story of Jim Ziolkowski's inspiring mission to change the world one community at a time, hailed by the Dalai Lama as “an inspiring tribute to the power of compassion and education: the keys to leading a meaningful life.”
At age twenty-five, Jim Ziolkowski gave up his career in corporate finance to create a not-for-profit organization that turns inner-city youths into community leaders at home and abroad. Under Jim’s leadership, high school students from the South Bronx to San Francisco have contributed more than 1.2 million hours of direct community service, and over the past twenty years, the organization has also constructed more than 550 schools in the world’s economically poorest countries, from Haiti to Nepal.
Jim's tale of far-flung adventures in the most remote corners of the world and America’s toughest inner-cities is a moving testament to the power of faith and teamwork, and shows that when we give, we also help—and heal—ourselves.
Walk in Their Shoes is the story of buildOn’s inspirational work with at-risk teens, its indelible influence on communities around the world, and of the man whose vision, faith, and conviction made it all possible. Jim Ziolkowski “believed that one person could indeed change the world, and his story may inspire others to do the same” (Publishers Weekly).
Twenty-one years ago, Ziolkowski, then a student in the financial management program at GE Capital, was being groomed for a promising career, but after a backpacking trip in Nepal showed him how simple generosity could change the lives of the impoverished, he quit the course and founded the nonprofit buildOn, which brings education to inner-city teens, and transforms them into community service leaders in the U.S. and abroad. After struggling to secure funding and organize volunteers, Ziolkowski begins traveling the globe, documenting injustices in apartheid-era South Africa and among the street children of Brazil, while rallying the community to come together and build schools for their children. Along the way, he meets activists, struggling families, and even Mother Teresa, who provide encouragement and share their stories. Whether discussing female genital mutilation in Mali or the circumstances of volunteer students in Detroit, Ziolkowski balances sobering facts with an approachable writing style. His unflinching determination drove him to establish over 500 schools, turning buildOn from a nascent dream into a multimillion-dollar phenomenon. He believed that one person could indeed change the world, and his story may inspire others to do the same.