buildOn NBCU Service Day

Breaking Barriers, Building Schools: ABC Localish Feature

buildOn is featured in a brand new episode of ABC Localish: More in Common, a show that shares inspiring stories of Americans who come together despite their differences. The piece explores the transformative impact of buildOn’s Service Learning Program in the U.S. and our Global School Construction work around the world. It also highlights our expansion in the Bronx thanks to an initial investment of $2.1 million from New York City Public Schools.

Exploring our Origins

Localish dives into buildOn’s origins in an interview with our founder Jim Ziolkowski. He shares about the backpacking trip to Nepal that changed his life, and the joy he witnessed when a rural village celebrated the opening of a new school, despite the extreme poverty and injustice that surrounded them.

That moment eventually led to him founding buildOn with his brother and today, over 32 years later, he remains committed to breaking the cycle of poverty and illiteracy around the world.

buildOn’s Impact

Members of the buildOn community also shared the profound impact that service has had on their lives. After nearly facing prison time, our U.S. Deputy Trek Director Othello Herbert sought a mentor and a way to avoid the violence in his community. He credits buildOn with teaching him him cultural adaptability, nobility, civility, and leadership. These building blocks helped shape Othello’s career aspirations and gave him the foundation to help others.

On a local level, through our Service Learning Program, buildOn helps youth from under-resourced high schools identify the greatest challenges in their communities and provides the opportunities and resources they need to effect real change. We provide services to over 37 high schools in six major U.S. cities–Oakland, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Bridgeport, and the Bronx.

A Fixture of the Community

Localish also interviewed NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks, a longtime buildOn supporter, who shared, “At the end of the day, when kids go to school, we need them to ultimately understand that school has a purpose. And a huge part of that purpose is about how you take the skills that you developed and the knowledge that you have gained so that you can go out and in fact make the world a better place.”

Check out the full episode linked above!