A Message from Board Chair Julie Brunner

5/27/20

Dear friends of Wilder,

I am writing to inform you of difficult decisions Wilder has made regarding changes to our operations that will take effect in the coming weeks and months.

Last year the Board of Directors established the goal that all of Wilder’s operations become financially sustainable within the next three years. We set this goal knowing that decisions about how we use Wilder’s resources to advance our mission are always difficult. Every aspect of our mission is valuable and needed, yet we must face the reality that not everything we do is sustainable in our current environment. In order to ensure the future of Wilder’s presence in the community, these actions are required.

Though our work to meet this goal began well before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, it forced us to accelerate our timeline for making decisions to ensure Wilder remains a force for good now and into perpetuity.

The changes we are making touch all aspects of Wilder’s work, though two areas of our programming will be affected most significantly. We will close our Adult Day Health programming before the end of June 2020. Adult Day Health has improved the quality of life for hundreds of older adults and adults with disabilities for more than four decades. It has been an honor to support community members who have entrusted us to care for them and their loved ones. We are grateful to our dedicated, compassionate staff, our selfless volunteers, our numerous community partners, and everyone who has played a part in making Adult Day Health a safe, welcoming place for participants and their families. Staff are now focused on helping participants and caregivers connect with the supports they need. Wilder will continue to support healthy aging through Meals on Wheels, caregiving services, health and wellness programs, and customized living.

We have also made the incredibly difficult decision to end our training and consulting offerings and the majority of our leadership development programs. Specifically, Wilder will no longer offer the Youth Leadership Initiative, the Neighborhood Leadership Program, the Latino Leadership Program, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Collaborative, and the James P. Shannon Leadership Institute. These programs, with the exception of the Shannon Institute, have concluded their current program cycle and will not renew. The Shannon Institute will continue operating its current cohort through the end of the calendar year. We know the absence of these programs will be felt throughout the community. Everyone who has contributed to these efforts has amplified the voices of leaders from all generations and communities, shaped bold initiatives to address disparities, and joined partners to improve systems that affect all of us. We will make every effort to work with other organizations who may be able to take up these important leadership programs and support them any way we can.

We arrived at this course of action after many years of seeking sustainable funding models and new philanthropic partners in an effort to maintain valuable services. That does not alter the fact that these changes represent a significant loss to our community. We acknowledge that we will be letting go of talented, passionate staff and important programs that have made a positive difference.

Our mission to improve lives today and for generations to come is more critical than ever. We will continue to meet that mission by combining direct services, research, and community collaboration. We will provide services to support mental health, housing stability, early childhood development, and healthy aging for thousands of people each year who represent the rich diversity of our community. Wilder Research will continue to share information and insights to help communities understand issues, identify solutions, and make data-informed decisions. We will reach out to partners, supporters and many more to influence and improve systems. We will navigate these unprecedented times and will seek opportunities to strengthen the community from within.

Sincerely,
Julie Brunner