Wilder's Community Initiatives team works alongside community collaboratively, crafting solutions that impact systems, organizations, communities and individuals.

Community Initiatives

Building community capacity, one collaborative project at a time

Racial equity as north star illustration

Wilder is committed to addressing complex challenges that will advance equity in Saint Paul and across Minnesota. In our Community Initiatives, we work alongside community collaboratively, crafting solutions that impact systems, organizations, communities and individuals.
Community Initiatives are not programs, but rather time-limited collaborative projects that seek to build community capacity.

For more information on collaborating with us, contact:

Kick Start Your Initiative With Us

Effective solutions require diverse stakeholders to work together. Serving as a bridge between communities, organizations, systems and perspectives, our work seeks to facilitate and hold space for collaboration and co-creation. We work to guide change, build shared ownership and catalyze collective action through customized solutions. This can be time-intensive, but the investment is worth it as the outcomes achieved are relevant and grounded in reality.

Collaborate with us on your next project

  • Community engagement to advance equity
  • Trainings to build systems thinking skills
  • Integrating a racial equity lens into programmatic or organizational work
  • Organizational change projects that build capacity to advance equity
  • Supporting community collaborations seeking to advance equity

Gain customized solutions and deliverables

  • Design and facilitation of community engagement processes and systems change processes
  • Facilitation of Intercultural Development Inventory process
  • Training on racial equity, systems thinking, collaboration and community engagement
  • Consultation and support of community-driven collaborations
  • Multi-faceted organizational change strategies for advancing equity
  • Review of organizational programs and policies using a racial equity lens

Current Community Initiatives & Projects in Saint Paul and Minnesota

Community Engagement to Advance Equitable Systems Change

A collaborative working at the intersections of racial equity, community engagement and systems change in order to change how systems operate and equip them to advance equity. Working in partnership with, Nexus Community Partners, People Serving People, the Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ Future Services Institute, and Saint Paul Ramsey County Public Health to develop a set of adaptive, flexible tools and frameworks for advancing equitable systems change.

Collaborative Projects

Network Weavers Community of Practice

A group of practitioners who meet regularly to build our network weaving capacity, with a focus on building networks that dismantle white supremacy and advance racial equity.

Systems Change Projects 

Supporting systems in effectively engaging community in order to collaboratively build equitable, accessible and culturally relevant systems. Current projects include:

Winona Health Equity Project

An effort to equip local organizations to collaborate effectively to advance health equity by addressing social determinants of health.

Early Childhood Systems Reform

Partnering with the Minnesota Children’s Cabinet to engage community in reforming our statewide early childhood system in order to create an equitable system.

Resources for Collaborative Success

Check out the practical reference book built upon credible, research-based information as well as the online companion with tools and ideas to help you collaborate successfully.

Check out our guest blog post with Leadership Learning Community

Risk-Taking for Racial Justice: Building Networks That Support Us

In the picture:

  • Mishel House, Kirsten Johnson & Sindy Morales Garcia – Wilder Center for Communities
  • Scott Labott – Bush Foundation
  • Terri Thao & Chalonne Wilson – Nexus Community Partners
  • Susan Schuster – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
  • Amanda Ziebell Mawanda – Propel Nonprofits

October 2019 | MSP Network Weavers – Weaving Racially Just Networks: Collective Meaning Making through Art Evaluation

Reflecting on meaning-making in our society:

  • How have we been taught to make meaning?
  • How can collective sense-making help advance racial justice in our networks?
  • What ways of making meaning does dominant culture privilege or see as most credible/valid?
  • What do we miss out on when we are limited to dominant culture’s ways of making meaning?

Click here to read the harvest notes from that conversation.

Before our lunch break, we used Speed Networking and Self-Portrait Network Mapping to continue reflecting on our morning activities. We asked:

  • What squared with you? Resonated?
  • What is still circling around in your mind?
  • What changes or action do you want to take?

Click here to read the harvest notes from that group reflection. 

Meet the Community Initiatives Team

Community Initiatives at Wilder are led by a dynamic team of practitioner consultants with long-standing expertise in collaboration, community engagement, racial equity and system change.

Kirsten Johnson

Director of Community Engagement & Systems Change, Wilder Community Initiatives
Kirsten Johnson is the Director of Community Engagement & Systems Change at the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, where she manages a portfolio of community-driven projects aimed at creating equity. Kirsten’s work focuses on engagement, collaboration and systems change addressing complex…

Sindy Morales Garcia

Senior Program Associate, Wilder Community Initiatives
Driven by a commitment to social justice and wholeness, Sindy works with the Wilder Foundation’s Community Initiatives team to catalyze the cultural shifts needed to co-create sustainable and transformational change towards racial equity. Her work is informed by a rich tapestry of…