Courageous Stories

Highlighting community stories of strength & resiliency

One-Day Volunteer Opportunity Turns into Ten-Year Relationship with Wilder

Mary Cahill first became involved with Wilder when she volunteered for the Minnesota Homeless Study. Her day interviewing people experiencing homelessness turned into a decade-long relationship with Wilder. Read this story »

From Meals on Wheels Volunteer to Customer, Ron Walcheski Has Come Full Circle

Ron Walcheski and his family knew he needed some changes to continue living independently after he fell while grocery shopping and broke his nose and other bones. Ron’s son, Robert, suggested he sign up for Meals on Wheels once or twice a week. Read this story »

Wilder Therapists Join the Classroom

Ashley Gramling had more than the usual first-day jitters when classes started at her school in the Twin Cities suburb of New Hope last year. Ashley, previously a middle school teacher with experience teaching kids with autism, joined an innovative project at her school that brings Wilder therapists into the classroom for elementary… Read this story »

MIGIZI Green Jobs Pathway: Preparing Native American Youth for Green Energy Careers

Learn how Green Jobs Pathway helps youth discover their cultural role as caretakers of the earth, develop their workplace skills, and complete postsecondary coursework or credentials. Read this story »

The Youth Leadership Initiative Is the Nest Where I Learned How to Fly

Jose Fernando Vargas Zavala participated in the Youth Leadership Initiative in 2018-19. This blog post is edited and excerpted from an award-winning essay Fernando wrote for a contest among YLI participants in spring 2019. Read this story »

The Youth Leadership Initiative Empowered Me to Believe that My Voice Matters and I Can Make a Difference

Hello everyone, I am Theng Yeng Xiong, an alumna of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation Youth Leadership initiative. The Youth Leadership Initiative is a multicultural leadership program that develops and equips young people to be leaders in the community. Read this story »

Neighborhood Leadership Program Helps Minnesota Newcomer Xiomara Bell Connect with Diverse Communities

Neighborhood Leadership Program graduate Xiomara Bell was working in mental health care in her native Louisiana when she felt called to use her degrees in history. Last year she applied for, interviewed and accepted a job at the Minnesota Historical Society without ever having visited the state. “I didn’t think anything of it until I got… Read this story »

Shannon Alum Chris Taylor Uses Values to Lead Change for a Diverse, Inclusive and Equitable Minnesota

When Chris Taylor was chief inclusion officer for the Minnesota Historical Society, his staff gave him a plaque for his desk that read, “Agitator in Chief.” For Chris, an alum of Wilder’s James P. Shannon Leadership Institute, it’s a reminder that changing systems to become more diverse, inclusive and equitable can ruffle feathers.   Read this story »