Courageous Stories

Highlighting community stories of strength & resiliency

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 »

Wilder Donors John and Anne Bendt Use Planned Gift to Extend their Love of Family and Community

John and Anne Bendt discovered small and large things in common when they met as college students at Marquette University. They were born on the seventh day of the month. They were the second oldest, and they valued the lessons they learned growing up in large families. Read this story »

Determination and Stable Housing at Lincoln Place Helped Youth with Work, College, Car and Sobriety

Sebastian Dina knew what he wanted when he moved to Lincoln Place: His driver’s license back, to buy a car and start college. With stable housing and support from Wilder staff at Lincoln Place, a supportive housing development in Eagan for youth who have experienced homelessness, Sebastian has achieved those goals and more. Read this story »

Volunteer Team Transforms the Center for Social Healing for Southeast Asian Members

Wilder’s Center for Social Healing offers a warm, welcoming environment created through years of shared meals and smiles. Thanks to more than 100 volunteers who work at Target, the transformed therapeutic community center for members of four Southeast Asian cultural groups now looks as welcoming as it feels. Read this story »

Community Equity Program Gives Experienced Leader Linda Garrett-Johnson a Deeper Understanding of the Legislative Process

With more than 25 years of experience advocating for public policy changes, Linda Garrett-Johnson knows how to read a bill. Even with her experience, Wilder’s Community Equity Program helped Linda deepen her knowledge of the Minnesota legislative process. “The program filled in pieces that were missing, and it helped me understand where… Read this story »