Courageous Stories

Highlighting community stories of courage, strength and resiliency


Julie Smith's daughter celebrates 16th birthday with backpack drive for Wilder participants

During summer 2021, Julie Smith and her three children, ages 16, 13 and 9, brainstormed ways they could make a meaningful contribution to the community at a time when hands-on, face-to-face interactions were limited. They landed on a school-supply drive to support Wilder's School Success supply drive, which provides about 2,000 backpacks… Read this story »

Then and now, Wilder school-based mental health services helped Sean grow and succeed

Sean was an elementary school student when he joined Kofi, Wilder's culturally relevant school-based mental health program for students of African descent. He received services to help him regulate his emotions and cope with other challenges. He graduated from Kofi in a ceremony at the end of fifth grade, and kept the Kofi sweatshirt he… Read this story »

Mental health support in school continues for students in Saint Paul

An estimated 1 in 5 young people need support for their mental health, and people of color are much less likely to have access to therapy and mental health care. That's why our school-based mental health team meets students right where they are, with culturally relevant therapy, support and resources for them and their families. Read this story »

Meals on Wheels helps Wilder volunteer Tracey Cross stay involved during the pandemic

For many, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant stepping back to stay safe. For Tracey Cross, Wilder’s Meals on Wheels program provided the perfect opportunity to step out—and step up. "It gave me purpose,” Tracey says, calling volunteering “a reason to get outside and do something for others.” Read this story »

Priscilla Villa-Watt Used the Community Equity Program to Enhance her Public Policy Skills While Building a Community

After working to strengthen environmental protections in Texas, Priscilla Villa-Watt moved to Minnesota in 2019 to become the advocacy and public policy manager for Eureka Recycling, a nonprofit zero waste organization and social enterprise recycler. Priscilla had relevant work experience as an organizer, a master’s degree in… Read this story »

Saint Paul Public Library Uses Evaluation to Expand Community Services

Saint Paul Public Library’s Community Services program connects the library and Karen, Latinx, and Somali communities in Saint Paul through culturally responsive and informed programs, resources, and services. After years of building the program, library staff knew they had a strong foundation on which to build and wanted to tie the… Read this story »

Learning How Student Safety Coaches Create Safe and Productive Schools

Like many school districts across the nation and Minnesota, Intermediate School District 287 (ISD 287) had contracted with police departments to have police officers (called “School Resource Officers”) in school buildings. However, ISD 287 ended those contracts and in 2017-2018 and began using district employees titled “Student Safety… Read this story »

High school student Aine puts new driver’s license to work volunteering for Meals on Wheels

Aine, a high school senior in Saint Paul, knew she wanted to start volunteering as soon as she got her got her driver’s license at age 17 1/2. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Aine put her newly minted license to work delivering Meals on Wheels at Wilder. Read this story »