- Gold Sponsor - Aaron Straus & Lillie Straus Foundation - Gold Sponsor - Three Crowns LLP - Bronze Sponsor - Ellen & Adam Spiegel - Bronze Sponsor - Kim & John Snedden - Silver Sponsor - ClearVision Optical - Bronze Sponsor - Susan & Rich DiMaio - Silver Sponsor - Exterior Medics - Bronze Sponsor - Cigna - Silver Sponsor - Kristen & Steve Best - Bronze Sponsor - Amanda & Evan Farber - Silver Sponsor - Chase Builders - Bronze Sponsor - Brown Advisory - Bronze Sponsor - Kaiser Permanente

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WILL provides the springboard for youth be more effective and successful in their lives.

PLEASE GIVE GENEROUSLY - Your donation is an investment in the future of WILL Youth that will provide positive returns for decades

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$60,000 Goal


Total Raised

Wilderness Leadership & Learning (WILL) is a transformative, holistic 12-month experiential learning, youth leadership, and life skills development program for District of Columbia youth from underserved/under-resourced neighborhoods.

WILL's mission is to provide diverse growth experiences and challenging learning opportunities to inspire and assist youth to make good decisions, become effective leaders, and achieve their goals.

One of our goals is to launch WILL youth into a future that they could not imagine before they participated in the program, and to compliment traditional classroom education with high-quality, diverse experiential learning opportunities to develop inherent strengths, decision-making and leadership and life skills for students to learn and be effective and successful.

WILL's greatest strength is the four pillars that support and provide structure for the more than 330 hours of positive youth development programming of the WILL curriculum/experience: Leadership & Self-Empowerment; Critical Life Skills Development; Environmental Awareness & Stewardship; and Cultural Awareness & Appreciation.

A few recent significant WILL Outcomes and Accomplishments include:

  • 100% of WILL graduates have graduated from high school or are on track to do so.
  • For 13 years in a row, WILL's retention rate has been between 67% and 79%, far exceeding the 50% considered excellent for youth development programs (never below 50%).
  • For 2018-2019 (pre-pandemic WILL graduating class), 86% of WILL youth reported that they learned something beneficial that they will use in their lives from the WILL programs in which they participated, and 94% said that they benefited a great deal from being in WILL.
  • Based on Pre-and Post-WILL 3rd party survey analysis, 2018-2019 WILL youth showed: significant increases in knowledge  of nutrition, SMART goals and how to set them, environmental awareness, financial literacy, leadership, and self-empowerment. WILL Youth also demonstrated improved perceptions about themselves as a result of their WILL experience.
  • WILL has been in the Catalogue for Philanthropy since 2012 as one of the best community-based nonprofits in the Greater Washington region (WILL was in the 2017-2018 print Catalogue).

The WILL Power Party is our signature fundraising event of the year.

Due to the pandemic, this year the WILL Power Party is virtual. We will celebrate 17 YEARS of WILL positively impacting the lives of the underserved DC youth and we WILL provide you an opportunity to invest in the future of DC youth

The 8th WILL Power Party will :

  • Bring WILL friends together to celebrate our successes
  • Continue to raise awareness about WILL
  • Introduce WILL to new friends
  • Raise funds so we can increase the number of youth we impact
  • Honor our Partner of the Year: Three Crowns LLP


WILL's Pandemic Response:

Due to COVID-19, in March 2020, WILL suspended our normal experiential learning programs. When this happened, we had done approximately one-third of our positive youth development programming for the WILL Year. 

Although we cannot provide our programming in person, to continue to engage WILL Youth, we pivoted our approach.  We are doing Zoom meetings with WILL youth every two to three weeks on Saturdays for 2 to 2.5 hours that align with WILL's pillars.  The topics covered and to be covered are: Systemic Racism, Equity v. Equality, Financial Literacy, SMART Goals, Resume Writing, Interview Skills, 1st Aid, Biases, DEI, and Social Justice, Nutrition, and a College Admissions Forum. 

At the beginning of each session, after check-ins, shout-outs, and celebrating recent birthdays, and before we delve into the main subject for the meeting (noted above), we have discussions on topics that have included: WILL's Standing Together Statement, John Lewis, Hispanic Heritage Month and Delores Huerta, RBG, What are you thankful for, Indigenous American Heritage Month (several indigenous proverbs and what WILL youth think of the former name and logo of the Washington Football team), Leave No Trace Ethics, the insurrection at The Capitol, Amanda Gorman's poem The Hill We Climb, and Black Heritage Month.

Some of the words WILL youth have used to describe the Zoom meetings and the information discussed, include: beneficial, compelling, constructive, cool, educational, empowering, encouraging, engaging, enlightening, equity, fascinating, fun, helpful, hopeful, informational, important, interesting, inspiring, motivating, peaceful, powerful, rejuvenating, stimulating, togetherness, unity, uplifting, and useful.

We have frequent outreach to/with WILL youth and families to reinforce that they matter and we care.  To provide some support, in the late spring of 2020, WILL gave each WILL family a $100 VISA card, and, during the Holidays, to provide some additional assistance and holiday cheer, we gave WILL families $175 VISA cards.

When conditions allow us to restart normal WILL activities, we look forward to completing the program Year with the 16th WILL Class and our journey together.


Wilderness Leadership & Learning Inc

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