The Wildwood Institute for Social Leadership (WISL) is a collaborative consultancy that defines and addresses social issues in the local community. Students conduct community investigations and field research, resulting in both deep understanding of the issues and the opportunity to create enactable, concrete plans for positive change. Now in its fourth year, WISL has a full slate of clients and projects at various stages of development, with student project managers guiding the process under the mentorship of the Institute’s director, Liza Bearman, Ed.D.
Many WISL projects focus on the well-being of children and young adults, including:
GirlWell: A non-profit organization started by WISL member Kayli Joy C. ‘22 to serve under-sheltered teenage girls by providing them with self-care kits that promote self-love.
Bookworm Global, Braddock Drive Elementary School, and Wildwood 10th Grade Community Involvement: Currently, Wildwood’s 10th grade Community Involvement (CI) program has students reading stories to support Braddock students’ literacy. WISL is building on Wildwood’s partnership with Braddock by developing and piloting an early educational literacy program via Zoom. This new collaboration consists of sorting donated books received from Bookworm Global, a Los Angeles-based non-profit which provides books to children in underserved communities, and then pairing up with Braddock’s early education teachers and classrooms. WISL members read 2-3 books per week to each class via Zoom while engaging young students in a physical activity to help keep them focused and engaged. In the fall, WISL wrapped and gave a Bookworm Global-donated book to each Braddock student, along with an individualized card to motivate and encourage them to keep reading. Based on the success of this pilot, this model will now be adapted for the 10th grade CI program in spring 2022.
Into the Wild: Into the Wild, a capstone project for Wildwood 8th graders, tasks students with creating an awareness campaign or invention to address issues in society. Using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a framework, this project aligns with WISL’s mission of local impact.
SAM Initiative: WISL took part as voting members in the organization’s grant making process, a process which they had only observed in previous years. Alongside the SAM Initiative members, WISL members were asked to analyze the grant submission letters of intent, ask questions after each pitch, then participate in ranking the projects. WISL then attended the finalist pitches in December to vote on the final grantees.
New Village Girls Academy: In collaboration with the Academy (a Title I high school for at-risk girls), students work with non-native English speakers to help them learn conversational English during weekly Zoom meetings.
Looking ahead, WISL students have explored and built relationships with local homelessness and animal welfare organizations to expand their work in the 2021-2022 school year and beyond.
- fall 2021