The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, a nonprofit social services organization in St. Paul, Minnesota, has announced that it is scaling back programming in an effort to ensure the financial sustainability of its operations.
"Last year the [b]oard of [d]irectors established the goal that all of Wilder's operations become financially sustainable within the next three years," board chair Julie Brunner wrote in a letter on the organization's website. "Though our work to meet this goal began well before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, it forced us to accelerate our timeline for making decisions to ensure Wilder remains a force for good now and [in] perpetuity."
To that end, Wilder will shut down its Adult Day Health programming, which has been focused on improving quality of life for hundreds of older adults and adults with disabilities for more than four decades. The organization also will end its training and consulting offerings and most of its leadership development programs, including its Youth Leadership Initiative, Neighborhood Leadership Program, Latino Leadership Program, James P. Shannon Leadership Institute, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Collaborative.
The programs being cut served about five hundred people and employed 10 percent of the organization's staff, the Star Tribune reports; as part of the reorganization, fifty-two positions will be eliminated. Interim CEO Brad Hewitt told the Star Tribune that the cuts are in response to a recent run of budget deficits — this year's is projected to be about $8 million — and are aimed at lessening the organization's reliance on its endowment to fill those gaps. Last year, Wilder filled an $11.7 million deficit by dipping into its endowment, which now stands at about $118 million.
"We arrived at this course of action after many years of seeking sustainable funding models and new philanthropic partners in an effort to maintain valuable services," Brunner wrote in her letter. "That does not alter the fact that these changes represent a significant loss to our community. We acknowledge that we will be letting go of talented, passionate staff and important programs that have made a positive difference."
(Photo credit: Amherst H. Wilder Foundation)