For students in WILL, the natural and cultural worlds of Greater Washington are their holistic, transformative, positive youth development classrooms. On Saturdays, school holidays, and summer breaks, youth from underserved DC neighborhoods learn and explore: day trips on the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers; a scavenger hunt on the National Mall; a seven-day backpacking journey on the Appalachian trail; a forum on college admissions; workshops on inclusion and diversity, financial literacy, resume writing and interview skills – all are designed to develop their inherent strengths, decision-making, leadership, goal-setting, and life skills. Service-learning projects teach the critical importance of giving back. Annually, some 40 students make the full, 335-hour commitment to explore and grow. The results? 100% of those who complete the program have graduated from high school or are on track to do so. That's transformation.

Headquarters: DC-Ward 1

Where They Operate: DC-Ward 1; DC-Ward 4; DC-Ward 5; DC-Ward 6; DC-Ward 7; DC-Ward 8

Age Groups Served: Pre-teen/teen (12-17)

Population(s) Served: Students

Schools They Work In: Bell Multicultural High School; Capital City Public Charter School; Cardozo High School; Eastern High School; McKinley Tech High School; E. L. Haynes Public Charter School; IDEA Public Charter School

  • Other:  
    100% of WILL graduates have graduated from high school or are on track to do so
  • Other:  
    For 9 years in a row (including 2015-2016), WILL's retention rate has been between 67% and 76%, far exceeding the 50% considered excellent for youth development programs (we have never been below 50%).
  • Other:  
    For 2015-2016, 90% of WILL youth reported that they learning something from the WILL programs in which they participated and 100% said that they benefited very much or a great deal from being in WILL.
  • Other:  
    Based on the analysis of the Pre-and Post-WILL surveys completed by 2014-2015 WILL youth, they showed: significant increases in knowledge and understanding of financial literacy, environmental awareness, nutrition, leadership, and self-empowerment, as wel

Awards & Recognition

1. Steve Abraham, WILL Founder and President, named one of five Washington, DC Scottish Rite Community Service Award recipients (Oct. 2014)

2. WILL selected for Fair Chance partnership (March 1, 2012 -Feb. 28, 2014)

3. WILL chosen for inclusion in the 2012-2013 Catalogue for Philanthropy as one of the finest community-based nonprofits in the Greater Washington region – May 2012.

4. WILL selected by BU Center for Digital Imaging Arts Spring Practicum – Website Re-Design - Spring 2012.

5. Steve presented with Award of Appreciation Job Corps Leadership Conference (Spring 2012)

6. Steve was chosen to be a member of the Leadership Greater Washington Class of 2012

7. WILL selected by BU Center for Digital Imaging Arts Spring Practicum – Produced short video - Spring 2011.

8. WILL selected as Harris’ Hero by WJLA anchor Leon Harris (aired Dec. 7, 2011)

9. Steve presented with Making the Difference Volunteer Award Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy (Parkside Campus) (May 2011)

10. Steve received Columbia Heights Education Campus Amigo of the Year(May 2008)


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Budget (FY2023)

  • $3 million or higher
  • $1 million to $3 million
  • $500k to $1 million
  • The current budget for Wilderness Leadership & Learning is: Less than $500k

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