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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Wisconsin Leadership Seminars Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Philanthropy, Voluntarism Promotion, Youth Development - Citizenship, Youth Development Programs

Mission: WILS identifies outstanding high school sophomores throughout Wisconsin for being responsible citizens in their community and/or school and provide them with the opportunity and encouragement to recognize their leadership potential.

Results: WILS fulfills our mission through an annual 3-day leadership seminar encouraging leadership development through emphasis on personal responsibility, volunteerism, increased awareness of social issues, and open-minded analysis of all sides of an issue when making decisions. The seminar is held at the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater in Whitewater, WI and is offered at no charge to the schools or students. Our volunteers and alumni work tirelessly during the year to raise all funds needed to host seminar. Our mission is carried on throughout the year and into future seminars through our Alumni Association. The alumni hold reunions and perform community service several times between each seminar in order to maintain the WILS spirit, continue friendships and give back to the community. WILS volunteers over 1,000 hours in our communities each year! WILS has served nearly 200 high school sophomores per year for over thirty-nine years. Since inception, WILS has fund raised and fully funded each seminar through 100% volunteer donations of money, time and gifts in kind. Student leaders served return year after year to give back to the organization.

Target demographics: Along with high school guidance counselors and club leaders, we work to identify outstanding high school sophomores who are responsible citizens in their community and/or school and provide them with the opportunity and encouragement to recognize their leadership potential.

Direct beneficiaries per year: Since 1978, WILS has impacted over 200 students per year from all over Wisconsin and upper Michigan.

Geographic areas served: The entire state of Wisconsin

Programs: An annual 3-day leadership seminar encouraging leadership development through emphasis on personal responsibility, volunteerism, increased awareness of social issues, and open-minded analysis of all sides of an issue when making decisions. The seminar is held at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in Whitewater, WI and is offered at no charge to the students or their schools. All seminar speakers and staff are unpaid volunteers. Visit our official website to see what we are currently doing!

Community Stories

64 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

James D

Board Member

Rating: 5

I've been a part of WILS since my seminar year in 2000 and it has remained an integral part of my life since. WILS fostered my personal growth as a young adult, shaped me as a leader and inspired confidence to be my true, unique self. Returning as staff throughout the years and witnessing this incredible organization do the same for countless other individuals has enriched my life in ways I can't begin to describe. The friendships I've made throughout the years are sacred to me and I'm proud to consider myself a lifelong member of the WILS family.

1 Shane16

Board Member

Rating: 5

WILS has been a huge part of my life. I started as a student leader almost 7 years ago. I volunteered my time and grew through WILS over the past 7 years and I am now serving my second term on the Board. I could not be happier with the people I work with and the lives we change.

Previous Stories
1

Board Member

Rating: 5

WILS has changed my life, and continues to change my life for the better. To put it simply, a three day seminar from over five years ago has shaped where I chose to attend college, helped me decide where to look into schooling after college, and has connected me to many potential future employees. Aside from the professional benefits I receive, I have been able to find volunteer opportunities multiple times per year in many areas of Wisconsin working with many diverse populations. I am grateful every day for what WILS has given me and how this organization continues to better me.

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General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As a parent of a former WILSer, staffer, scholarship recipient, and board member, I can't say enough about how the organization really let my daughter shine and develop her confidence. She is a fine young lady, and you are part of the reason!

1 Steph S.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with WILS since 1999. I owe everything I am to this organization. My uniquness is celebrated with enthusiasm and love. I have been able to pay that energy forward to the new student leaders every year as a facilitator. The student leaders challenge us to be the best leaders we can be. In an age of screens and swiping right, WILS gives these young adults a fresh, fun, face to face weekend of thought provoking panels and activities to celebrate their leadership potential and to give it a safe space to grow.

1 pachiayang

Client Served

Rating: 5

WILS has done so much for me. Beyond my year at seminar, WILS has connected me to so many great mentors and inspiring individuals. WILS is a home for everyone to grow and never judges. WILS is truly a family!

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

I attended WILS Summer of 2014 and it was honestly one of the most life changing experiences I've ever had. I have never attended a seminar where EVERYONE was as friendly and welcoming as at this seminar. I returned for the first time to volunteer Summer of 2017 and that was one of the best volunteer experiences I've had. I felt like part of a large family and learned so much from all the other volunteers. WILS is such an amazing organization and nothing I can say about it will be truly as amazing as experiencing it firsthand.

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

I attended seminar in 2018 and it was an absolutely incredible weekend. Since then, I have attended reunions, been on the alumni association board, and have done multiple volunteer events with WILS. The people I have met through WILS are absolutely amazing and everyone is so supportive. WILS is a huge part of my life now and I am forever thankful for the opportunity to be a part of it.

Georgia Z.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WILS is honestly one of the most incredible organizations I have had the honor to be associated with. Everybody involved is absolutely amazing, and strives to create a yearly seminar that fosters an environment of growth, leadership, and kindness. If it weren't for WILS, I would have developed into a very different person, and I credit the people and experiences I have had for helping me to pursue my goals and dreams. I hope to continue helping to make this experience as wonderful for others as it has been for me!

Megan K.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

WILS has been a life-changing experience for me! I went in not knowing what I was getting into, but it was an experience that I would never trade for anything! I made so many lifelong friends and so many memories! I can't wait to continue my journey with my WILS family! ❤

Carmen L.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

WILS was an experience I will never forget! I met so many new people and made a LOT of friends. All staff and student leaders were friendly and helpful. Because of WILS, I have more opportunities to meet others and volunteer.

Beth H.3

Board Member

Rating: 5

It has been a pleasure to be a part of Wisconsin Leadership Seminars, Inc. since 2002. This organization is amazing and I have matured and grown as a leader. The programming is amazing and I have developed lifelong friendships with the wonderful members of this organization.

Ben V.1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I attended WILS in 2017 and it changed my life for the better! I learned so many valuable leadership skills and made lifelong friendships. I am very thankful that I was chosen to be a part of such an amazing organization.

Julia G.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I attended WILS in 2014 and it was an experience of a lifetime. I didn't attend reunions for a while and was worried that it would be hard to jump back into the group, but I was welcomed with open arms. Everyone that I have met in this organization is caring, motivated, and incredible. I volunteered at the 2017 seminar and will be returning at seminar 2018 as a Junior Staff. I have also attended 5 reunions. WILS has shaped me into who I am and introduced me to people that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Josh K.1

Board Member

Rating: 5

It’s been 17 years since my first WILS experience, and it still remains as one of the most formative and impactful times in my life. The development opportunities WILS presented me with then and ever since have allowed me to grow personally and professionally, all while forming personal bonds with many amazing friends. That is why i continue to be a part of making this experience possible for hundreds of student leaders each year, and it is truly a treat to see just how good our future looks when observing them!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I attended WILS in 2017 and absolutely loved it! The experiences that I had have changed my life forever, I met so many new friends, and learned so much-not only about myself but about others as well. This organization is so amazing and continues to change lives one seminar at a time.

Christal R.

Client Served

Rating: 5

An outstanding program for the youth of Wisconsin! It guided me towards strength and leadership when I was young. I had the opportunity to give back years later as a group facilitator a few times. A rewarding experience to be around so many positive vibes.
I definitely hope to get back into WILS in the near future, but I always know there is a WILS alumni somewhere out in the world, making it a better place.

Rachel H.2

Board Member

Rating: 5

WILS is an amazing organization and has changed my life for the better. I am so blessed to be on the alumni association board and am grateful for the lifelong friendships I have made.

mwell_12

Board Member

Rating: 5

A truly dynamic organization which continues to inspire and motivates so many young leaders! Not only does the organization sponsor such a spectacular seminar for 200+ deserving Wisconsin students, but also continues to foster and develop leadership skills for the many students who choose to stay involved. I am extremely blessed and honored to have been able to be involved with this organization.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

WILS has impacted my life in so many ways. It has helped me find my true self, believe in myself, and most importantly, believe in others and the impact we can all have. WILS events do not last long, but if I ever need a reminder of the things I have learned through this oragnization, I can simply turn to the many life long friends I have made during my time as a student leader and as a alumni!

2 RipplesGuy

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

In my twenty years of experience working in leadership development, I've been lucky enough to encounter many remarkable organizations committed to the important work of helping today's youth identify and nurture their leadership capacity. WILS stands out as one of the most transformative and most comprehensive (not to mention fun, fun, FUN!) leadership development experiences I have ever had the opportunity to be a part of. I am proud to remain connected to several people who credit WILS with helping them recognize and enhance their leadership skills. I'll never forget the several years I spent helping them kick off the weekend, and I continue to support their work with donations.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I will never forget my time at WILS. As a participant, I not only got to volunteer and help others, but met some amazing people as well. WILS has been one of the most impactful experiences of my life. I hope that more people consider volunteering with the program in the future!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I attended WILS in 2013 and have since been involved. I attend reunions, volunteer at numerous events, and am now serving on the Alumni Association Board. This organization has given me more than I could possible explain. Friends for life, confidence, a sense of belonging, and powerful leadership skills to name a few. This has exceeded my life beyond belief. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to attend this seminar because it is truly life changing. WILS is not something that you leave from. Once you are involved, the things that are taught will stay with you for life.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I met many incredible people through WILS. WILS leadership program gave me the skills and inspiration to make the world a better place. Who I am and what I do to improve myself and my community today is a direct result of the positively impactful time I was privileged to spend at the WILS Seminar. WILS is very empowering and uplifting of students across the state of Wisconsin. Collectively, WILS has had a far reach and incredible impact in the great state of Wisconsin and the people in it. I never forget the time I spent at Seminar, as I am always trying to pay it forward daily in pursuit of making my community a better place, in addition to actualizing those dreams of mine WILS empowered me to believe I could achieve, which is a big first experience to have as a high schooler.

My wish is for everyone to receieve the gift of WILS Seminar.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WILS was an amazing opportunity that wound up being a life changing experience. Going in, I thought it was just going to be something kind of fun that my brother had over-hyped, but upon arriving I felt right at home. Since attending, I have done my best to be at every reunion and opportunity to reunite with my WILS family. WILS has definitely changed my life, and if you have the opportunity to go, I would 100% say go!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Although seminar lasts only a few short days, the impact on my life has been ongoing! WILS completely changed me as a person and enabled me to "find" myself and grow in ways I didn't think I could. Having the ability to meet amazing people from across state and share things about yourself that you wouldn't share with anyone else is a unique experience that WILS offers! Wouldn't have passed up this oppurtunity for the world. :)

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

WILS was an amazing networking opportunity and changed my life in a matter of 3 days. I can't thank this program enough for introducing me to some of my most cherished friends and a greater sense for leadership. @Australia: Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Wisconsin leadership seminar is the most supportive, dynamic, and life changing group of people I have ever met. They help shape young adults into strong leaders and help them reach their potential. WILS was the best experience of my life and I hope anyone who has the chance to experience WILS makes the best decision of their life and chooses to attend.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've never met a more supportive or caring group of people. This organization cares for everyone no matter who they are. They help anyone or any cause! I love how the community members support one another and supported me when I needed some support! The organization truly cares about the lives and the betterment of the community and society as a whole! Words cannot express just how amazing this group of people is and the impact they have had on my and on other!

Jessica335

Client Served

Rating: 5

I went to WILS in 2010 and have returned for reunions whenever possible. WILS helped me see my potential for leadership roles, which boosted my confidence and motivated me to become a student representative on my school board, high school valedictorian, hold several positions within my sorority during college, and continue to pursue my goals of obtaining my PhD and running my own lab. I think that the lessons I learned and the friendships I made at WILS are unlike any other. Everyone at WILS comes from a different place and has had different experiences, but we all share the fact that we have been recognized by our schools as having leadership potential. WILS changed my life and I don't think I would be who I am today or have had the same amount of success if it wasn't for this organization teaching me the skills I needed and providing me with a support network and lifelong friends.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

In 2005, I was lucky enough to attend this amazing seminar. Watching the organization grow and change over the last 12 years has been an amazing journey. I can go on and on about the benefits of the seminar - the leadership and life skills you gain, the friendships you make, but what speaks loudest is to meet one of our alumni. We are in all fields of work, making a (big and small) difference in our communities, in ways we likely would not have had we not been given a chance to attend the seminar. I meet many people who are worried about the future, but I'm not - after meeting these teens year after year (and being friends with many more alumni through the years), I have no qualms about where our world is headed. This organization gave me some of my best friends, helped me get great jobs, and made me the person I am today. That's why I'm not just a board member - I'm also a volunteer, and a donor.

1 Samantha95

Client Served

Rating: 5

I attended WILS this past summer and it was one of the best things that has happened to me! I met so many new friends. WILS taught me so many new things about being a leader and made me more confident. WILS is such a great organization that I am so happy to be apart of!

Lauren119

Client Served

Rating: 5

Going into WILS my sophomore year of high school, I had no idea what to expect. I half expected a weekend full of hokey workshops, boring speakers, and awkward activities designed to teach you how to be a leader. Instead, I found inspiration, passion, self-confidence, and a second family. At WILS, you are not taught "rules on being a good leader". Instead, you are taught how to use your own personal strengths and weaknesses in order to lead not only peers, but lead your own life. The skills that I took away from WILS, and the people I have met through WILS, have impacted my entire life. My college roommate that I have had for the past 3 years, and will have for my final year of undergrad, is actually girl I met at WILS! I am now in my junior year of college pursuing a Biology-biomedical sciences concentration and Spanish double major. I am currently studying for the MCAT and preparing to apply to medical schools this summer to pursue a career in Obstetrics or Neonatology. I am certain I wouldn't be where I am now without WILS.

Client Served

Rating: 5

WILS is an experience like no other. The seminar takes individuals that already exhibit leadership characteristics and exemplifies those traits by surrounding the participants in an environment that encourages individuality and diversity.

My perspective of what a leader looks like changed that week, and that shift was definitely for the better!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WILS honestly changed my life. It was an incredible organization that genuinely wanted to help me become the absolute best person I could be. They instilled a confidence in me that no one else could, and for that I'll always be grateful. It's why I keep coming back - because I think other kids deserve to have that same experience.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WILS is the highlight of my life. It gave me the confidence to discover my passions of leading and volunteering. The environment created at WILS alows me to thrive in a way I never thought possible. Definitely the best thing to ever happen to me.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Easily the most influential group I am a part of. Everyone is willing to help each other, everyone is accepting, and there are great people that serve as the backbone of keeping this organization great and thriving. Honestly blessed!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WILS helped me find out how good of a leader I could actually be and is full of great people!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WILS is an organization that has introduced me to inspirational adults as well as students my age that not only teach me about becoming a better leader, but also how to be more myself. I'm forever grateful for the opportunity to be connected with people as amazing as everyone in WILS.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WILS is an organization that is constantly changing my life and the way I view it. From meeting amazing adult role models, to peers your age to connect with- it's an amazing organization that brings people together to volunteer, make better leaders, and direct new generations on a path to success.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been part of WILS since 2008. I currently work at a university in the state of Wisconsin and can honestly say that WILS lead me to where I am today. It showed me what it takes to be a good leader, how to be myself, the importance and need for volunteering in our community, and allowed me to make numerous friendships.

Cassie12

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with this organization for over ten years. As an educator, I come across programs for everything under the sun. This organization, WILS, is one of the finer ones. I put my time and energy into WILS because of this. The programming and thoughtfulness of the staff is amazing. Each year, the staff reads and evaluates the student and volunteer feedback. Programming changes are made each year so that the seminar is alway top-notch. The large alumni base and return of volunteers year after year prove how wonderful this organization is. Thank you for continuing to serve our youth and make the world a better place!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been apart of WILS for five years now, from being an ambassador, to a junior staff member to now a facilitator. WILS has given me the tools to become a better leader, student and community member. I have made great friendships along the way that are sure to be lifelong. I will always be greatful for the one weekend when I was 16, it changed my life.

Devon6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been involved with Wisconsin Leadership Seminars for years. I have never met such amazing people! Everyday I am thankful to have the people of WILS in my life.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Wonderful organization. They are great people who help others become better too.

Michael378

Volunteer

Rating: 5

From a parent perspective, there is no other organization that combines the power and energy of youth from across the state into one amazing group of future leaders. I have been volunteering and contributing for 10 years and each year I leave the summer seminar filled with hope for the future from a great conglomeration of high school sophomores. Many have gone on to do great things with their careers as I hear stories and meet the alumni each year. More power to WILS.

Mike Skupien, parent of board member and original WILSer in 2005.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization, honestly, changed my life. I attended WILS in the summer of 2014. Going into it, I was quiet shy and did not view myself as a strong leader. After, I was a new person. I learned not to be scarred (scurred) by what others think of me and not to limit myself by creating a box to hide inside. I also learned what type of leader and how to adjust how I work with others to lead a productive group. I now play a more productive role in groups in school and work, and attribute my confidence to that fun weekend with the greatest people in the world. Thank you WILS for not only giving me an opportunity to grow as a person and make new connections, but for giving me an outlet to help others do the same.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a part of WILS since 2005. I have been a student leader, junior staff and facilitator. I have been a part of a handful of student leadership organizations, but nothing compares to WILS. This seminar is run completely by volunteers and students do not have to pay anything to take part in the event. There is one student chosen from each HS in Wisconsin, so most students don't know anyone when they arrive. This experience is something I look forward to each and every year. I have learned so much about myself, gained so many useful life skills and have made life long friends. If I hadn't attended WILS all those years ago and continued to stay involved I can honestly say that I would not be the person that I am today.

Star S.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I attended WILS as a student leader in 2006. It was absolutely eye opening. From 2007-2010 I returned as a Junior Staff member and since 2011 I have returned as an adult staff member, even joining the Board of Directors in 2014. WILS makes it possible for many students to not only learn more about themselves and what kind of leader they are; they are also exposed to different mindsets and opinions of peers their age from all across the state of Wisconsin- all free of cost! This is truly an outstanding organization.

Donor

Rating: 5

I've been involved with dozens of high school and college leadership development events and organizations, and there are so many organizations doing great things for emerging leaders. I have committed a significant amount of TIME and ENERGY and MONEY over the last 15 years to WLS because they are exceptionally well-run, efficiently managed, and have an absolutely outstanding reputation. I have remained connected to HUNDREDS of alumni and they continue to credit WLS with exponentially increasing their leadership capacity. I no longer live close enough to speak at the annual seminar, but I still have money and love to give to them.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with this organization for over 12 years in several different roles from camper, junior staff, facilitator, and speaker/presenter. The opportunities available to those who attend are second to none; both in terms of networking and personal growth. This organization has had a huge impact on the person I am today.

1 Murphy D.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Wisconsin Leadership Seminars has given me the tools to carve a path much different than I anticipated. After attending in 2009, I gained the confidence and social support to unleash my leadership potentially. As I am entering my my seventh year with this organization, I have had the chance to further my own leadership development by taking on roles in the Alumni Association, the Board of Directors, and as seminar staff. These roles in turn have allowed me to support other Wisconsin high school students as they undergo the seminar experience and really begin to critically think about the issues in our communities and understand that they have the power and voice to make waves.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WILS is truly an outstanding organization that positively impacts of not only the students it serves, but also the volunteers who run the organization. I am blessed to be a part of this wonderful group and will continue to live out WILS mission in all that I do.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WILS has been a part of my life for almost 20 years and it has been amazing to see how this organization has shaped leaders from all over Wisconsin. I'm lucky enough to participate each year at the seminar and help develop new generations of leaders. I can't imagine my life without WILS. I am proud to part of this organization!

Board Member

Rating: 5

A wonderful organization and group of people I am blessed and honored to work with. 100% volunteer, no paid staff, and all students attend for free.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've seen first hand how WILS can change lives. This is a 100% volunteer organization and everyone is very dedicated to helping students find their leadership capability.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I know it may sound cliche, but WILS has changed my life in countless ways. I attended the 2014 seminar, and I have only grown as a person since. It taught me how to be a leader of my peers, myself, and simply everyone around me. WILS also gave me connections with people that I will have and cherish forever. This is a one of a kind organization that always has ways to say involved and keep in touch.

1 Veronica31

Former staff

Rating: 5

I attended WILS for the first time in 2013 and it has truly changed my life for the better. I've continued to return as staff ever since in order to help others benefit from the amazing experience like I did.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Being apart of WILS for the past few years, I have seen first-hand the number of lives the dedicated group of volunteers has impacted. WILS has been a crucial part of my development as a student, leader and member of society. Every year, I anxiously wait to go back to seminar and meet the new group of WILSers.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

When I was chosen to attend a leadership seminar in 2008, little did I know it would change my life forever. Wisconsin Leadership Seminars, Inc encourages young adults to take ownership of their ideas and opinions while offering them space to be themselves. It is a totally unique experience. I loved my seminar experience so much that I have come back every year as a volunteer to give high school sophomores the same experiences I had. I have made life-long friends and found a cause that I am passionate about to give my time and talents too! I'm so grateful to everyone in Wisconsin Leadership Seminars who set the path before me and to everyone who will come after.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WILS is the highlight of my year. This program is dedicated to shaping the leaders of tomorrow. The environment created at WILS gives students the ability to deepen their skills and understanding in diversity, leadership, community service, and open-mindedness.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

WILS is an all-volunteer, state-wide organization dedicated to providing leadership opportunities to high school sophomores and beyond. Through the annual seminar and follow-on alumni activities, it provides on-going leadership skill-building and support. Students that attend the program often return to their communities and run for school offices, organize volunteer events, and spearhead local initiatives.

Having attended WILS in the 1990's, the highest endorsement I can provide is that I hope my pre-teen daughter will be lucky enough to attend the program in a few years. It will change her life, as WILS does for all others who have participated.

Please consider donating to this worthy cause and helping high school students reach their full leadership potential.

- Angela Wellsmith

Review from Guidestar