Jes Ward is Executive Director of cityWILD, whose mission is to engage youth in experiential learning opportunities that boldly address issues of inequity in education, economic opportunity, and access to the outdoors. cityWILD motivates participants to reach their potential at school, at home and in their communities – and they succeed!
On this week’s show, Jes shares with Jon the challenges of running a successful, scrappy nonprofit. She talks about how the concept “clean money” in terms of corporate sponsorship might not exist, the systemic issues that prevent kids from the inner city from experiencing the outdoors even though the mountains aren’t but a short jaunt from the city, and the ways in which cityWILD does so much more for its kids than just provide access to experiential learning opportunities.
Additionally, Jes talks about her 13 years at PeaceJam, why social justice and activism are at the core of who she is and what she does, and shares how we can listen to those we sometimes refer to as “voiceless.” In her experience, it’s not that lower income residents of Denver are voiceless, it’s that we just don’t take the time to listen to them.
On a personal note, Jes Ward is yet another alumnus from Golden High School and someone who has had a meaningful impact on my life. Jes is incredibly thoughtful, incisive, caring, and conscientious. When you listen to this episode, I suspect you’ll be struck (as I was) by her stories of moving from city schools to the seemingly idyllic suburb of Golden, as well as her experience doing fasts for PeaceJam in high school, navigating the social hall of mirrors that is the high school experience, and what it’s like hiding a big piece of who you are.
I’m proud to bring you this episode and highlight the work of someone I deeply admire. An easy way to support her work at cityWILD is to book your next outdoor adventure through them. Whether it’s rafting, rock climbing or team building, book it through cityWILD. You can do that here. It’ll be a great time, and support a terrific program.