Our story

We’re guided by a simple truth…

Connections with others create safety and acceptance, and those connections lead to healthy relationships that, in turn, create stronger communities.

Our Mission

Our mission

We harness the healing power of dogs to break down barriers and spark powerful connections—empowering youth who either have socially isolating conditions or have experienced trauma.
Our specially designed programs provide opportunities for youth to learn social-emotional behaviors that can help them not just survive—but thrive—in school and later in life.
Healthy relationships are the foundation for a healthy community—and CIC is dedicated to giving youth the tools they need to be active participants in their community by delivering transformative moments between dogs and youth.

Our origin

Our origin

With us, it’s personal. CIC began in 2010, when then-professional dog trainer Danielle Gracyzk awakened to the role her dogs played in her recovery. She healed through the spiritual connection with her dogs and recognizing this, Danielle felt called to help others heal as well by accessing the heart-activating power of dogs. Canine Inspired Change developed organically from her dog training, practice—leading to connections with legal experts, behavioral analysts, education experts—all reinforcing the transformative nature of connection and community, inspired by the unconditional, non-judgmental love dogs provide.

Our Present

Our present

In seven years, we have:

  • Trained 167 dog therapy teams.
  • Served 10–12 schools per year.
  • Guided 875 students to a more social-emotionally rich future.
  • Partnered with 23 schools and organizations.
Our future

Our future

We unlock the potential of youth, dogs and community members, and have goals to further our own potential.

  • A brick-and-mortar facility designed for dog and human learning, growth, and fun to make our programs even more accessible to the community.
  • Expanding our programming to reach more kids in new ways.
  • Hiring an on-staff grant writer and development director to ensure our sustainability.
  • Acquiring health insurance reimbursement eligibility so we can conveniently serve more youth.

Our People

Danielle Graczky Thumbnail Danielle Graczky

Danielle started Canine Inspired Change as a way to give back to others. As a professional dog trainer, she realized the important role her dogs played in her own recovery. And she knew that same love, motivation and “dog medicine” could help others. She started making connections with legal, behavioral and educational experts—and let her dogs lead the way. She enjoys yoga, going to her cabin, and camping and canoeing with her dogs.

When Katie needed to create a conceptual nonprofit for a grad school final project, she modeled it on the organization where she and her dog Rascal volunteered. Inspired by the important, meaningful work Canine Inspired Change was doing, she helped Danielle turn the concept into a reality. Her focus is ensuring the organization’s work is aligned with its mission and vision. An outdoor enthusiast, she enjoys walking, biking, hammocking and hanging out with her husband and dog.

Alyssa met Danielle at a photoshoot and fell in love with what Canine Inspired Change does and how the organization brings people together to positively change lives. In addition to volunteering with her dog Cloey, she works as the official dog photographer, helps with public relations, outreach and raises awareness about the organization’s work. She likes to hang with her friends and family, fishing, and going on photography adventures.

Beth heard about Canine Inspired Change while taking an obedience training class with her dog Amelia, and recognized the benefit dog therapy would bring to people with traumatic brain injuries. She collects data and outcomes to support grant writing and planning efforts, and helps guide curriculum development. She enjoys co-ed softball, biking, going to Minnesota Twins games and being a Packer fan.

Holly met Danielle and was inspired by how the organization leverages the power of the human-animal connection to create more empathy in the world. Her primary function is to raise awareness by building connections in the community, hosting fundraisers, providing social media strategies and tapping into her professional network to secure public relations opportunities. She enjoys being outside with her dog and spending time with family and friends.

Marcus got involved with Canine Inspired Change along with his wife Katie, who helped co-found the organization. In addition to leading therapy sessions with his dog Rascal, Marcus helps with fundraising and extending the organization’s network of volunteers. He loves hanging out with family and friends, playing basketball, and spending time outdoors camping and canoeing.

Kate’s passion for community involvement and belief in the healing power of animal-human connections drives her work at Canine Inspired Change. Kate got her start at CIC as a therapy dog team with her yellow lab, Millie. As Program Director, she spearheads the day-to-day operations of CIC, connecting CIC therapy teams with schools and community programs and building relationships with people interested in learning how to “do good with their dog.” In her free time, Kate loves spending time with her family and exploring new places, preferably in the great outdoors.