Wyman and inspireSTL Begin Collaboration to Grow Reach and Potential; Transition Enables Both Organizations to Help More Teens Thrive, Not Just Survive

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Wyman Center and inspireSTL signed a formal collaboration agreement on June 15 to combine the two organizations. The agreement will culminate in a permanent merger in early 2016.

Wyman Center and inspireSTL signed a formal collaboration agreement on June 15 to combine the two organizations.

inspireSTL Founder and Executive Director, Charli Cooksey, and Wyman President and CEO, Dave Hilliard

“As two organizations deeply committed to youth, community and collaboration, we believe that with the right support, our youth can – and will – transform their communities,” said David A. Hilliard, Wyman

Wyman Center and inspireSTL signed a formal collaboration agreement on June 15 to combine the two organizations. The agreement will culminate in a permanent merger in early 2016.

Wyman and inspireSTL began discussing a potential partnership in 2014, given inspireSTL’s desire to grow impact and scale, and Wyman’s desire to bolster its programs with additional academic support.
inspireSTL will become a program housed under the main Wyman umbrella, and will serve as a sister program to Wyman's locally based Teen Leadership Program (TLP) and nationally recognized Teen Outreach Program (TOP).

“As two organizations deeply committed to youth, community and collaboration, we believe that with the right support, our youth can – and will – become the next generation of leaders capable of transforming their communities,” said David A. Hilliard, Wyman president and CEO. “This partnership will help us make that vision a reality by delivering greater resources to support local teens, and giving us the potential to deploy additional groundbreaking youth development strategies nationwide.”

"The opportunity to unify our organizations is an exciting prospect for our youth and our region,” said Charli Cooksey, executive director, inspireSTL. “It is an honor to increase our impact and commitment to pursue outcomes that will be far better than each organization could have achieved independently. I’m thrilled that inspireSTL will join an organization equally committed to social justice and empowering young people."

inspireSTL supports approximately 140 high potential, underserved scholars, who benefit from the organization’s preparation and matching support. inspireSTL places these scholars, identified as emerging young leaders who have the potential to transform the region, into local college prep schools, including Metro, Collegiate, Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School (MICDS), Saint Louis University High School (SLUH), Whitfield, Villa Duchesne and McKinley. Support begins the summer after 7th grade, and lasts through college, and includes securing financial aid, tutoring, coaching, ACT prep, and when necessary, providing financial resources to close the gap for books, uniforms and fees. inspireSTL also provides leadership development, support and training to scholars, so that they may serve as progressive change agents in their high schools, colleges and communities.

Wyman serves as a trailblazer in evidence-based youth development strategies. Wyman transforms teens and communities by empowering teens, training adults and strengthening communities. Wyman's programs build teen leadership and perseverance, while decreasing risk factors like teen pregnancy and dropout rates by more than 50 percent. In the last five years, Wyman has improved the lives of more than 125,000 teens.

The integration allows inspireSTL to leverage Wyman's existing systems and processes needed for organizational growth, rather than using vital resources to build administrative capacity. After a year-long study of best practices, both organizations will explore opportunities to grow inspireSTL throughout the region, and integrate additional academic preparation into Wyman’s existing efforts.

About inspireSTL
Founded in 2011 by Teach for America corps members, inspireSTL provides high potential scholars who are currently underserved with placement and rigorous academic support into some of the region’s best high schools, with the vision that they will emerge as the city’s next generation of leaders.

About Wyman Center
Wyman, a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit and proud member of the United Way, partners with communities to provide teens with the support and opportunities they need to thrive in life. Originally founded in 1898, Wyman’s mission is to enable teens from economically disadvantaged circumstances to lead successful lives and build strong communities.

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Kristin Gumper
Wyman Center
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