Wyman Receives $1 Million Gift to Support Merger with inspireSTL

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Gift to Wyman Made by David and Thelma Steward Honors Youth Advocates Bob Fox and Maxine Clark

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"We share the belief that with the right support – our youth can and will open the doors to a more open-minded, connected and even financially successful region. This gift funds important programs for our region for those who are underserved."

Wyman is honored and grateful to announce a $1 million gift from St. Louis philanthropists David and Thelma Steward via their Steward Family Foundation. The gift is made in honor of Bob Fox and Maxine Clark – fellow St. Louis leaders and philanthropists – for their dedication to young people in the St. Louis region. The gift will be dedicated to support the recent merger between Wyman and inspireSTL – two organizations dedicated to empowering teens across the region to succeed in learning, work and life.

Wyman and inspireSTL are combining the two organizations to effectively grow inspireSTL’s impact and scale, and add to Wyman’s ability to provide more rigorous academic support to teens. This donation will help ensure the growth and long-term sustainability of inspireSTL – a program designed to produce leadership talent for struggling urban communities, especially those in the St. Louis region. The gift will provide important resources needed to further the impact of the merger between inspireSTL and Wyman, which creates a strong suite of programs that serve thousands of youth at- risk with social, emotional and academic support – all with a focus on leadership development.

“Thelma and I have long believed that educational opportunity, character building, leadership development and civic engagement are critically important for young people to succeed in life, and as leaders in their community,” said David Steward, Founder and Chairman of St. Louis-based company World Wide Technology. “We are pleased to be able to support both Wyman and inspireSTL on this journey toward greater impact for youth in our region. We are even more pleased to do so in honor of Bob and Maxine – two individuals we greatly admire for their commitment to opportunity equity in St. Louis.”

In particular, Bob Fox, owner and CEO of NewSpace, Inc., and Maxine Clark, founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop, have supported inspireSTL since its inception. Fox served as the founding board chair of inspireSTL, and continued in that role until the organization’s merger with Wyman, when he was elected to that board and now serves on the Executive Committee. He and Maxine are allies, advocates, mentors and generous funders to many of the region’s most impactful and worthy nonprofit ventures.

“Bob and Maxine continue to set the example for all of us, through their philanthropy and actions, as our region continues its path toward greater equity and strength,” added Steward. “It is through organizations like Wyman and inspireSTL that we will ensure all youth have the opportunity to pursue their dreams, and ultimately become our next generation of leaders. After all, according to scripture, ‘Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required.’ Through this gift, Thelma and I wish to thank Bob and Maxine for their steadfast and unwavering support for youth in St. Louis.”

“As a region, we are grateful for the commitment of individuals and business leaders like David and Thelma Steward, and Bob Fox and Maxine Clark,” said Dave Hilliard, Wyman president and CEO. “We share the belief that with the right support – our youth can and will open the doors to a more open-minded, connected and even financially successful region. This gift funds important programs for our region – ensuring that those who are underserved and from diverse backgrounds receive both equal opportunity along with a robust support network that will shepherd them on their path toward a brighter future for themselves – and our community.”

Now serving 140 teens locally, inspireSTL provides high-potential scholars who are at-risk with rigorous academic support to help them emerge as next-generation leaders. inspireSTL places these scholars, identified as emerging young leaders, into local college prep schools. 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 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. This past May, the first cohort of inspireSTL scholars graduated from the region’s top high schools and successfully entered high-caliber, four-year universities around the country. At scale, inspireSTL will serve over 400 scholars annually.

For 117 years, Wyman has served as a trailblazer in youth development strategies by empowering teens, equipping adults and strengthening communities. Wyman’s solutions build teen leadership and perseverance, while decreasing risk factors that lead to poverty. Wyman’s solutions also foster community-level change, thanks in part to a unique focus on community service learning opportunities that reconnect teens to their communities, inspire change, and help teens hone social-emotional skills proven to bolster success.

About inspireSTL
Founded in 2011 by Teach for America corps members, inspireSTL provides high potential scholars who are currently under-served 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
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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