Join Wyman at the 2015 Saigh Symposium: The Path to Powerful Partnerships

For our young people and our community, our region has been tasked to ignite greater outcomes for teens.

The call has come from many sources – For the Sake of All, the Ferguson Commission, and the emerging Ready by 21 Youth Master Plan, in addition to the nation-at-large.

But how do we, as a region, tackle big challenges and meet big expectations – for our young people, and our future?

That’s the challenge ahead of us, and it’s up to all of us to ready ourselves to meet that call.

Join Wyman and community and partner leaders as we convene around our shared challenges, and best practices that we can all use to improve performance, and achieve our goals collectively.

2015 Saigh Symposium
The Path to Powerful Partnerships

How Do We Prepare to Tackle Big Challenges and Meet Big Expectations?
Accelerating Teen and Community Outcomes through Community Partnerships

October 27, 2015
Location: Nine Network of Public Media, Studio A
3:30 – 5 p.m.

Why St. Louis Needs Better Performing Partnerships

A Global Perspective: How We Can Build Partnerships that Perform
Christina Holt, World Health Organization, Collaborating Centre for Community Health & Development

How We Can Build More Promising Partnerships, New Youth Development Research and Outcomes
Pennie Foster-Fishman, Ph.D., Michigan State University

Symposium Panelists:

  • Vanessa Foster Cooksey, Senior Vice President, Community Affairs, Wells Fargo Advisors
  • Kendra Copanas, Executive Director, Maternal & Child Health Coalition
  • Alan Byrd, Dean of Enrollment Services, University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Co-Chair of St. Louis Graduates
  • Kathy Osborn, Executive Director, Regional Business Council

Please join us in the Public Media Commons immediately following the Symposium  for networking and light hors d’oeuvres

Register at:

About the Saigh Symposium:
Presented by Wyman in partnership with The Saigh Foundation, Wyman’s annual Saigh Symposium fosters education and conversation on topics relevant to moving the field of youth development forward on behalf of teens in our community, region and across the country. The Saigh Symposium is part of the American Graduate Youth Impact Series, which seeks to help the St. Louis community support young people on their path toward high school graduation and future success.

Wyman News: Million Dollar Round Table Foundation Awards Wyman with $2,000 Grant

TLP Grad (107)

The Million Dollar Round Table Foundation (MDRT) awarded a $2,000 grant to support Wyman’s mission to transform teens and change communities.

Through its global grants, the MDRT Foundation is committed to building stronger families and communities around the globe. This year, the MDRT Foundation will award nearly $1 million in member-endorsed grants to more than 100 charitable organizations worldwide.

“At Wyman, we believe that every teen in America deserves the opportunity to thrive in learning, work and life,” said Dave Hilliard, Wyman’s president and CEO. “We are pleased to partner with MDRT Foundation to advance our mission to make that vision a reality. We are grateful for this support and look forward to working together to transform today’s teens into tomorrow’s leaders.”

The Grant Supports Wyman’s Youth Development Solutions:

  • The Teen Outreach Program® (TOP®): Which locally and nationally empowers teens from 6th through 12th grade with the tools and opportunities needed to build a foundation of healthy behaviors, life skills and a sense of purpose.
  • The Teen Leadership Program (TLP): Which locally boosts teens’ college tenacity through an immersive, 6-year leadership program beginning the summer before 9th grade.

About the MDRT Foundation:
The MDRT Foundation was created in 1959 to provide MDRT members with a means to give back to their communities. Since its inception, the Foundation has donated more than $29 million in more than 70 countries throughout the world and in all 50 U.S. states. These funds were raised by MDRT members and industry partners. For more information, visit

About MDRT:
The MDRT Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Million Dollar Round Table, The Premier Association of Financial Professionals®. MDRT is an international, independent association of nearly 42,000 of the world’s best life insurance and financial services professionals from more than 80 countries and territories. MDRT members demonstrate exceptional product knowledge, strict ethical conduct and outstanding client service. MDRT membership is recognized internationally as the standard of sales excellence in the life insurance and financial services business. For more information, visit

Photo Caption: Jim Butler, pictured at the right, serves as a member of the Million Dollar Round Table Foundation and has been a long-time Wyman volunteer, supporter, and donor. Butler presented MDRT Foundation’s grant award to Dave Hilliard, Wyman president and CEO, and Wyman TLP teens during their 2015 graduation ceremony. 

Media Contact:
Kristin Gumper
Director, Communication and External Affairs

New York Times: Racial Wealth Gap Persists Despite Degree

College Grad

A recent piece from the New York Times indicates that there’s much more work to do in order to improve the lives of those most at-risk. Educational equity, job discrimination, and previous family wealth all play a vital role in the equation.

Even with tuition shooting up, the payoff from a college degree remains strong, lifting lifelong earnings and protecting many graduates like a Teflon coating against the worst effects of economic downturns.

But a new study has found that for black and Hispanic college graduates, that shield is severely cracked, failing to protect them from both short-term crises and longstanding challenges.

Economists emphasize that college-educated blacks and Hispanics over all earn significantly more and are in a better position to accumulate wealth than blacks and Hispanics who do not get degrees. Graduates’ median family income in 2013 was at least twice as high, and their median family wealth (which includes resources like a home, car and retirement account) was 3.5 to 4 times greater than that of nongraduates.

According to Ray Boshara, director of the Center for Household Financial Stability at the St. Louis Fed bank, substantially narrowing the racial and ethnic wealth gap would require policy changes to expand the availability of a quality college education without forcing students into outsize debt.

But while these college grads had more assets, they suffered disproportionately during periods of financial trouble.

There is not a simple answer to explain why a college degree has failed to help safeguard the assets of many minority families. Persistent discrimination and the types of training and jobs minorities get have played a role.

By the numbers:

  • In even the best of economic times, blacks and Hispanics have lagged whites.
  • The black unemployment rate, for example, has consistently been twice as high as the rate for whites, even among college graduates.
  • Researchers have repeatedly found discrimination in the job market. When two nearly identical résumés are sent out, for example, it has been documented that the candidate with a white-sounding name receives more callbacks than the applicant with a black-sounding name.
  • Discrimination like this and other factors contribute to the persistent and substantial pay gap between whites and minorities. Blacks, for instance, hold a disproportionate share of government jobs — a sector that has shrunk in recent years and provides fewer opportunities for big wage gains.
  • Blacks have fewer advanced degrees, and the ones who do are more often in lower-paying fields or graduates of colleges with lesser reputations.
  • Blacks and Hispanics are also less likely than whites to inherit money or receive help from their parents to cover a tuition bill or a down payment on a house

“Blacks and Latinos at all education levels, including college and advanced degrees, earn less than their white counterparts, which means lower lifetime earnings” and less ability to save, said John Schmitt, research director at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.

Unfortunately, disparities around race, class and culture continue to exist. Wyman remains committed to addressing these inequities as we follow our North Star — what’s right by teens. Learn more about how to support teens and change communities here:

Read more of the New York Times piece here.


Wyman News: Wyman & Award-Winning Public Education Campaign Team Up to Prevent Youth Tobacco Use

In 2015 and 2016, a seven-lesson tobacco and substance abuse curriculum leveraging Wyman’s evidence-based and proven TOP approach will strengthen youth knowledge about tobacco, change youth attitudes toward tobacco and engage young people as tobacco control activists.

In 2015 and 2016, a seven-lesson tobacco and substance abuse curriculum leveraging Wyman’s evidence-based and proven TOP approach will strengthen youth knowledge about tobacco, change youth attitudes toward tobacco and engage young people as tobacco control activists.

Pilot Program Leverages Wyman’s Proven, Evidence-Based Approach

WASHINGTON, D.C.Legacy and Wyman announced today a new collaboration to educate and engage students to prevent youth tobacco use and substance abuse. The two organizations will create a specialized curriculum to reach young people participating in Wyman’s innovative Teen Outreach Program® (TOP®).

Legacy, the national public health organization best known for its award-winning truth® youth tobacco prevention campaign, and Wyman, a Saint Louis-based nonprofit with more than 117 years’ experience helping teens from economically disadvantaged circumstances, have agreed to collaborate on a one-year project to develop and test a tobacco control and substance abuse supplement to Wyman’s successful youth programming.

TOP is a results-driven youth development approach that transforms teens and communities by empowering teens with the tools and opportunities needed to avoid risky behaviors and build a foundation of healthy behaviors, life skills and a sense of purpose.

“Legacy can’t end the tobacco epidemic without partners like Wyman who share our commitment to empowering young people and to achieving health equity,” said Robin Koval, CEO and President of Legacy. “Together we will build on the TOP program and take on the challenge of ending tobacco’s reign as the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.”

Via a grant from Legacy to Wyman, the organizations are building a seven-lesson tobacco and substance abuse curriculum to strengthen youth knowledge about tobacco, change youth attitudes toward tobacco and engage young people as tobacco control activists. Two sites within Wyman’s National Network will pilot the curriculum. More than 400 teens will participate in the pilots that will launch this fall. A third party evaluator will assess pilot outcomes and publish results in 2016.

TOP uses community service learning to help teens understand local issues and exercise the self-confidence, voice, advocacy, decision-making and priority-setting skills they develop as part of the program. The pilot will engage teens in tobacco control service learning experiences as well as participant-led local youth activism projects.

“This is a truly compelling opportunity to add another level of health advocacy to our work,” said Joe Miller, Wyman’s Senior Vice President of Partnerships and External Affairs. “This collaboration will further improve the lives and potential of TOP participants and trigger a positive ripple effect in communities where youth are most at risk of tobacco use.”

TOP is offered to teens in grades six through 12 at in-school, after-school and community settings via 68 partners and 300 providers in urban and rural environments nationwide. One of the most successful, cost-effective and highly-respected, evidence-based programs for teens in the U.S., TOP has been proven to reduce the risk of problem behavior and to increase healthy choices. To date, more than 600,000 young people have participated in Wyman’s programs.

Since its inception, Legacy has recognized the importance of youth activists in the fight against tobacco use. Legacy actively supports the efforts of young people who are ready to make a difference with programming that includes fellowships, hands-on training and expert-led presentations to develop the next generation of youth and young adult tobacco control leaders.

Legacy envisions an America where tobacco is a thing of the past, where all youth and young adults reject tobacco use. Legacy’s proven-effective and nationally recognized public education programs include truth®, the national youth smoking prevention campaign that has been cited as contributing to significant declines in youth smoking; EX®, an innovative public health program designed to speak to smokers in their own language and change the way they approach quitting; and research initiatives exploring the causes, consequences and approaches to reducing tobacco use. Located in Washington, D.C., the foundation was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. To learn more about Legacy’s life-saving programs, visit Follow us on Twitter @legacyforhealth and on Facebook at

Media Contact:
Kristin Gumper
Director, Communication and External Affairs


Featured Video: What Changing a Life Feels Like in Harrisonburg, Va.

Wyman recently went on the road to listen to the breakthroughs our partners are experiencing as part of the Teen Outreach Program (TOP).

As one of the 68 partners in Wyman’s National Network, James Madison University offers the innovative, evidence-based approach throughout Harrisonburg, Va. Teens here face poverty, disconnection with their families, or serve as translators to their loved ones who have recently immigrated to the U.S. But through TOP, they’re growing stronger, becoming more confident and working to change their communities.

Watch this video to learn more about their experiences. Or, learn more about Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program here.

Your Voice Is Needed Before Teen Pregnancy Prevention Dollars Are Cut

Your Voice Is Needed Before Teen Pregnancy Prevention Dollars Are Cut

Last week, the full House Committee took action to eliminate TPPP funding. Yesterday, portions of the Senate — the Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS) Subcommittee — worked to pass its version of the bill, which aims to cut critical programs proven to reduce teen and unplanned pregnancy.

Specifically, the bill:

  • Cuts funding for the evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs from $101 million to $20 million, which is an 80% cut.
  • This funding has supported programs – like Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program (TOP) – that have been rigorously evaluated and proven to change behavior.
  • It also increases funding for abstinence-only programs from $5 million to $20 million, which is a 300% increase.

Our time to act is now.

We must use the power of the National Network to influence tomorrow’s vote by the full Senate Appropriations Committee to ensure the longevity of these important programs.

Why now?

It’s in the Senate where actions by the House have been stopped.

What You Can Do to Take Action 

It is critical to weigh in with your members of Congress on the value of the TPPP programs, particularly if they are on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

We need to make noise if we want these programs to exist next year.

Please ask them to fully fund evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs at $101 million for FY 2016.

To view your Senators, click here.

In addition, you can:

  • Send an alert to others in your network asking them to contact elected officials. Feel free to use this language to make it easier.
  • Ask young people you work with to lend their voice – they can write letters to the editor, send emails to elected officials, and use social media to encourage their friends to contact their elected officials.
  • If you have a board members or other friends who have a good relationships with your congressional delegation, encourage them to weigh in – a quick phone call or email from someone well connected goes a long way.
  • If you haven’t already put your name on this letter circulated in November 2014, email to be added.

Other Resources

  • The National Campaign’s statement on the House LHHS bill.
  • TPPP talking points.
  • A blog and chart pointing out that the decline in the national teen birth rate was twice as large in the four-year period since TPPP started, compared to progress in previous four-year periods. While there are certainly many things that have contributed to the declines in teen childbearing, this accelerating progress is notable.
  • Survey findings demonstrating wide public support for the evidence-based TPPP.
  • November 2014 letter from more than 100 national, state, and local groups demonstrating broad support for maintaining funding for evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs.
  • For state specific information about teen and unplanned pregnancy, and TPPP grants going to the state, see here.

Wyman News: Wyman and inspireSTL Begin Collaboration to Grow Reach and Potential


Transition Enables Both Organizations
to Help More Teens Thrive, Not Just Survive

St. Louis, MO [June 16, 2015] – 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, under-served 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.

Charli Cooksey and Dave Hilliard

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 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.

Media Contact:
Kristin Gumper
Director, Communication & External Affairs


Wyman Partner, St. Louis Graduates, In the News: Working Together to Keep High School Graduates on College Path

Wyman has worked in partnership with St. Louis Graduates and a network of partners to inspire collective impact around the issue of graduation in the region.

Wyman’s Senior Vice President of Programs, Allison Williams, serves as co-chair of the St. Louis Graduates board, and as such, supported in the co-development of a recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch article addressing the issue of “Summer Melt,” a phenomenon that occurs between high school graduation and the beginning of college.

The issue impacts those coming from low-income areas and school districts, who do not make it to campus on the first day of class. According to academic literature, the issue affects 10 to 40 percent of students nationwide, with significantly higher rates occurring among low-income and first-generation college students.

Role for Everyone to Keep High School Graduates on College Path

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Allison Williams and Alan Byrd
June , 2015

Allison Williams, Sr. Vice President Wyman Center St. LouisSummer is upon us once again. While for many young people, this is a time of relaxation, camps and family vacations, those who work with college-bound students know summer as a time of great risk. Far too many students – especially those from lower-income communities and families with less experience with college – see their higher education hopes and ambitions melt away over the summer.

“Summer melt” is a phenomenon that occurs between high school graduation and the beginning of college. Many enrolled students, especially those coming from low-income areas and school districts, simply do not make it to campus on the first day of class. This phenomenon, according to academic literature, affects 10 to 40 percent of students nationwide, with significantly higher rates occurring among low-income and first-generation college students.

The reasons range from insufficient financial aid to a lack of support from family and friends to students feeling intimidated by the bureaucracy of the college enrollment process. During the school year, college counselors and teachers address these issues and help keep students on track. During the summer months, access to this critical support is lost.

In the coming years, the St. Louis region’s economy will require that more than 60 percent of adults have a high quality certificate or an associate or bachelor’s degree. Our region currently stands at 43 percent of adults with some such degree. In a region called to raise racial and economic equity as an absolute priority, this number stands at only 26 percent among African-American residents. From moral, equity and economic perspectives – preventing summer melt is the right thing to do. Fortunately, for the third year in a row, our region is collaborating on a solution.
The St. Louis Graduates High School to College Center has opened at 618 N. Skinker Boulevard in the Delmar Loop. College counseling and financial aid professionals from 23 schools and organizations will be available on a daily basis to support successful student transitions onto a post-secondary campus in the fall. They’ll counsel students on financial aid, housing, orientation and other “what do I do now?” questions. Using College Bound’s Bridgit system, students will leave with a detailed task list, and the center’s counselors will follow up with text reminders and encouragement as they work through it.

Last summer, 167 students representing 50 high schools in the area visited the site for assistance. Of these students, 70 percent enrolled in classes for the fall semester, according to National Student Clearinghouse data. For these students, this equates to a summer melt rate of 30 percent, significantly below the 40 percent of low-income students nationally who fall victim to it.

The High School to College Center is truly a collaborative response to a community challenge and only possible because so many pitch in: The Scholarship Foundation contributes financial aid advisers and laptop computers; Washington University provides space in the student-friendly Delmar Loop; Monsanto, Sigma-Aldrich and United Way of Greater St. Louis provide funding for counselor stipends and operations.

The issue of summer melt, and indeed the St. Louis region’s insufficent degree attainment rate, belongs to all of us, affects all of us and can be improved by all of us. The success of the High School to College Center shows what can happen when a community need is recognized, and caring stakeholders from across the region band together with an innovative solution.

We invite you to be a part of the solution. Come by the High School to College Center this summer with a new high school graduate – your neighbor, your son, your granddaughter, your cousin, the young man in the next pew at your place of worship, the employee working at your restaurant. You can help a high school graduate stay on the path to attending college this fall.

Information about the High School to College Center, including hours of operation, can be found at

St. Louis Graduates has for six years served as a community catalyst, bringing together education and community organizations to align and strengthen the system of support for low-income students through coordinated services and advocacy. St. Louis Regional Chamber is bringing St. Louis into the Top Ten regions in degree attainment by engaging business and higher education leadership to measure, monitor and inspire action to accelerate degree completion.

Wyman/Teen News: St. Louis Selected for National Initiative to Increase Degree Attainment; and Allison Williams, Senior Vice President-Programs at Wyman Begins St. Louis Graduates’ Co-Chair Position

St. Louis, Missouri – Lumina Foundation recently announced that St. Louis is one of the final 20 metropolitan areas joining  its 75-city community-based attainment network designed to help communities and regions dramatically increase the number of local residents with post-secondary credentials.

Lumina’s focus on community-based attainment began because of the Foundation’s recognition that community-based networks are well-suited to play a role in institutional planning and can provide the implementation and coordination that is necessary to create impact at state and federal levels in order to improve the nation’s higher education system so that it better serves students.

“Two-thirds of Americans live in or near cities. Our nation cannot meet its growing demand for citizens who have earned a post-secondary credential without meaningful community-based efforts that are tightly focused on increasing educational attainment,” said Jamie Merisotis, Lumina’s president and CEO.  “We are very pleased with the way this work has unfolded. With 75 communities across the nation working to align the work of business, civic and education efforts in their local communities, greater coordination will occur, resulting in tangible benefits for students of all ages.  These students in turn will become graduates who form the backbone of the future economic, social and cultural success of those communities.”

St. Louis was invited to be part of Lumina’s Community Partnership for Attainment network because of work already underway through St. Louis Graduates and St. Louis Regional Chamber.

St. Louis Graduates has for six years served as a community catalyst, bringing together education and community organizations to align and strengthen the system of support for low-income students through coordinated services and advocacy. St. Louis Regional Chamber is bringing St. Louis into the Top Ten regions in degree attainment by engaging business and higher education leadership to measure, monitor and inspire action to accelerate degree completion.

As part of Lumina’s Community Partnership for Attainment network, St. Louis will focus on strengthening efforts to increase degree completion rates for area students experiencing the greatest disparities: low-income and African American students.

St. Louis Graduates’ involvement is led by its two new co-chairs who were also recently announced:

Byrd holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration, both from Southeast Missouri State University. He is currently working on his Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Leadership at UMSL.

Williams holds a Bachelor’s degree from Saint Louis University and a Master’s degree from Boston College, both in Social Work.

Byrd and Williams will transition into the co-chair role over the next two months. Founders Jane Donahue, President of St. Louis Public Schools Foundation, and Faith Sandler, Executive Director of The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, continue as active members of the St. Louis Graduates Steering Committee involved in the Lumina network as well.

“St. Louis Graduates exists because of the vision and tireless commitment to students of Jane Donahue and Faith Sandler which has led to unprecedented regional collaboration in support of students. Alan and Allison will sustain that focus on students while building a regional advocacy voice,” said St. Louis Graduates Steering Committee member Kathy Reeves, Corporate Community Relations Director at Enterprise Holdings, who, with Cynthia Crim, Foundation Program Manager at Commerce Bank, led the nominating process that identified Byrd and Williams.

As the leader of undergraduate recruitment initiatives at UMSL, Byrd works daily with students who are first in their families to attend college and face significant financial obstacles to get there. At Wyman, Williams oversees implementation of Wyman’s Teen Leadership Program and Teen Outreach Program which build teen confidence, resilience and leadership skills in schools and community organizations locally and across the U.S.

“College and universities cannot work in isolation,” said Byrd. “We need the shared commitment of business and community leaders to ensure our neediest students have the support to not only enroll in college, but graduate.”

“Low-income and African American students face significant barriers to graduation – financial, academic, social-emotional, and cultural. Collaborating with the Chamber, business and higher education strengthens our voice in advocating for state and institutional policies that support students and keeps them on the path to a degree,” added Williams.

Leading the Community Partnership for Attainment work from the Chamber are President and CEO Joe Reagan and Vice President of Education Strategy Anne Klein. Reagan joined the Chamber three years ago after leading Greater Louisville Inc. – the Metro Chamber of Commerce where he helped launch that region’s 55,000 Degrees initiative. Klein joined the Chamber in December and brings extensive experience in policy and planning through positions with both St. Louis County and St. Charles County. The Chamber Higher Education Council and Talent Council representatives are also engaged.

“Not only is there an economic imperative to increase degree completion, there is a moral imperative to ensure greater equity in degree attainment for all St. Louisans. Working together with St. Louis Graduates creates a broad-based effort with the momentum to substantially increase the pool of metro graduates,” said Reagan.

The overall effort connects to Goal 2025, Lumina’s national goal to increase the percentage of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates, and other credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025. Progress toward the goal will be measured by credentials earned after high school, including certificates, associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees held by local residents. The cities selected will work with Lumina through 2016 to expand and deepen the work they have demonstrated in advancing postsecondary attainment agendas.

St. Louis will work closely with Lumina and national thought leaders to develop a customized action plan focused on reaching attainment goals to increase the percentage of high-quality credentials. The collaborative effort connects St. Louis and participating cities with significant technical and planning assistance, data tools, flexible funding, and the ability to customize attainment plans that will best suit each community’s needs and the well-being of its residents.

St. Louis Graduates and St. Louis Regional Chamber last week convened representatives of area school districts, higher education institutions, college access organizations and businesses to begin crafting the regional plan.

The third and final cohort of communities include: Atlanta, Ga.; Birmingham, Ala.; Boise, Idaho; Charleston, S.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Durham, N.C.; Fresno, Calif.; Miami, Fla.; Mobile, Ala.; Monterey Bay, Calif.; Racine, Wis.; Rockford, Ill.; Shasta County, Calif.; Southern Indiana; Springfield, Mo.; St. Louis, Mo.; Tampa, Fla.; Tulsa, Okla.; Twin Cities, Minn.; Tyler, Texas. To view a complete list of cities participating in this work, national thought leaders assisting these cities, and to learn more please click here.

About Lumina Foundation: Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina’s outcomes-based approach focuses on helping to design and build an accessible, responsive and accountable higher education system while fostering a national sense of urgency for action to achieve Goal 2025. For more information, log on to:

About St. Louis Graduates: St. Louis Graduates is a collaborative network of college access nonprofits, K-12 and higher education, business and philanthropy focused on increasing degree completion for low-income and first-generation students. For more information, visit

About St. Louis Regional Chamber:  The St. Louis Regional Chamber is a broad community of leaders united for economic prosperity throughout the entire St. Louis bi-state region. Our aspiration is for St. Louis to be one of the Top 10 U.S. regions in prosperity. Our one purpose is to inspire a greater St. Louis. Together, we will make St. Louis a more attractive place for people to live, work and invest. We will win on today’s regional strengths in focused economic clusters. We will champion a better tomorrow through greater educational attainment, economic inclusion, entrepreneurship and innovation. For more information, visit