National Network Spotlight: Smith Community Mental Health

Certified Replication Partners in our National Network are successfully replicating Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program® (TOP®) across the country. The National Network Spotlight highlights a partner and celebrates their positive outcomes.

In Broward County, Florida, Smith Community Mental Health (SCMH) helps teens with behavioral health issues overcome personal obstacles and change their lives for the better. They serve 80 teens from at risk environments each year and use Wyman’s TOP® program for more than teaching essential life skills—it is also an excellent chance to help better their community.

“I feel TOP® has positively influenced the teens’ choices by giving them a safe environment where they feel free to discuss difficult topics openly,” said Brooke Tenenbaum, program manager. “Our teens have learned a number of life lessons like the importance of helping others, being able to have safe and healthy domestic relationships, practicing safe sex, speaking up for themselves, and how tBroward 5o work well with peers for a common goal.“

The program has also educated the teens about the importance of helping others in the community.  Community service projects have included suicide prevention activities and beach cleanup projects.

One of the most meaningful activities that the group has participated in was a feeding the homeless project during the winter months.  Following their day of volunteering, the teens and facilitators sat down together at a restaurant for a “family meal” – an unusual experience for many of the young people.  While they enjoyed their food, the teens began to open up about their personal experiences with homelessness.

“It was very powerful to hear our youth describe their own struggles after a day of helping others. Some of them still face the problem of homelessness, but they gave their time to help others,” said Tenebaum.

Tenenbaum finds it touching to see the teens form the kind of relationships they likely wouldn’t have in their lives without TOP®.Broward 4

“Seeing how engaged the youth become and how trusting they are with the facilitators and other peers in the groups is my favorite part. This is why it’s so beneficial that our staff is made up of various professionals that are experienced with at-risk youth,” she said.

Tenenbaum and  the staff widely agree that TOP® has touched the lives of participating teens as well as the community.  The teens have been very vocal that they feel blessed to have the program as a source of help and a personal refuge.  Broward 6

National Network Spotlight: Community Action Corporation of South Texas

Certified Replication Partners in our National Network are successfully replicating Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program® (TOP®) across the country. The National Network Spotlight highlights a partner and celebrates their positive outcomes.

Community Action Corporation of South Texas (CACOST) is a non-profit organization that aims to improve their region by providing high quality health care, education, employment and economic opportunities.

south texasCACOST implemented Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program (TOP®) in January 2013 in an effort to educate area teens about making healthy choices and leading successful lives. TOP® lessons were facilitated to 427 youth on a weekly basis in six school districts through the months of September 2013 to May 2014. Youth participants were engaged in numerous service learning projects during this period and completed a cumulative total of 2,957 community service hours during this time.

CACOST’S Youth Development Coordinator and Director April Anzaldua feels it was an awe-inspiring experience to see students discussing and expressing their perspective about issues teens are facing in school.

“TOP® lessons encourage youth to weigh their options based on the three C’s: Challenge, Choice and Consequences. Given a sense of responsibility, the teens became proactive in their decisions when it came to their day-to-day activities,” said Anzaldua.

One of the most meaningful parts of TOP® for these Texas TOP® teens was their involvement in Community Service Learning.  Youth participants were engaged in numerous service learning projects during this period and completed a cumulative total of 2,957 Community Service Learning hours.  Anzaldua shared the experience of one TOP® club’s Community Service Learning project, a community park revitalization project:

“The Teen Outreach Program® has influenced our teens by examining their individual conceptions of what a community service learning project is and reflecting their own ideas of a community service learning project that is outside the stereotypical clean-up. The teens in Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco ISD decided that a park clean-up was not merely enough for their town. The teens had an inner passion and civic duty to revitalize their community park. With the guidance of the facilitators, the youth hosted teen dances and concession stands to raise money to purchase equipment for a volleyball court, set up a basketball hoop, and build picnic tables for their community. The Teen Outreach Program® offered the youth in the rural community of Ben Bolt to allow their voices to be heard and make a positive difference in their community.  The community park revitalization project created great enthusiasm and pride for the teens of Ben Bolt.  The teens felt a sense of accomplishment from start to finish.  From March 2013 to April 2014, what seemed like a dream at first became a reality for the teens on April 5, 2014, when the TOP® Club named ‘The Family’ came together with their community to celebrate their achievements.”


CACOST’s facilitators found that they have a lot to learn from the teens as well. Staff was able to get a first-hand perspective on the teens’ attitudes and learn more about the issues they face in their region.

The TOP® sessions were so successful for CACOST that they elected to continue the program at all existing sites as well as add a new school district in January 2014.  The addition of Mathis Independent School District means the program will reach 60 additional youth throughout rural South Texas.




Wyman Named SCE Partner

SCE mastheadWyman is pleased to announce that it was selected as one of eight nationwide organizations that will partner with the Susan Crown Exchange to be a part of their Social and Emotional Learning Challenge.

For the next 18 months, these eight informal learning programs for teens—ranging from a wooden boat building program in Philadelphia to a performing arts/community action hub in New York City to Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program—will explore best practices in social and emotional learning.

The initiative aims to elevate the importance of social and emotional learning through an intensive effort with a notable cohort of teen programs. The finalists were chosen from among 250 youth organizations, making this an exceptional group of youth programs that have shown striking results in their work.

The collaboration teams up SCE partners with a research team from the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, where they will look at and learn from the programs and then pass on results to youth organizations across the country. They will focus on identifying the best practices for equipping the young people with the social and emotional skills of resilience, empathy, agency, self-regulation and grit. The ultimate goal is to provide the next generation with the tools they need to thrive in the 21st century.

About SCE and the Social and Emotional Learning Challenge

SCE is a social investment organization that connects talent and innovation with market forces to drive social change. Their newly launched Social and Emotional Learning Program reimagines education as a broad and rich ecosystem for learning, anytime, anywhere.

The Social and Emotional Learning Challenge aims to distill and codify the practices of the SEL field’s best programs for teens to elevate the impact and importance of social and emotional learning.

Wyman’s Teen Leadership Program Celebrates Senior Class

Blog post by Bryan Capers, College and Community Program Manager for Wyman’s Teen Leadership Program.

On Friday, April 18th, more than seventy supporters of Wyman’s Teen Leadership Program (TLP) came together to celebrate the high school graduations and accomplishments of our TLP seniors.


Missouri State Scholarship recipients Alexis Creamer and Jalen Baker pictured with TLP Director Tim Kjellesvik

Thirty of the 63 graduates joined us with their families to eat a hearty meal, receive certificates of recognition and hear words of encouragement from Wyman’s President and CEO, Dave Hilliard.

One of the highlights of the night was “counting coup,” a traditional TLP observation when participants share their accounts of the program’s impact on their lives, families and communities at large.

The ceremony also included presentations from Jalen Baker and Alexis Creamer, two full-ride scholarship recipients in Wyman’s Scholars program. Baker and Creamer each received a four-year scholarship to Missouri State University.

scholarshipIn addition, each year the Saigh Foundation provides a $1,000 scholarship to a Wyman teen who is committed to community service, has exhibited outstanding academic achievement and demonstrates leadership and active participation in Wyman’s TLP. Andre Block Jr. was awarded the $1,000 Saigh Young Leader Award.

After high school graduation, our teens will transition into Wyman’s College Persistence Program, the final two years of the program. During these two years, they will receive continued social, emotional and institutional support from Wyman.

Much success to our seniors as they transition into their post-secondary endeavors!
Class of 2014 teens_1

National Network Spotlight: Colorado Youth Matter

Certified Replication Partners in our National Network are successfully replicating Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program® (TOP®) across the country. The National Network Spotlight highlights a partner and celebrates their positive outcomes.

Colorado Youth Matter (CYM) initiated the Colorado Network for Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program® in 2011 to make TOP® more accessible for organizations throughout Colorado. A state-wide organization committed to youth sexual health and access to opportunity for all young people, the organization now supports 23 TOP® clubs serving 350 youth in total. CYM plans to see TOP® continue to grow and reach more youth in need this year.

IMG_5681“TOP® helps our teens make better choices because it gives them two things: the knowledge needed to make informed decisions and the confidence in their own critical thinking to make decisions in their own best interest,” Stefanie Winfield, Colorado Youth Matter’s evaluation manager said.

According to CYM facilitators, the TOP® participants enjoy the emotional safety of club and appreciate feeling like their words have value. The teens experience empowerment from the knowledge they gain about healthy relationships, leadership and sexual health.

“I love that TOP® is a safe place for teens to express themselves. This freedom provides a unique opportunity for them to talk through who they are and what they stand for. Their “Ah-ha!” moments when they discover something new about themselves or see something from a new perspective is incredibly rewarding to witness,” one facilitator said.

For many facilitators in Colorado’s Youth Matter Network, one of the best things about TOP® is how easy the program is to implement. The curriculum allows facilitators to plan out three months in advance, as well as adapt their lessons to the language and experiences of the youth being served. This ease of implementation also permits flexibility in the recruiting process, opportunities for facilitators to offer incentives for club attendance and field trips similar to community service learning activities that engage young people who may possibly join TOP® in the future.

Colorado Youth Matter’s network partners have gained a lot from TOP®. Through TOP®, facilitators connect to and work with organizations in Colorado that are committed to providing positive youth development and community engagement across the state. By developing an encouraging rapport between the young people and their communities, TOP® also fosters hope and pride in communities across Colorado.

National Network Spotlight: Children’s Network of Southwest Florida

Certified Replication Partners in our National Network are successfully replicating Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program® (TOP®) across the country. The National Network Spotlight highlights a partner and celebrates their positive outcomes.

Each National Network partner discovers unique ways to tailor Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program® to best serve the young people in their community. For Children’s Network of Southwest Florida, the lead agency for child welfare services in Southwest Florida, TOP® offered a great opportunity to partner with programs that were already serving youth.

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Children’s Network TOP® teens after a community service learning project

“[TOP®’s] structure allowed us to maintain fidelity while serving a large geographic area,” said Program Director Karen Turcotte. “We serve teens ages 12-18 in 19 clubs across five counties. Our clubs are held in many different settings, including public schools, community grassroots organizations, group homes, faith-based programs and United Way community centers.”

The diverse settings of the clubs enable facilitators to work with students in familiar environments. By using previously existing supports, Children’s Network designs each club to strengthen the work that’s already occurring in the community. This method uses collective impact to achieve results, and allows Children’s Network to find ways to encourage more organizations to contribute to TOP®.

“Although it is not realistic for some agencies to become a club site, there are many different ways we’ve created community support for TOP®,” added Turcotte. “From providing food donations to guest speakers, offering community service learning help to transportation assistance, we look for ways every community organization can contribute to our TOP® clubs.”

These support systems allow participants to further learn from their community service learning projects and lessons. From their experiences, teens in the clubs are learning to think critically, identify their strengths and better understand and practice their personal values. For one student, TOP® also provided a way to channel energy into a meaningful reflection.

“Anthony is playful and enthusiastic, so sometimes it is difficult to tell if he grasps the concepts because he often engages in side chatter,” Facilitator John Wheeler said. “One week following our lesson on family, he was busy folding construction paper on the table throughout a lesson. At the end of the lesson, he showed us what he was working on: an intricately folded box that demonstrated how a family begins with one person and builds from love. As he unfolded his box and transformed it into a rose, he gave his peers a powerful demonstration of how to reflect on TOP®’s lessons.”

Overall, the teens and facilitators have thoroughly enjoyed TOP®. According to Turcotte, many organizations shared that TOP® is exactly the kind of programming communities need to enhance the experiences of young people.

Wyman’s 7th Annual Spring Derby


Mark your calendar and dust off those derby hats, the 7th running of Wyman’s Spring Derby is set for Saturday, May 3, 2014 at Ballpark Village in downtown St. Louis!

At this annual Kentucky Derby-themed party, presented by Wyman’s Young Leaders Board, guests watch and bet on vintage horse races played on the big screen while partying through the afternoon to support Wyman teens. 

Ballpark Village is set to open March 27, making Wyman’s Spring Derby one of the first grand events to happen in this new and exciting space.

The Simmons Employee Foundation has once again stepped into the role of “Triple Crown” sponsor with a pace-setting gift of $5,000! Last year, sponsors and party goers netted $17,900 to help teens beat the odds, providing life-changing supports and opportunities to help them build the confidence and skills they need to succeed in life, work and learning.

“This event has been running for six years, now, and delivers a great time again and again. At Simmons, we’re proud to sponsor an unforgettable high stakes evening, for an organization that is helping young people in our community beat the odds,” Suvir Dhar, Board Member for Simmons Employee Foundation, said.

On May 3 the stakes will be high—not just because of the race wagers, but also for the crucial work Wyman does on behalf of teens from disadvantaged circumstances in St. Louis and beyond.

Stay connected with us on Facebook, to be updated when tickets go on sale!

National Network Spotlight: Project Vida Health Center

Certified Replication Partners in our National Network are successfully replicating Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program® (TOP®) across the country. The National Network Spotlight highlights a partner and celebrates their positive outcomes.

Deep in Texas, close to the Mexican border, young people ages 12 to 21 are developing exceptional characteristics as they realize that their opinions and experiences are valued in Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program®. Through Project Vida Health Center (PVHC), Wyman’s TOP® serves more than 200 teens, some of whom are first-time offenders. For them, TOP® is more than a program that provides valuable life skills and give them a desire to positively impact the world—it is a second chance at regaining the trust of their community.

Project Vida Health Center Staff

Project Vida Health Center Staff

“TOP® gives [young people] the opportunity to rejoin their community as caring, responsible teens,” Sandra Rodriguez, TOP® coordinator, said. “Our participants have expressed how much TOP® helps them to be a better person and teaches them to be grateful for the friendships they’ve established through their experiences.”

For PVHC and its teens, the real impact comes from the community service learning (CSL) component of TOP®. PVHC first became interested in offering TOP® because of the program’s incorporation and structure of CSL. After adopting TOP®, facilitators quickly noted how CSL projects have the power to fully engage young people and, in doing so, create a greater impact on their behavior and choices.

“The fact that teens have a choice and voice when selecting their projects makes a huge difference. Through CSL, the participants feel and see the impact their work is capable of generating. The most rewarding experience is seeing the glow on our teens’ faces after a CSL project is completed and they realize the difference they made,” added Rodriguez.

The CSL projects include canned food drives, toy drives, fundraisers to benefit animal shelters and children’s hospitals as well as outreach to support homeless children and immigrant youth. Through consistent recruitment efforts, PVHC facilitators and coordinators hope to expose more teens to TOP® and the benefits of CSL. Their recruitment efforts comprise of visiting schools, attending health fairs and distributing community flyers to reach more young people. PVHC also joined a local coalition to bring on additional partners and spread the word about the program. Through these efforts, PVHC will bring TOP® to many more teens in the El Paso, TX region throughout 2014.