Wyman Welcomes Karen Guskin, Forms New Knowledge Management Department

St. Louis, MO [Sept. 22, 2014]Wyman Center, a national leader that provides at-risk teens and communities the tools they need to succeed, is pleased to announce the addition of Karen Guskin, Senior Vice President. Guskin will oversee Wyman’s new Knowledge Management Department, beginning Sept. 22, 2014.

Guskin brings extensive experience in the research field with a particular focus on children. Previously, she served as the Director of Research and Quality Improvement for Parents as Teachers National Center, a federally recognized, evidence-based model that specializes in early childhood development.

While at Parents as Teachers, Guskin oversaw the design, development, implementation and communication of data on programming impact and reach. She also guided quality assurance and improvement initiatives, as well as outcome measurement.

Guskin will be responsible for designing and institutionalizing Wyman’s research strategy, driving learning from Wyman’s intellectual capital, and informing innovation. In addition, she will spearhead initiatives to share resulting learnings with Wyman’s more than 60-partner national network, and key stakeholders at nonprofits, government, funding sources and educational and healthcare institutions throughout the U.S.

With Guskin’s expertise, the Knowledge Management department will guide Wyman’s ongoing participation in national youth development studies and bridge theory, practice and advocacy for Wyman’s national initiatives.

Guskin has participated in numerous conferences and articles on parenting, children’s coping styles, evaluation and implementation. She holds an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and a doctorate in psychology from Stanford University. She also studied clinical psychology at the University of Missouri – St. Louis.

“We believe teens are one of our nation’s greatest assets, but in order to ensure we’re continuing to unlock their potential, we have to do our homework,” said David Hilliard, President and CEO of Wyman Center. “Karen will guide vital research that will ultimately help us provide, replicate and integrate the most effective evidence-based programs that truly help today’s at-risk teens create brighter futures.”

Wyman is currently involved in research with 11 replication partners, including Chicago Public Schools, the Florida Department of Health and the City of Rochester, N.Y.

As a result of these and other learnings, Wyman offers a variety of opportunities to share youth development best practices in support of collective impact. On October 8, Wyman will assemble local and national experts in a round-table discussion on social emotional learning.  To register for this free event, visit http://wymancenter.org/saighsymposium2014/.

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 survive and thrive in life. Wyman’s innovative programs are powerful and effective, and the staff is highly acclaimed and committed to preparing today’s youth. For more information, visit www.wymancenter.org or contact Wyman at info@wymancenter.org. 


For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Kristin Gumper, Director, Communication and External Affairs, at Kristin.Gumper@WymanCenter.org or 314.346.4042.

The Only People We Cannot Reach Are Those We Refuse To Touch

Hasan Davis is one of a panel of national experts that will speak on Wednesday, October 8, 2014, during Wyman’s annual symposium titled, “Social Emotional Learning: Funding. Policy. Practice.”

According to Davis, “The only people we cannot reach are those we refuse to touch.”

After an early history of social and academic challenges, including learning disabilities, pre-teen arrest and expulsion from alternative school and college, Hasan Davis found the courage to change. He petitioned for re-admission to the college that expelled him twice.

He not only graduated, he received the Navy V-12 award in recognition of his outstanding contributions, graduated from law school, and served in high ranking advisory capacities with the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice and the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice.

“My blessing was that I was surrounded by family and support systems that provided me with opportunities to get back on track,” adds Davis. “Unfortunately, my circumstances are the exception and not the rule.”

Today, Davis is dedicated to improving the lives of young people. He travels the country providing technical assistance to youth serving organizations and also offers training and resources to correctional facilities, community organizations, schools and non-profit groups nationwide.

During the symposium, Davis will draw upon his education and personal journey while discussing his research, policy work and experience with social emotional learning and its effectiveness with youth.

Seats are filling up fast. To register for this free event, visit: http://wymancenter.org/saighsymposium2014/.

Wyman’s 2014 Saigh Symposium — Social Emotional Learning: Funding. Policy. Practice.

Social Emotional Learning: Funding. Policy. Practice.

Young people learn social emotional skills – positive or negative – no matter what we do. But how do they learn about these skills?

The critical question that we must answer is: How are we being intentional about helping teens develop the positive skills and behaviors vital to their success in life, work and family?

Join Wyman as we address this important issue alongside a panel of national experts, who will discuss their research, policy work and experience with social emotional learning. Panelists will cover why funders are focusing on social emotional learning and the impact of social emotional learning within youth serving sectors.

Wyman’s 2014 Saigh Symposium Panelists:

  • Hannah Baptiste – Program Associate, Susan Crown Exchange
  • Dale A. Blyth, Ph.D. – Extension Professor, Howland Endowed Chair in Youth Leadership Development, Senior Research Fellow, Center for Applied Research & Educational Improvement, College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota
  • Hasan Davis – former Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice


  • Amanda Moore McBride, PhD. – Bettie Bofinger Brown Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Social Work, Brown School; Director, Gephardt Institute for Public Service; and Faculty Director, Civic Engagement and Service, Center for Social Development, at Washington University in St. Louis

The event is free and will be followed by a reception with light refreshments.

Registration is now closed.

  • To participate in the live stream, visit:http://americangraduate.ninenet.org/saigh-symposium.
  • The streaming presentation will be avaialble beginning at 3:15 p.m. on Oct. 8.
  • We encourage continuing the conversation with us, @WymanCenter, and sharing the conversation on social media. The hashtag slated for the conversation is #AmGradSTL.

Location: Nine Network of Public Media
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
3:30 PM – 5:00 PM

Driving and Parking Directions

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which people learn to recognize and manage their emotions and develop fundamental skills for life effectiveness. Research and practice around SEL seeks to understand how concepts such as agency, grit, resilience, empathy and teamwork play a role in connecting young people to positive futures.

About the Saigh Symposium:

Presented by Wyman Center in partnership with The Saigh Foundation, The Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and Incarnate Word 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, helping the St. Louis community support young people in high school graduation and future success.


Wyman Reinforces Peaceful Response; Solutions in the Face of St. Louis Crisis


Contacts: Kristin Gumper
Wyman Center
Director, Communication and External Affairs


St. Louis, MO [Aug. 14, 2014] – Wyman offers the below response in relation to the recent events in St. Louis:

“As a staff and as an organization, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Michael Brown, as well as the people of Ferguson and surrounding areas. We have lost too many young people in our community due to ongoing violence. These types of events create physical and psychological trauma that lead to a socially toxic environment, and as a community, we need to do whatever it takes to break the cycle,” said David Hilliard, President and CEO of Wyman Center.

“The first step is calling for a peaceful response, and most importantly, supporting the community as residents recover from the rippling effects,” added Hilliard. “We’ve got to address the underlying issues and be prepared to build the future we wish to see. We join with our partner organizations in a united effort to provide parents, educators and community leaders with the resources they need to support children during this tumultuous time.”

The St. Louis County Children’s Service Fund is offering immediate mental health services for children and families impacted by the recent events:

  • The Fund will be providing group crisis support services on Thursday, August 14, 2014. Additional sessions may be added based on the needs of the community. No appointment is necessary. To learn more, visit www.keepingkidsfirst.org.
  • For immediate mental health assistance, County residents are encouraged to contact the St. Louis County Youth Connection Helpline at 314-628-2929. The Helpline is staffed by mental health professionals and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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 survive and thrive in life. Wyman’s innovative programs are powerful and effective, and the staff is highly acclaimed and committed to preparing today’s youth. For more information, visit www.wymancenter.org, contact Wyman at (636) 938-5245 or e-mail info@wymancenter.org.


National Network Spotlight: Seasons of Change, Inc.

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 2013, the annual Texas Gang Threat Assessment reported that gang activity is growing in the state with more than 100,000 members in more than 2,500 individual groups. The area most impacted by these groups is in Dallas-Fort Worth.

This is the climate in which Seasons of Change, Inc. operates and creates successes. They implemented Wyman’s TOP® to develop a system of encouragement, life skills training, team building activities, group discussions, education, and community service that benefits both gang and non-gang affiliated clients.

Imagine taking a group of teenagers to a local park to clean up trash. Now make a number of the young people members of rival gangs who, at the beginning of the day, refuse to work together or even get off the bus. Through Seasons of Change, these teens eventually learn to work side-by-side with their former rivals and see the good that they can achieve together.

Helping young gang members open up about their lives and complicated personal issues is easier said than done, but Nathan Anguiano, Project Director for Seasons of Change, has some advice from her experience and successes.

“You have to build relationships,” says Anguiano. “You have to gain their trust and treat them all the same. Enforce rules and discipline but be willing to bend a little when necessary. Show a concern in how they’re doing every day and, in time, they will be completely open with you. This is how you can help them, this is how you can build leaders out of them.”

The impact that Seasons of Change has can be illustrated by one young client who was dismissed from his school because of on-campus gang activity. He requested through his principal that he be able to keep attending TOP® classes because he said, “I need them in my life. I need them to continue to teach me about making better choices so that I can better my life.”

Organizers point to how students bond over personal stories and realize that despite the fact they are from different gangs, they go through the many of same experiences and share the common goal of graduating.

Through TOP®’s community service lessons, students begin to think outside of themselves. The positive results make them more eager to give back to the community. One seventeen year old student said: “TOP® helped me to actually feel loved.”

National Network Spotlight: Susanna Wesley Family Learning 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.

Sometimes the future success of a student shines so brightly that you can identify them as early as elementary school – even if they’ve struggled to reach their full potential and even if they’ve been labeled as at risk.

In the spring of 2009, staff members of the Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center (SWFLC) saw the potential in 10 students attending sixth grade in East Prairie, MO.  The team began working with the young people four days per week on their homework, goal planning, and participation in activities that would form bonds to provide them with peer support as they advanced through school.

“These were clearly outstanding students who had leadership qualities.  They just needed some extra attention,” says Marsha Hutchason, program director at SWFLC.

The group incorporated Wyman’s TOP® into their curriculum starting in their freshman year and felt that it was an important part of their continued academic success, especially because of the encouragement and guidance they received about making responsible social choices.

“Many of my friends started participating in questionable activities in their personal lives and I’m not certain I would have resisted the peer pressure if not for TOP®,” said one student.

Other students reported that TOP® provided a sense of belonging and acceptance among like-minded students.

Flash forward to high school graduation when the valedictorian and two co-salutatorians in the class are all members of TOP®.  Every one of the participants is headed to college in the fall.

“This was an amazing group of students.  We can’t wait to see what the future holds for them,” Hutchason said.

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.