About Wyman’s Teen Connection Project® (TCP®)

Wyman’s Teen Connection Project (TCP) is an innovative, nationally-recognized, evidence-based program that builds strong social connections among high school age youth.

TCP is based on several key, research-based factors: 1) teens are very socially-focused; they are wired to seek and manage peer experiences; 2) social and emotional skills develop in the context of supportive relationships; and 3) supportive peer relationships and social and emotional skills lead to enhanced life outcomes.

TCP lessons focus on communication, trust, vulnerability, giving and getting support, and exploring personal strengths. Teens learn to interact, share, and create and maintain social connections.

group of teen connection project students

Best Practices Listings & Summary of Results

Wyman’s Teen Connection Project (TCP) has been implemented successfully in diverse communities. Independent research reviews by organizations have recognized TCP for its evidence-base.

TCP has received CASEL’s highest designation for high-quality SEL programming.

TCP has been recognized as a Promising Program by Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development.

How TCP works

The Teen Connection Project (TCP) was originally developed by Dr. Joseph P. Allen, a clinical psychologist and Hugh Kelly Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia. Dr. Allen’s research interests include adolescent social development and peer relationships, as well as ways to enhance adolescent social and emotional development.

The inspiration for TCP came from Dr. Allen’s experience as an adolescent, as well as his conversations with adolescents. He found that when adolescents were part of supportive peer groups, it benefitted their overall high school experience. He became interested in identifying the ingredients in supportive peer groups and the idea of intentionally creating these groups. Initial development of TCP relied on feedback on the interests and needs of youth from Wyman staff in after-school programs in the St. Louis region and Wyman partner sites in St. Louis, Missouri and El Paso, Texas.

In 2014 and 2015, Dr. Allen wrote the TCP Curriculum and began piloting TCP activities in Virginia and, in partnership with Wyman, in St. Louis. Funding to Dr. Allen from the William T. Grant Foundation supported the expansion of TCP in partnership with Wyman as part of a rigorous evaluation study. Through this research-practice partnership, TCP was delivered to 326 youth in high schools in the St. Louis area. Since the end of the research project, Wyman has continued to deliver TCP in the St. Louis region. Wyman’s national replication of TCP began in Spring 2019 with the recruitment of 5 National Network partners to participate in a pilot during the 2019-2020 school year. A portion of the pilot was funded by the Youthbridge Community Foundation’s Think Big for Kids grant.

TCP’s unique approach to youth development includes:

  • Engaging curriculum lessons, facilitated in a specific order
  • Weekly, small peer group meetings of high school aged youth designed to build trust & connections
  • Positive adult guidance and support

TCP includes 12 lessons, delivered in 45-60 minutes; lessons must be implemented in order, as they were designed to progress over time.

In the beginning of the program, youth come together to get to know one another and start to create a group culture. Once the group has been established, lessons focus on trust building and sharing. As lessons progress over time, youth share more about themselves and deepen their level of connection.

TCP achieves positive outcomes for youth by building a cohesive and supportive peer group that demonstrates the value of deep, caring relationships to teens and supports them in extending these connection skills to others in their families, schools and communities. The program’s primary goals are to:

  • Strengthen connection to others
  • Support development of a positive sense of self
  • Improve social and emotional learning and life skills
  • Improve health, well-being and academic outcomes
  • Reduce risky behavior

Through the research to practice partnership with the University of Virginia, TCP’s effectiveness was tested in St. Louis area high schools using a rigorous, randomized controlled trial across 4 consecutive semesters spanning program years 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. TCP participation resulted in significant improvements in peer relationships, academic engagement, and use of social support to cope with stress, as well as lower levels of depressive symptoms.

Bringing TCP to your community

Wyman employs a comprehensive relationship-based replication partnership approach. When organizations partner with Wyman to replicate TCP in their own communities they receive:

  • Intensive program training and start-up support
  • Periodic program reviews
  • Access to a proprietary data collection and monitoring system, Wyman Connect
  • On-going technical assistance and training opportunities to ensure high quality program implementation

In partnering with Wyman, organizations become a member of a National Network of organizations delivering Wyman Programs—a community of practice through which they may interact with peers who are also committed to delivering excellence.

Become a Partner

Please contact Tori Gale to explore if you’re interested in replicating TOP in your community:
Tori Gale
Senior Director, Partnership Services

Visit our Resources Page to view additional TCP resources.