News: Wyman Increases Efforts to Boost Youth Proficiency in Math and Science

$10,000 Monsanto Fund Gift Makes Expansion Possible

St. Louis, MO [April 2017] – According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, science and math test scores continue to decline. Specifically, students’ proficiency declines between fifth and eighth grade. The ripple effect: students are less likely to perform well in these subjects in high school and college, and even less likely to pursue careers in related fields.

“This program operates within a critical period in the educational journey,” said Allison Williams, Wyman’s Senior Vice President of Programs. “A solid math and science foundation in middle school propels academic success and fosters interest and curiosity in these fields through high school, into college, and beyond. Monsanto Fund’s investment supports the development of future St. Louis leaders, which helps us not only create stronger communities, but also greater economic viability.”

InspireSTL provides high-potential scholars from the City of St. Louis with rigorous academic preparation to help them emerge as next-generation leaders. While taking essential math, science and literature courses, scholars are simultaneously learning study skills, stress management techniques and strategies for working within a team. Scholars receive two to three hours of homework each night throughout the summer, preparing them for their eventual course load, when they advance to ninth grade.

Additionally, students go on field trips throughout the St. Louis region to build knowledge and increase interest in these subjects. To help students understand how math and science are used in the real world, scholars learn from and interact with local experts from related fields, such as medicine, applied mathematics and engineering.

Standardized testing has revealed that the program has helped students improve their educational success.

“This grant allows us to provide students with high-quality math and science instruction,” said Karen Bernstein, InspireSTL Interim Co-Director. “Our middle schoolers are in classes with top high school teachers, conducting science labs, solving complex equations and taking their knowledge beyond a middle school standardized test. This allows them to get excited about what they’re learning, and challenge themselves to reach their full potential in classes many students perceive as difficult.”

Prep Academy is one of many components of InspireSTL, which is one of three offerings in Wyman’s portfolio of youth development solutions.

InspireSTL places scholars, identified as emerging young leaders, into local college prep schools. Support begins the summer after seventh 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. Since its inception in 2011, 100% of InspireSTL Scholars have graduated high school on time and have are attending four-year colleges. At least 90 percent of these teens are first-generation college students.

InspireSTL serves as a sister program to Wyman’s St. Louis-based Teen Leadership Program (TLP) and nationally recognized Teen Outreach Program (TOP).  Together, this suite of solutions serves thousands of youth from disadvantaged circumstances with social, emotional and academic support – all with a focus on leadership development. In the last five years, Wyman has helped more than 125,000 teens across the nation increase academic achievement and decrease risk factors that derail success through time-tested, evidence-based solutions.

InspireSTL’s Prep Academy is financed in part through an allocation of Community Development Block Grant Funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the City of St. Louis’ Community Development Administration.

About Monsanto Fund
The Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Company, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the communities where farmers and Monsanto Company employees live and work. Visit the Monsanto Fund at

About Wyman
Wyman, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit and proud member of the United Way, has been dedicated to serving youth from disadvantaged circumstances for more than a century. Wyman empowers teens, equips adults and strengthens systems. Wyman’s engaging, empowering and experiential programs and services help teens build skills, develop a sense of self, and connections to their world. As a result, teens achieve educational success, develop healthy behaviors and relationships, and exhibit life and leadership skills. From thousands of teens in St. Louis – to tens of thousands nationally – Wyman programs and services make a difference in the lives of today’s teens and tomorrow’s leaders.

Media Contact:
Kristin Gumper
Director, Communication & External Affairs