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

$10,000 Monsanto Fund Gift Makes Expansion Possible

St. Louis, MO [May 23, 2016] – 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 carriers in related fields.

In response, Wyman is increasing its efforts to help teens master science and math via its inspireSTL Prep Academy. Thanks to a $10,000 grant from Monsanto Fund, all 80 rising eighth-and ninth-grade students in the program will receive high-quality math and science instruction during the eight-week summer Prep Academy. Historically, the program supported 40 middle school teens. The program is expanding to serve 80 teens in 2016 and will begin on June 6.

“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.”

Prep Academy scholars take advanced courses in math and science, and other subjects, throughout the summer and school-years. 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, science, applied mathematics and engineering.

“We believe education is a key component in any thriving community, and the Monsanto Fund is proud to partner with Wyman and inspireSTL,” said Michelle Insco, Monsanto Fund program officer. “This unique program places exceptional middle school scholars into rigorous college prep environments, helping these students see themselves as problem solvers as they progress into college and consider careers in science and math.”

Standardized testing has revealed that the program has helped students raise their mastery in math and science from 18 to 80 percent.

“This grant allows us to provide students with high-quality math and science instruction,” said Karen Bernstein, inspireSTL Prep Academy 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.”

The 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. In May 2015, the first cohort of inspireSTL scholars graduated from the region’s top high schools and successfully entered high-caliber, four-year universities around the country. At least 90 percent of these teens were 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 at-risk 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.

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, empowers teens from disadvantaged circumstances to live successful lives and build strong communities. Originally founded in 1898, Wyman envisions a day when all young people in America will succeed in learning, work and life.

Media Contact:
Kristin Gumper
Director, Communication & External Affairs