News: Wyman Celebrates 120 Years Empowering Youth to Thrive

David Rodgers, Vice President of Corporate Asset Management at Caleres, Elected as Chairman of the Board of Trustees to Lead Wyman into Its Next Era

St. Louis, MO [March 12, 2018] – Wyman, a St. Louis-based youth development nonprofit, today celebrates 120 years dedicated to serving youth from disadvantaged circumstances. Over the course of the last century, Wyman has evolved from a youth camp in Eureka, Mo., into an evidence-based provider of programs that empower more than 22,000 teens annually to thrive in more than 190 communities nationwide. Wyman also equips adults to better serve youth and strengthens systems (like school districts) that are so influential in helping young people succeed.

As Wyman moves into its next era of youth development, Wyman is pleased to announce that David Rodgers, vice president of corporate asset management at Caleres (formerly Brown Shoe, Co.), has been elected as the new Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Wyman. Rodgers has consistently worked to improve the lives of youth as a member of Wyman’s Board since 2013. As previous Chair of the civic engagement arm of the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative, Rodgers gained experience working with community service and youth development organizations. Rodgers also co-owns Kitchen House Coffee, a local coffee shop focused on community and sustainable living.

“When I was first introduced to Wyman, I was inspired and so moved by Wyman’s young leaders,” said Rodgers. “Given my experiences with similar organizations during my childhood in East St. Louis, I know first-hand just how impactful extra support can be in a young person’s life. I consider it my responsibility to support youth in Wyman’s programs, who I know will become our region’s future leaders. I’m honored to step into this role and help the organization improve the lives of more young people.”

Rodgers succeeds Keat Wilkins, president and co-founder of Sense Corp. Wilkins has been instrumental in deepening Wyman’s investment in research-based programs and practices, developing programmatic innovations and creating impact at scale through Wyman’s National Network. During his tenure, Wyman also merged with InspireSTL, a program that helps youth from the City of St. Louis gain access to and complete a rigorous high school and college journey.

“A vibrant society is only as strong as its young people. We are thrilled that leaders like David and Keat are standing for the teens who will transform our region into a place where the economy hums, and everyone benefits from sharing their skills, talents and passions,” said Claire Wyneken, Wyman president and CEO. “Success results from everyone standing shoulder-to-shoulder and looking in the same direction toward one common goal. Too many of our region’s youth are limited by the widening opportunity gap.  Wyman teens are the kind of capable, committed and compassionate leaders that our region requires. When we all work from our shared commitment to teens, we lay a foundation that will create equitable opportunities for all youth to succeed and contribute to a better world.”

Wyman has deployed some of the nation’s most successful evidenced-based solutions to help teens transform their destinies and communities. Each year, 1.2 million youth drop out of high school in the US due to a variety of factors, including the stress associated with living in poverty, lack of positive mentors, supportive relationships and other inequitable circumstances such as the need to find a job or care for a family member. But in Wyman’s programs, youth are succeeding at rates far beyond their peers.

The Teen Outreach Program® (TOP®), serving more than 22,000 youth across the U.S., empowers teens from sixth through 12th grade with the tools and opportunities needed to build a foundation of healthy behaviors, life skills and a sense of purpose, and avoid risky behaviors that derail success. Caring and highly trained adult facilitators guide students through a unique combination of engaging curriculum and experiential community service that helps teens build strengths and hone social emotional skills proven to bolster success later in life. Skills include emotion management, empathy, teamwork, responsibility, initiative and problem solving.

The Teen Leadership Program, serving over 400 youth in the region, boosts teens’ college tenacity through a six-year course of leadership experiences, and college access and persistence programming that begins the summer after eighth grade. Wyman coaches help teens identify their values, talents and interests, and explore aligned career paths. Teens participate in college tours, community service and work with coaches to apply for college and secure financial aid that reduces the financial burden after graduation. In 2017, 100 percent of teens graduated high school and 90 percent pursued post-secondary opportunities.

InspireSTL, serving 192 teens from the City of St. Louis, provides scholars with rigorous academic preparation to help them emerge as next-generation leaders. Scholars are placed into top high schools across the region. The program begins the summer after seventh grade, lasts through college, and includes securing financial aid, tutoring, coaching, ACT prep and providing financial resources to fill gaps. In 2017, 100 percent of InspireSTL teens graduated high school, and 100 percent pursued post-secondary opportunities.

Wyman has been recognized as one of the “100 Top Non-Profits in America Creating Social Impact” by the Social Impact Exchange, and by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Justice.

About Wyman: Wyman has been dedicated to serving youth from disadvantaged circumstances for 120 years. 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:
Sam Nuernberger
Associate Director, Strategic Communication and Stakeholder Engagement