Submitted to Branson Globe
A national leader in helping black and Latino young men thrive in college is moving its office to Missouri State University.
The Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB) and Missouri State recently signed a 2-year agreement to house the operation in the Park Central Office Building in downtown Springfield. The university will provide the space and utilities to SAAB at no cost.
“As SAAB embarks upon its 30th anniversary in October, we remain committed to building on our model to assist the educational advancement of young men of color,” SAAB CEO Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe said. “We relish the chance to join the good people in Springfield, especially MSU and the Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO), to take important and necessary steps to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in the city, surrounding region and beyond.
“The spirit of the leadership in the city of Springfield is impressive and contagious.”
The CFO and the Missouri Scholarship and Loan Foundation provided funding for SAAB’s relocation from Toledo, Ohio.
“We’ve had the privilege of supporting Dr. Bledsoe and his organization for several years,” said Brian Fogle, president and chief executive officer of CFO. “We see the difference the Brother to Brother program has made in the success of under-represented students in Springfield and across the country.
“This also benefits our state. SAAB can focus on expanding additional programs in other higher education institutions in Missouri.”
Founded in 1990, SAAB (also referred to as Brother to Brother) has a national network of more than 250 chapters on middle school, high school, college and university campuses in 39 states. It turns a key barrier to minority male achievement – lack of a strong support system – into a major strength.
Its cause is threefold:
Ensure that young men of color throughout the nation have the education-to-career support they need to achieve lives of purpose and success.
Build and sustain strong bonds among young men of all backgrounds.
Enable young men of color to be recognized for their talent, drive and contributions to society.
“Our university and the city have enthusiastically embraced SAAB and our local chapter, ‘Bridge Springfield: Brother to Brother (B2B),’ which was established in 2014,” said H. Wes Pratt, chief diversity officer at Missouri State. “As one SAAB student leader put it, ‘We are all about caring for each other’s success.’”
According to an evaluation by Equal Measure, a firm that consults with organizations on ways to create social change, SAAB students:
Persist from their freshman to sophomore years at a rate of 80%, nearly double the rate of black and Latino males nationally.
Graduate from 2- or 4-year colleges at a rate of 86%.
More than 80% reported that their college experience was better because of the organization.
“Missouri Scholarship and Loan Foundation is proud to support SAAB’s important and timely work of increasing higher education attainment by black males as it moves its national headquarters to the state of Missouri,” said Melissa Findley, executive director of the Missouri Scholarship and Loan Foundation.