Building a Culture of Success
African-American men find new paths to academic achievement through SAAB
The MCTC chapter of Student African American Brotherhook (SAAB) received a “Stellar Chapter” award at the SAAB National Conference held March 30-31 in Indianapolis, IN. About 10 out of the more than 260 chapters that exist across the nation received the award, and with the MCTC SAAB chapter in its first year of existence, this is a great honor.
“I am continually impressed with the progress and work of the MCTC SAAB Initiative in their first year of existence,” says Dr. Bledsoe, CEO and founder of the Student African American Brotherhood, which has been in existence for 21 years.
The MCTC chapter of SAAB—the first in Minnesota—was formed in the fall of 2011 as an initiative of the College and is designed to increase retention and graduation rates for African-American students. Compared to their white peers, male African-American students are far less likely to graduate from a post-secondary institution. SAAB is helping to turn the tide.
“We want to take a holistic approach to support their academic success and character development,” says Jesse Mason, MCTC’s director of the African American Male Educational Empowerment Program. “And we want to prepare them for their careers.”
Since last fall, more than 100 MCTC students have applied to be a part of the program. Members take part in weekly “study jams,” and have access to mentoring programs, leadership training, and computer, math and writing skills institutes.
SAAB has rigorous expectations for its members. Students are required to complete an application and an academic plan, as well as a five-year personal development plan for their future. Mason says setting the bar high from the outset has helped students make a deeper commitment to the program, to themselves, and to their SAAB peers. “We have to create a culture to which the students can belong and invest,” he says. “We want them not only to feel like they’re getting some benefits, but also that they can give to others.”
Louis Fobb, president of the chapter, says he’s been particularly appreciative of the opportunities that SAAB has given him to work with faculty and staff on a one-to-one basis. Such relationships, he says, will be useful not only as he works toward his academic goals, but also as he moves forward in his career.
But perhaps even more important, he says, is that SAAB gives many black students who might otherwise feel isolated a sense of belonging and purpose. “I care about my GPA, and I also care about the GPA of other students who are part of SAAB,” Fobb says. “We care about each other and we want to see each other excel.”
Fobb says that SAAB’s value goes well beyond the academic and career opportunities. “SAAB feels like a community,” he says. “Through SAAB, we can transform ourselves to be better human beings for ourselves, our families and our communities.”