Bledsoe helps AC students create ‘Brother to Brother’ chapter

Posted Monday, February 20, 2023
Author: Mickey Alvarado

Tyrone Bledsoe, Ph.D., the founder and current CEO-President of SAAB, returned to Adrian College the week of February 13, to help students create a new Brother to Brother [B2B] campus chapter. SAAB is a national organization with over 355 chapters in 41 states. The organization endeavors to instill a “spirit of care,” and enhance the experiences of young males of color in the country.

SAAB originally stood for Student African American Brotherhood.

“We had a brand refresh, hired a firm out of D.C. about two years ago, and we no longer spell out the acronym, it’s just SAAB,” Bledsoe said. “We do allow the option of calling the chapter Brother to Brother.”

SAAB creates and supports school-based chapters of young men supporting each other’s academic success, and helps strengthen their schools and communities. Each chapter structures its work through six functional program committees: Academics; Personal Development; Service; Membership/Public Relations; Equity, Inclusion and Social Cohesion; and Financial Affairs.

“This is just a snapshot of what SAAB does, who we are on a national level,” Bledsoe said when addressing his audience in Adrian College’s Hickman Boardroom on Monday. “We had about seven or eight guys come to our first session yesterday. We need to get that group up to 15 guys, ideally.”

In order to create a group at Adrian College, students need to create a steering committee of at least 15-20 students and two or more staff representatives. They also need to come up with a strategic plan.

Adrian College junior Jalen Adams has been helping create the SAAB chapter and hopes to be its president or vice president. He expects to have enough students joining to easily meet the required numbers, and plans to have enough interest to keep the chapter going for years to come.

“A key thing to this is getting not only juniors and seniors involved, but new incoming students, so when our leaders graduate there is someone coming up behind them to pick up that role,” he said. “Dr. Bledsoe has inspired me since I first met him back in September.” Bledsoe was the guest speaker for Adrian College’s opening convocation. “I’ll never forget it. I first shook his hand and he said, ‘Hey, you shake my hand like you know me,” Adams said.

“He shook my hand like I owed him some money,” Bledsoe said.

“He is just an incredible man,” Adams said. “I always learn something from him and take a piece of what he says and incorporate it into my game every time.”

Bledsoe’s presentation highlighted statistics from Equal Measure about the organization, showing how SAAB members are achievers. Fifty-three percent reported A’s and B’s, while 32% percent reported B’s and C’s. Ninety-five percent of members remained enrolled through the year and 72% were on-track to graduate. Ninety-eight percent of members said they are set on achieving a four-year degree or higher.

SAAB has a national data bank that tracks the progress of all of its members, from middle school to the collegiate level, and its alums.

“The U.S. needs talent,” Bledsoe said. “We have a lot of jobs in our country that people aren’t qualified for. There is a talent gap. Everybody is looking for good talent, and corporations are also looking for diversity. So, certainly, we’re an appealing organization to connect with because we have young men of color. We have partnerships with law firms, banks, energy companies and many other businesses.”

Bledsoe said SAAB’s membership is pretty diverse.

“Our Latino population has grown significantly in the last five years out of Texas, California and Chicago. Now, I’m beginning to get requests, and I may hear from your campus, to do something for young ladies. So, we’re going to be having a big focus group to talk about how to create this kind of evidence for young ladies.”

Bledsoe noted that SAAB’s national mantra is “Saving lives and salvaging dreams.”

“Dr. [Jeffrey] Docking told me again this morning that he is very excited and wants Adrian College to be one of the strongest chapters in the country,” Bledsoe said. “And, having that kind of support from the president, I can tell you, we’re getting ready to make that happen!”

Before transitioning to his role with SAAB, Bledsoe served as Vice President for Student Life and Special Assistant to the President at the University of Toledo. He received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Education degrees from Mississippi State University, and went on to complete a Ph.D. in Counseling and Student Affairs Administration with an emphasis in Counseling Psychology at the University of Georgia. Bledsoe was recognized as Outstanding Doctoral Student in Georgia, and as Outstanding Doctoral Alumnus by the University of Georgia and Mississippi State University.

His work has been featured in the Harvard University Educational Review Journal and recently the College Board awarded him the Dr. Asa G. Hilliard Model of Excellence Award for his considerable work mentoring and supporting African American males in the country.

The Campaign for Black Male Achievement awarded Bledsoe its “Beloved Community Award” for his impact on black males. In 2020, an article in Forbes Magazine cited him as a “Contemporary Inspiration.”

He was recently featured in the national newsletter of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement and deemed a “national treasure” by CEO Shawn Dove. Bledsoe received the Presidential Service Volunteer Award in 2016 for his innovation with SAAB as a best practice in the country, coupled with SAAB’s impact to communities across the nation.

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