The Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB): Building a positive peer community based on a community support
In any given week, if you were to visit certain college campuses across the country, you might encounter a group of young African-American and Latino male students in a meeting. At first, your attention might be drawn to the fact that all of the students were wearing a shirt and tie. While notable, the student’s attire is not what would likely leave the biggest impression on you. After observing the business-like manner in which the young men ran their meeting and hearing the students talk about ways to be successful, you would realize that you had just observed a powerful example of what can be accomplished when young men work together on their goals. For these young men, the goal is to receive their college degree and continue to make their mark in the world – in the workforce or by furthering their graduate or professional education. These young men are members of the Student African American Brotherhood, or SAAB.
SAAB is an academic mentorship program for African-American and Latino young men. Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe founded SAAB in 1990 at Georgia Southwestern State University, as a response to the educational statistics that consistently showed that African-American and Latino men graduated college at lower rates than their White counterparts. From its inception, SAAB’s goal has been to increase college graduation rates for African-American and Latino males by helping to create a positive peer environment on students’ school campuses.
The organization helps its members excel academically, socially, culturally, and spiritually, and fosters a commitment to civic engagement through its chapters’ emphasis on community service and mentoring. SAAB uses a multi-faceted approach to mentoring by promoting relationships between peers as well as faculty advisor-student mentoring and older student-to-younger student mentoring. Headquartered at the University of Toledo for the past five years, SAAB has grown from its founding chapter at Georgia Southwestern State University to more than 200 chapters at the middle school, high school, and collegiate levels.
As SAAB’s leadership establishes new chapters across the country, it recognizes a need for program effectiveness data to share with its stakeholders including funders, participating universities, and researchers. With funding from the Lumina Foundation, SAAB engaged OMG Center to help it build its organizational capacity to collect data on program effectiveness, and to evaluate SAAB’s impact on college access and success for African-American and Latino males.
In 2009, OMG Center conducted site visits to three of SAAB’s collegiate chapters to learn more about SAAB at an organizational level, gain insight, and record the individual stories of the students who are the heart and soul of the chapters. Based on our research, OMG worked with SAAB national leadership to develop a data collection system that SAAB chapters will learn to use as part of their daily work.