Tyrone Bledsoe: Student African American Brotherhood
My work: Creating a nationwide brotherhood of African-American students committed to lifelong leadership and service.
Check out this video for more on Tyrone's work:
This profile was prepared when Tyrone Bledsoe was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
The New Idea
In 1990, Tyrone Bledsoe founded the Student African-American Brotherhood to create a positive peer community for upwardly mobile young African American men based on a commitment to a spirit of caring. Tyrone recognized that to care for others, one must care for oneself—this is the key to social responsibility. He also knew that those who most credibly communicate and illustrate this message to African American males are their peers. Therefore, SAAB is structured to help young men self-organize around the principle, “I am my brother’s keeper, and together we will rise.”SAAB is distinguished from other minority student programs in three ways. First, its success rate: 86 percent of its members graduate from college, compared to a national average of 42 percent among black men. Next, to become a member one must accept the charge to act as a role model—polite, sincere, hardworking, and encouraging (counter to the pervasive and offensive perception of young black men in America). In addition, members are required to tutor and mentor high school students as a way to nurture the caring spirit that SAAB seeks to instill. Compared to other fraternal organizations appealing to the same population, SAAB maintains strict membership requirements unrelated to entertainment or sports. Campus chapters are formed when a 15 member leadership council gains school endorsement and participates in a 3 month training program—made possible by paid dues. Weekly study groups, business meetings, support of volunteerism and community involvement are also required of all SAAB chapters. Campus chapters must adhere to annual membership requirements to remain part of the national network.