“Many studies have shown that, nationwide, university retention and graduation rates are lowest among male students of color,” said Keith Champagne, Central Washington University associate dean of student development. “CWU has a stated goal to be the destination for all men of color seeking a quality, best-buy education in an environment that supports academic excellence.”
The success of CWU’s ongoing outreach efforts in that regard will be discussed during a special presentation on Thursday, February 9, at noon at the Yakima Downtown Rotary, which is being held in observance of Black History Month.
Leading the presentation will be Tyrone Bledsoe, founder of the national Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB) organization.
“This program is facilitating academic and professional success among young people, especially Latino and African American males,” Champagne stated. “It gives them something to aspire to other than street life and it motivates them to make a difference in their communities.”
Bledsoe himself helped CWU establish its chapter of Brother 2 Brother—which is affiliated with SAAB—in 2015. Central’s B2B chapter is now among more than 200 at universities and schools across the United States.
“We thought, since we have the first chapter in the Pacific Northwest, and that Dr. Bledsoe has been out here several times, let’s introduce him to the Yakima Valley,” Champagne explained. “Who best to explain what SAAB/Brother 2 Brother is than founder and chief executive officer. He’ll give a history and overview of SAAB/Brother 2 Brother and discuss the partnerships he has with different cities, and elementary, middle and high schools, and colleges.”
Champagne pointed out that interest has been expressed by Yakima community leaders about establishing B2B chapters at schools there.
“We’re hoping to see a chapter at the middle schools and the high schools,” Champagne said. “They would connect very well with some of the other programs that we offer here that look to have an impact on young people in the Yakima Valley. We want, especially men of color, to see that we have a firm commitment to diversity and to facilitating their success,” Champagne said. “When they think about an institution, they should think about Central.”
In conjunction with the Rotary presentation, Bledsoe will also meet with about 450 invited Yakima School District students, school officials, and civic and business leaders at the Henry Beauchamp Community Center later on Thursday.
The Yakima events are being sponsored by CWU’s Brother 2 Brother and companion SISTERS program, along with its Male Success Initiative, and the Office of Student Involvement, Center for Leadership and Community Engagement, and Africana and Black Studies.
In 2016, CWU was one of just two schools in the state—and 14 across the country—to be recognized as a “national role model” for its commitment to diversity by Minority Access, Inc., a national organization that honors diversity in academic access and achievement.
In addition, for the last two years, CWU has also received the prestigious INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award. Presented annually by INSIGHT Into Diversity, the nation’s largest and longest-running diversity-focused higher education magazine. It is based on initiatives, programs and outreach, student recruitment, retention and completion; along with faculty and staff hiring practices.
Media contact: Robert Lowery, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, 509-963-1487, Robert.Lowery@cwu.edu
Photo: Tyrone Bledsoe, founder of the national Student African American Brotherhood
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