SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Missouri State University (MSU) is expanding its efforts to give equal opportunities to students of color.
To improve the experiences of minority students at MSU, the organization Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB) signed a two-year contract with the university and moved its headquarters into the Park Central Square Office in Downtown Springfield.
MSU said the organization moved from Toledo, Ohio.
“This partnership is going to be critical in advancing racial justice and equality in Southwest Missouri and beyond,” said Clif Smart, the president at MSU.
Smart says he is excited about this new addition.
“The students that commit to that, are by enlarge successful,” said Smart. “Their graduation rates exceed that of the university; their employments exceed that of the university; their students go on to be successful.”
Chief diversity officer, Wes Pratt, says having a mentor can be life-changing.
“They’re facing the same challenges I faced when I was a student,” said Pratt. “So in some respects, I sometimes will talk about Springfield might be 50 years behind, but really the nation is behind in dealing with issues of racial justice, fairness and equity.”
The CEO of SAAB, Tyrone Bledsoe, joined the conference on June 9 online.
“We embrace all young men, regardless of their wealth, regardless of their background,” said Bledsoe. “We don’t discriminate at all, and we are proud of our diversity.”
The Community Foundation of the Ozarks has been helping SAAB since 2015.
“We saw the success that this organization could do to a community, and help that community grow, in terms of those who are underserved and underrepresented in our universities,” said Abe McGull, chair at the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.
Smart says over the next few weeks and months; the university will be rolling out specific actions to make a difference in the lives of underrepresented students, faculty and staff.