|Miami, FL — Richard Lee Snow, Executive Director/COO, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. (left); Charles Matthews, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and former Big Brother of the Year; and Dale Long, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. member, six-time Big Brother and former Big Brother of the Year, take time during Big Brothers Big Sisters’ National Conference in Miami to discuss new fraternity partnership, aimed at helping African-American boys succeed.
Three of the nation’s largest African-American fraternities – Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. – have joined with the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) organization to help Black boys succeed. The fraternities, which collectively represent 250,000 college educated-men, see their involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters as mentors and advocates for African-American youth as part of a catalyst that might begin to break the negative cycles of crime, violence and low academic achievement, BBBS officials say.
Many of the children mentored through Big Brothers Big Sisters’ nearly 400 agencies are from single-parent families. According to BBBS, research finds that children with mentors are more likely than their peers to stay in school, avoid violence, reject illegal activities and have positive relationships with their families and others.
“When you look at those people who really need mentoring the most, the majority are African-American, and the majority of those are Black males,” said Richard Lee Snow, executive director of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. “We feel as a national leadership organization that we need to step up to the plate and bridge this gap that continues to grow of our young boys not having role models and mentors.”
BBBS says that the collaborative effort will expand Big Brothers Big Sisters’ nearly 20-year national partnership with Alpha Phi Alpha. Together, the fraternities will work with the organization to develop programs to encourage members and friends in their large professional, personal and social networks to also support the BBBS’ expansive network of volunteer mentors for youth.
“We recognize that most of the Black boys who are without a father in their household probably need someone who looks like them to be available to them. We see it as part of our responsibility to reach out to members of our communities and help,” said Charles Johnson Jr., communications director for Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.
The fraternities agreed that officially joining in a national initiative with the BBBS was a natural fit.
“Everyone is familiar with BBBS. They’ve been around forever and most of our organizations have relationships with BBBS,” said Snow. “Our board decided that this is something that we should rally behind with the other Black fraternities. We believe that the two other Black Greek letter organizations – Phi Beta Sigma, which has a tradition of mentoring through its Sigma Beta Club, and Iota Phi Theta, will come on board after their upcoming national conventions.”
The fraternity members, say BBBS officials, will urge those in their networks to become Big Brothers; donate funds to the charity and provide enrichment programs for Little Brothers and boys who are ready to be matched.
“This landmark partnership greatly strengthens our engagement in African-American communities and will be significant in helping us serve many more children, particularly growing numbers of boys whose moms are seeking our help,” said Judy Vredenburgh, president and chief executive officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
Statistical data show Black males make up more than 70 percent of the total U.S. prison population, and account for only 6 percent of the U.S. population and less than half of Black boys graduate from high school in four years.
This partnership, said Johnson, presents to us one of the best and greatest opportunities to be of service in a way where a metric can be derived.
“A metric that begins to show how impactful we are collectively as fraternal organizations. We expect to see a turnaround in the number of children who are active in gangs or criminal activity. Maybe not in the first year or the second year, but we do expect to make an impact,” Johnson said.
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