Pratt Center Leader recognized for work with youth

A campus stalwart, Jarrett Pratt, M.Ed., director of Student Success at The Pratt Center at Cleveland State University, has been named to the 2023 Sawubona Class: 30 Under 40. 

According to the CSU press release, Pratt received the honor at the Pan African Network of the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) conference held in New Orleans, Louisiana.

In the ‘Campus Partnership and Collaboration’ category Pratt was recognized for focusing on change makers who work towards enriching the community experience. In Pratt’s case, the community centers around students who have aged out of or spent time in foster care.

“An innovation specialist and change agent,” the release states, “Pratt embodies PAN’s advocacy, campus partnerships, civic engagement, mentorship, programming, research, and scholarship. He and the Center’s “Fostering Success and Leadership” programs and trained Student Navigators to specialize in various academic-related subjects to aid CSU students with high-quality support.”

Most CSU students may have never heard of the Pratt Center. Step inside, and one finds a community like no other. Created to help foster kids succeed in college, the Center offers support, group activities, and anything else one might need. 

The emancipated youth that the Pratt Center serves are just as capable of receiving an education as students from well-off areas. But unlike those students, money is a major obstacle. With a traditional family dynamic, it is easier for emancipated students to be aware of the sauce. So the Pratt Center steps up to fill in the cracks, offering assistance with books, meal plans, housing, tuition gaps, and even full-ride scholarships for the students of the Sullivan-Deckard Scholarship program. 

“We’re never going to be able to completely dissolve the need for what we provide,” Pratt said in an interview at the end of 2021. “But if we can get to the eighth, ninth, and tenth graders, get familiar with what they’re curious about, help them understand that they’re not hopeless or lost, and we can help them see that there is a community for them that knows where they’re coming from, where they’re at. That kind of intervention offers promise… We all want to see them graduate and succeed.”

The Pratt Center allows students from foster care to earn the high-quality education they are capable of. It’s not easy, with strict requirements and standards. But the sense of community is strong, and the mission, while challenging, is every bit worth it. 

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