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Our Why

Established in 2024, driven by our dedication to equity and excellence, the Black, Educated, Successful, Thriving (B.E.S.T.) Young Male Enrichment Program is committed to transforming the narrative for Black males in education, career, and beyond, creating a future where every Black male not only survives but thrives.

Meet the Team

 James A. Cooper., MA - Founder & CEO

James A. Cooper Jr., MA (He/Him/His), Founder & CEO of B.E.S.T., boasts a diverse professional background spanning entrepreneurship, career and college advising, workforce development, recruitment and retention strategic planning, leadership management, student affairs, instructing, and diversity, equity, and inclusion practices. Alongside his role at B.E.S.T., James is also the founder and CEO of James Cooper Consulting LLC., a company with a mission of empowering people with the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to accomplish their desired career goals or execute positive workforce transformation within their organization.


His educational credentials include a B.S. in Management and Marketing and a M.A. in Organization, Leadership, Policy, and Development. As a scholar practitioner, his past research topics have focused on access and utilization of career exploration/development resources by underrepresented/underserved populations and recruitment/retention programs focused on students, staff, and faculty of color.

Born in Liberia, West Africa, James Cooper Jr. immigrated to the United States in 2001 with his family and grew up in Brooklyn Park, MN.

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Education has always been a central value in James’ life, and he is deeply committed to empowering others to reach their full potential. With a holistic coaching style rooted in empowerment, James utilizes a social cognitive career and asset based lens to support others. He is often credited as a strategizer, implementer, and connector. He thrives in his ability to bring ideas into fruition and in streamlining process improvements. 

Beyond his entrepreneurial endeavors, James actively contributes to the community as a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., 100 Black Men Twin Cities, and Urban League Twin Cities Young Professionals.


James lives by the motto that as we rise, we must bring others with us. This guiding principle was, and continues to be, the driving force behind the establishment of B.E.S.T.

Karl O. Benson - Vice President of Development

Karl O. Benson is a seasoned leader known for his strategic prowess and business acumen. With a passion for innovation and collaboration, he drives organizational growth by identifying opportunities, crafting effective strategies, and leading transformative initiatives. Through his leadership, Karl enhances operational efficiency, revenue streams, and customer satisfaction.


His diverse experience spans leadership roles in major corporations and startups, where he excels in fostering collaboration and building relationships with high-performing teams. Karl's market expertise enables him to make informed decisions, ensuring long-term business sustainability and competitiveness.


A dedicated lifelong learner, he actively participates in various industry events to stay current with emerging trends. Committed to making a positive impact, Karl seeks to collaborate with like-minded professionals for sustainable growth.

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Program Coordinator - Coming Soon!

Board of Directors

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