Alumni from two chapters of North Carolina Central University’s National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) have established permanent legacies at the university by creating endowment funds for student scholarships.
Members of the Tau Psi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. and of Alpha Lambda Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. – each part of the “Divine Nine” group of black Greek letter organizations – chose to create the funds as a special way of giving back to NCCU. Through annual gifts, the funds can provide a vehicle for ongoing alumni support.
“We are hopeful that once everyone is aware of what the brothers of the Tau Psi chapter have done to assist NCCU, other fraternities and sororities on campus will follow our lead and establish their own endowments,” said Floyd Ferebee, Ph.D., of Durham, who was initiated into the Tau Psi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi in fall 1963.
The Tau Psi Scholarship Endowment was initiated in 1992 as the first endowment established by alumni initiated into NCCU’s NPHC chapters. Since its inception, the fund has provided essential support to NCCU students.
The Tau Psi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. dates to 1932 on the NCCU campus. Ferebee, a former NCCU English professor, said the idea for the fund was developed during planning for the chapter’s 60th-year reunion. Fundraising efforts began with the goal of eventually establishing a scholarship endowment to assist deserving NCCU students. Donations are accepted from Tau Psi initiates, as well as friends of the chapter.
As with many Greek letter organizations, reunions are very important to Tau Psi members. By the chapter’s 70th anniversary in 2002, the group had collected more than $12,000. By 2006, the endowment began producing scholarships for NCCU students.
Also in 2006, NCCU Board of Trustees member and university alumnus Harold Epps joined with alumnus Benjamin Hill to co-chair the scholarship fundraising committee. Alumnus Robert Woods became the scholarship committee chair. Through their efforts and leadership, the group was able to increase the fund’s value to $100,000 by the chapter’s 80th reunion celebration in 2011. During the celebration, another goal was set to increase the scholarship fund to at least $200,000. To date, the group has raised $150,000, with more than $20,000 awarded in scholarships to students.
“This endowment reinforces that education is the primary way for advancement; it also emphasizes our commitment to scholarship,” Epps said. “We hope other organizations will begin to develop endowments, not only at NCCU but at other HBCUs, as well.” Ferebee agreed.
“We are NCCU alumni, motivated by our love for NCCU and our desire to see it further its representation as one of the leading institutions of higher education in North Carolina and the nation.” he added.
Reflecting the momentum of the Tau Psi endowment, the idea of establishing an endowment in the name of the Alpha Lambda Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. was introduced in 2012 by three NCCU initiates of the chapter – Jemma Boler, Dianne Pledger and Pandora Frazier.
Previous fundraising efforts by a cohort of the alumnae had been used to help the son of a Alpha Lambda member who passed away. Looking for ways to continue their fundraising efforts, Boler led the group in setting up the endowment fund, with support from 33 individuals who were initiated in the chapter in 1983. The fund was officially established on January 8, 2014 with a goal of meeting the NCCU Scholarship Endowment minimum requirement of $25,000 by October 2018. If the group meets their goal by October 2016, they will be three years ahead of scheduled progression for the fund.
As 150 of the chapter’s alumnae members celebrated the sorority’s 85th anniversary on July 29, 2016, donations flooded in to reach the fundraising goal to be eligible for a matching grant of $25,000. The anniversary celebration was an opportunity to allow alumnae to raise awareness of the endowment and increase donations towards the scholarship. They hope to reach the goal by 2018. Some members have pledged monthly support, and alumnae celebrating initiation anniversaries have donated lump sums to raise the total. Some members also have enlisted companies to match donated funds.
“We are thankful to our supporters, friends, family, businesses and most of all our Alpha Lambda alumnae sorors,” said Boler, a 1983 initiate.
“We remain strong in the principles of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s Educational Programmatic Thrust, and we have fulfilled those ideals with this endowed scholarship. We challenge the other NPHC organizations to make the commitment and support NCCU.”