Coming Back to Pay it Forward

OTHC Seniors with Cap and Gown

CBT Catalyzes Greek Fundraising for Our Time Has Come Scholarship Program

While alumni look forward to Syracuse University’s Coming Back Together (CBT) reunions for the joy and fellowship of time spent with fellow alumni of color, it’s also an opportunity to pay it forward and ease the burden for current and future underrepresented students.

Traditionally, CBT has provided the impetus for increased alumni giving in support of the Our Time Has Come Scholarship (OTHC) Fund, both by individuals and groups, led by the philanthropy of Syracuse’s Black and Latino Greek-letter organizations. At CBT 2021, the Office of Multicultural Advancement raised $1.29 million for OTHC scholarships, led by the endowments raised by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. ($800,000) and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. ($300,000). Currently, OTHC endowments total $13 million. The Office of Multicultural Advancement has set the ambitious but attainable fundraising goal of reaching $15 million by CBT 2024. Here, Greek organizations share how they are contributing to those efforts:

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. continues to focus on collaborative efforts to increase reach, boost engagement and spread the word about the importance of scholarship legacy giving that can introduce new potential donors who may turn into lifetime supporters. Supporting education is the sorority’s oldest program of service. “The members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., always have a focus on service, so we feel that contributing to OTHC is a natural fit,” says Sharon Brangman ’81.

The Iota Upsilon chapter was the first Greek organization at Syracuse University to endow both an undergraduate and graduate scholarship through the OTHC fund. Committee discussion is underway to incorporate fundraising efforts in conjunction with the chapter’s 50th anniversary in 2025. “It is our hope to present a minimum of $50k in cash by CBT 2024,” says Sonya Grant ’94.

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. gathered in April 2023, as the Delta Zeta chapter celebrated the 50th anniversary of its reactivation with a reunion event at Lubin House. In keeping with the organization’s mission to be servants of the community, Delta Zeta alumni marked the occasion by presenting a $100,000 check to Rachel Vassel ’91, G’21, associate vice president of multicultural advancement, to add to the existing Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Endowment within the OTHC Scholarship Fund. Fundraising efforts continue—Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. will celebrate 75 years on the Syracuse University campus in spring 2024, followed by CBT in September. “We are formulating our OTHC fundraising goals related to those events,” says Rob Lewis ’81. “The cause hits close to home and we have a mission to pay it forward.”

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. has been the pacesetter for OTHC group fundraising, having met and exceeded its 10-year goal of raising $1 million for the Delta Sigma Theta OTHC Endowment Fund in conjunction with the chapter’s 50th anniversary in September. Not content to rest on its laurels, alumni leadership is thoughtfully formulating next steps, including its fundraising goal for CBT next fall and beyond. “Being the first Black Greek-letter organization at Syracuse University to establish a fund of this size, we need to be thoughtful about our next goal, inclusive of our strategic planning fundraising committee and all of our members,” says Candice Carnage ’90, co-chair of the 50th-anniversary steering committee and a member of the Office of Multicultural Advancement Advisory Council. “These are uncertain times for many students. We wanted to be tactical and establish long-term, ongoing financial support to ensure successful outcomes for first-generation students or those with limited resources who make it to Syracuse University.”

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. broke its own fundraising goals for CBT 2021. Shortly after alumni created the Delta Beta Executive Alumni Foundation (DBEAF) in 2013, they set a goal to raise $50,000 by CBT 2020. As they were closing in on that goal, a challenge was issued from an anonymous donor—if the group could raise an additional $50,000 the donor would match that amount, bringing the Kappa’s gift, and their endowment, to $150,000. That goal was reached and then some. CBT was delayed a year due to the pandemic. By 2021, the Kappa Alpha Psi Endowment had grown to $300,000.

Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Inc. was Syracuse University’s first Latino fraternity and the University’s first Latino organization to create an endowed scholarship. “That $100,000 fundraising goal provided our chapter an opportunity to engage in a more meaningful philanthropic manner, where we are building a lasting gift that fits within our fraternal motto of Para Siempre,” says Jesse Mejia ’97. “For CBT next fall, our objective is to double our initial pledge commitment.”

The chapter was founded at Syracuse in 1991. Alumni have created the 1991 Society to encourage brothers to give at a higher level. At the same time, the group is working to develop a philanthropic mindset among younger brothers by promoting participation and deemphasizing the size of their gift amount until they have reached a point in their career to give at a more meaningful level. “Promoting OTHC has proven to be critical to the success of our BIPOC communities, especially after the Supreme Court has ruled against affirmative action,” says Mejia. “For our fraternity, supporting our Latino students has garnered a heightened level of urgency to help them graduate without having to bear substantial student debt and allowing them to focus on giving back to the rising generation of Latino scholars.”

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Kappa Chapter continues to build upon its OTHC endowment fund. “It has been clear to our donors that helping to remove financial challenges gives underrepresented students a better chance to succeed,” says Derrick Hostler ’85. “There are already many obstacles they’ll need to navigate, and removing the one that can be burdensome to students and their families creates a less stressful mindset that allows them to focus on education and be productive contributors to the SU environment.”

The organization’s goal is for continued growth and expansion of the principal base amount, to increase the level of financial support to underrepresented students attending Syracuse.  “The cost for higher education is increasingly rising and becoming, for some, cost prohibitive,” says Michael Blackshear ’91, a member of the Syracuse University Board of Trustees, Office of Multicultural Advancement Advisory Council, and the Whitman Advisory Council. “With the recent Supreme Court decision making Affirmation Action unconstitutional as an admission criterion, we have been forced, as donors, to better understand and assess the long-term impact on diverse enrollment at Syracuse. OTHC is one very important way that we can support and retain diverse students on campus.”

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. is very excited to have created an endowed OTHC scholarship as an organization for the first time and looks forward to celebrating during CBT 2024. “It was a wonderful collective effort from our Sigma alumni brothers that created a new culture of giving,” says Michael Barbosa ’96.  “We are looking forward to finally seeing the University award our first Phi Beta Sigma scholar and continuing to build on increasing our fundraising efforts for additional scholarship opportunities for undergraduate students.”

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. was established just two years after the first CBT reunion and CBT 2024 coincides with the chapter’s 40th anniversary on campus. To commemorate the occasion, the alumnae of the Theta Tau Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. established an OTHC endowment fund with a goal to raise $100,000 in gifts and pledges by CBT 2024. “It’s in our DNA to give back.  This effort is important because it allows us to pool our resources to establish a lasting gift that will help students for decades to come,” says Margo Lettsome ’96. “While many want to give back, the six-figure goal is daunting so we tailored communications to convey that gifts can be paid over several months or several years. This has allowed our members to be as generous as they can. CBT is an excellent vehicle to promote this fundraising because members will get to engage with current scholarship recipients and hear, firsthand, how our gifts make a difference. We believe CBT will act as a catalyst to re-engage members who have not been involved for many years and inspire them to become and remain active Syracuse alumni and, hopefully, recurring donors.”

Sigma Lambda Upsilon Sorority, Inc. celebrated 30 years on the Syracuse University campus in 2022. In conjunction with that anniversary, alumni of the Eta Chapter launched a fundraising drive to create an OTHC Scholarship, hitting the $100,000 endowment level in September 2022. “As the first Latina sorority at Syracuse University, this is an important legacy,” says Rosann Santos ’95, who helped lead the fundraising effort. “Because some of the gifts were made as multi-year pledges, the endowment won’t pay out until we have $100,000 paid, so we continue to fundraise in hopes we can start giving out the scholarship sooner rather than later.”

Zeta Phi Beta, Sorority, Inc. Pi Iota Chapter has launched an OTHC Scholarship Endowment, initiated by Tamekia Flowers-Ball ’97 and LaShon Pitter ’97. “The OTHC Program has been a lifeline for countless underrepresented students, offering financial support and mentorship,” says Flowers-Ball. “Through our endowment, we aim to ensure that future generations of underrepresented students, particularly members of Zeta Phi Beta, have the resources and opportunities they deserve. Together, we’re breaking barriers and fostering diversity, equipping students to thrive and make a difference in their communities and beyond.”

CBT 2024 coincides with the chapter’s 45th anniversary year. “In recognition of this anniversary, we aim to triple our fundraising efforts to surpass our goal by September 2024,” she says.

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