Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority (1922- )

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Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. (SGRho), one of the four
college sororities for African American women, was founded by seven public
school teachers at Butler University in Indianapolis,
Indiana on November 12, 1922.  SGRho is thus the only Greek-letter
organization founded by university graduates rather than undergraduates.  It is also the only black Greek-letter
sorority founded outside of Howard
.  Sorority founders established the first
undergraduate chapter in 1929 at Butler

Today Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority has more 90,000 members in
500 alumnae and undergraduate chapters across the United
States, in Bermuda, the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Germany,
and South Korea.  It is headquartered in Cary, North Carolina.

Prominent SGRho members include Hattie McDaniel, the first
African American to win an Academy Award (1940), actress Louise Beavers, singer
and actress Marilyn McCoo, actress Anna Maria Horsford, author Alice Childress,
Carolyn Tyler Guidry, the second elected female Bishop of the African Methodist
Episcopal (AME) Church, and Corrine Brown, U.S. Congresswoman from Florida.

The sorority’s mission is to “enhance the quality of life
within the community.” Public service, leadership development, and
education of youth are the hallmarks of the organization’s programs and
activities.  SGRho’s programs include a
National Education Fund which provides scholarships to male and female students
of all racial backgrounds.  Its Project
Reassurance Program helps care for low-birth weight infants born to teenage
mothers.  Project Reassurance also provides
education about the importance of pre- and post-natal care and child

Project Africare provides microloans and grants to African
women to purchase equipment to help them build businesses while Project Wee
Savers encourages children between the ages of six and 18 to become financially
literate by learning about the importance of saving and of purchasing stocks
and bonds.  The Mwanamugimu Essay Contest
is designed to encourage students to increase their awareness of African
history and of contemporary developments on the continent. One of the
sorority’s most ambitious programs, the Sigma Public Education and Research
Foundation (SPEAR), addresses black family disintegration through education and
financial assistance. The sorority’s health initiatives include the National
Bone Marrow Donor Program and the Cancer Awareness Program while the Sigma
Youth Symposium addresses the problems of black inner city youth including
drugs, teen violence, teen pregnancy, low self-esteem, and suicide.

Finally, SGRho’s most recent initiative, Project BigBookBag,
donates book bags, school supplies, dictionaries, computers, and other school
needs to classrooms and youth facilities across the nation. Sorority members
also sponsor tutoring and mentor programs designed to help children in inner
city homes.  Project BigBookBag also assists
schools and shelters in addressing the educational needs of these children.


Lawrence C. Ross, Jr., The Divine Nine: The History of African-American Fraternities and Sororities in America (New York: Kensington, 2000); Daniel Soyer, "Fraternities and Sororities," Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (New York: Macmillan Library Reference, 1996); Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated, 2001-2008,