More than 22,500 members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (AKA) gathered in Atlanta on July 10 at the 67th annual international convention’s public meeting to honor community leaders and contribute $250,000 to UNCF to support deserving students in making it to and through college. The presentation was made by AKA’s international president, Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson, L.H.D., to UNCF’s president and CEO, Dr. Michael L. Lomax.
Wilson leads the nation’s first Greek-letter organization established by African American women, which was founded at Howard University in 1908. One of her platforms during her four-year tenure as president is educational enrichment, specifically including support to HBCUs. Wilson is a graduate of Benedict College and Clark Atlanta University, two historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) supported by UNCF, and is a UNCF board member.
“This contribution, and all the contributions that have come before from this great sorority—to a total of more than $4 million—represents not only an investment,” said Lomax, “but an extraordinarily generous investment, in better futures for our students, and through their success, for the college-educated professionals and citizens they will become, for the communities where they will settle and which they will serve, and indeed, for our country and the world we live in. We are beyond grateful to the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha for their continued support of our mission and for Ms. Wilson’s vision to support the historic institutions that helped shape her as a leader.”
UNCF’s partnership with AKA has spanned 40 years, as donations have poured in from many of the sorority’s 993 chapters during that time. Since 1982, AKA’s international president has served on UNCF’s Board of Directors. As each president’s four-year term ended, her successor has been nominated and elected to the board. During AKA’s inaugural term with UNCF’s board, the organization donated $1 million to UNCF. Wilson was elected to UNCF’s board in 2014, preceded by Carolyn House Stewart, Esq., AKA president from 2010 to 2014.
“As partners we have sent hundreds of thousands of African Americans to and through college, and on to careers,” said Lomax. “Much like each of the AKA members—all college-educated women, many with two or more degrees—who, through AKA, have returned to your communities to ‘Launch New Dimensions of Service, celebrate a Legacy of Sisterhood’ and ignite ‘Worldwide Impact.’ Thank you for all that each of you do.”
At the AKA public meeting, more than a dozen leaders were honored for their work embodying the sorority’s five program targets: educational enrichment, health promotion, family strengthening, environmental ownership, and global impact. Among the honorees was Dr. Katherine Johnson, an HBCU graduate, 81-year member of AKA and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. A major film called “Hidden Figures” will be released next year telling her story as one of the leading black women scientists with NASA. Also during the public meeting, civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) galvanized the audience around the importance of voting, and Tim King, founder of the impactful Chicago network of all-male charter schools, Urban Prep Academies, was honored for his work in education.
In addition to its contribution to UNCF, AKA donated $25,000 to the Tom Joyner Foundation to support the sorority’s Think HBCU℠ initiative. Over the years, Joyner’s foundation has raised more than $65 million in support of HBCUs.
“There has never been a more relevant time than right now for HBCUs,” Joyner told the crowd, as he urged them to donate from their mobile phones to their favorite HBCU.
To learn more about scholarships offered through the Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Foundation, Inc., visit www.akaeaf.org.
Source: Ashlei Stevens, UNCF Communications