Sigma Gamma Rho

Sigma Gamma Rho
Founded November 12, 1922 (1922-11-12)
Butler University
Indianapolis, Indiana
Type Service
Emphasis Sisterhood, Scholarship, and Service
Scope International: USA, Germany,
Canada, Bermuda, Korea,
Virgin Islands, the Bahamas
Mission statement Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority's aim is to enhance the quality of life within the community. Public service, leadership development and education of youth are the hallmark of the organization's programs and activities. Sigma Gamma Rho addresses concerns that impact society educationally, civically, and economically.
Slogan Greater Service, Greater Progress

     Royal Blue

Flower Yellow Tea Rose
Mascot Poodle
Publication Aurora
Chapters 600
Nickname SGRhos, Lady Sigmas, Sigma Women, Sigmas
Headquarters 1000 Southhill Drive, Suite 200
Cary, North Carolina

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. (ΣΓΡ) was founded on November 12, 1922, at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana by seven young educators. It was incorporated within the state of Indiana in December 1922 and became a national collegiate sorority on December 30, 1929, when a charter was granted to the Alpha chapter.

The sorority is a non-profit whose aim is to enhance the quality of life within the community. Public service, leadership development and the education of youth are the hallmark of the organization's programs and activities.

Founded in the midst of segregation, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. is the only sorority of the four historically African-American sororities which comprise the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) established at a predominantly white campus.

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority,Inc. has over 100,000 members with more than 500 undergraduate and alumnae chapters throughout the United States, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Canada, Africa and Korea. Sigma Gamma Rho also supports two affiliates: the Rhoers, a group of young women, and the Philos, women who are friends of the sorority.

The founders

Dorothy Whiteside, Vivian White Marbury, Nannie M. Johnson, Hattie M. Redford and Mary Lou Little

Raised by a family friend because both of her parents were killed when she was three, Founder Little graduated from Shortridge High School in 1915 and received a diploma from the Indianapolis Normal School in 1918. She began her teaching career immediately after graduation. In 1928, Little moved to Los Angeles with her husband and finished her undergraduate training at UCLA. She taught in the Los Angeles School System until her retirement in 1967. The Mary Lou Allison Loving Cup Award is presented at each Boule to the chapter reporting the most successful program.[2]

After graduating from Shortridge High School, Founder Whiteside entered the Indianapolis City Normal School. In 1922, when in training as a cadet teacher, she met the teachers who became her best friends and founders of Sigma Gamma Rho. Ms. Whiteside taught school until 1951 when she retired and later helped her husband to develop a business. She also started her own millinery business and worked with her church and various other organizations. After the death of her husband, she ran their business from 1955 until 1957 and returned to teaching in 1959, where she remained until her retirement in 1970.[2]

Founder Marbury was born March 11, 1900. She attended Shortridge High School and the Indianapolis City Normal School. She earned her BS in Education from Butler University in June 1931 and her Master's from Columbia University in New York City. She was awarded the Butler Medal, the highest alumni honor at Butler University. Her professional career included teaching at Morehouse College in Atlanta and serving as Director of Practice Training of teachers from Butler University and Indianapolis State University. She taught in the Indianapolis School System for nine years. She organized Public School 87, which grew from a 4-room portable school to 18 rooms and 24 teachers, where she was principal for 48 years until her retirement in 1967. She married in 1929 and is the mother of two children. Founder Marbury died on July 29, 2000. She was the last of the seven founders to join Omega Rho. [2]

Founder Johnson was born on June 20, 1904, in Indianapolis, Indiana. She received her BS in 1932 and her MS in 1941 from Butler University. She started as a teacher in 1923 and was eventually promoted to principal of one of the largest elementary schools in Indianapolis at the time. She was also very involved with many clubs and organizations dedicated to community service. Ms. Johnson retired in 1966.[2]

A cum laude graduate of South Bend Central High School, Founder Redford continued her education to receive a B.S from Indiana State Teachers College and a M.S. from Butler University. She also studied at Western Reserve in Cleveland and Indiana University Extension. She taught one year in Terre Haute, and thirty seven years in Indianapolis, IN. She was Grand Epistoleus, Grand Tamiochus, Financial Consultant and received various awards and honors from Sigma Gamma Rho. Plaques are awarded in Ms. Redford's name at each Boule for exhibits of chapter achievements.[2]

Founder Martin was born on July 12, 1900. The youngest of six children, Ms. Martin attended grade school in Indianapolis. She graduated from the Manual Training High School and the City Teachers Normal. She earned her BS in Education from Butler University in June 1943. Ms. Martin taught at Indianapolis Public School 4 for over 25 years. She married twice and was a devoted wife and hard worker in school and the sorority.[2]

A graduate of Shortridge High School and the Indianapolis City Normal School, Founder McClure attended Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. She won the Gregg Scholarship which she planned to use to attend Columbia University, but due to illness, she could not accept the scholarship. McClure was talented in art and she helped to design the sorority pin. Ms. McClure died very young on August 24, 1924.[2][3]

National programs

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. gives its leadership, service, and resources toward removing barriers and inequalities so that all Americans may develop their potential and exercise full citizenship. Through support of human rights legislation, service to and support of grass root individual and community development activities, and through active participation in the programs of affiliate and other organizations, the sorority has shown its commitment to working to improve the quality of the lives and the societies it serves. Sigma Gamma Rho actively participates in the sponsoring of national and international programs designed for the improved welfare of all people.[4]

ACT Against AIDS

The Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI) is $16 million, six-year CDC partnership that harnesses the collective strength of some of the nation's leading organizations to fight HIV in populations hardest hit. The effort brings together a wide range of organizations, including civic, social, civil rights and professional organizations, as well as those in government, education and media. While many AAALI partners have longstanding commitments to fighting HIV in their communities, the initiative provides the critical funding needed to allow each group to make HIV prevention a core component of its day-to-day activities. Each organization uses AAALI funds to support an HIV coordinator who works through the organization's membership networks to disseminate Act Against AIDS campaign materials and HIV prevention services. AAALI is a key component of Act Against AIDS (AAA) – CDC's five-year, $45 million campaign to re-engage every American in the fight against HIV by combating complacency, increasing testing, and raising awareness among communities at risk.[4]

Project Reassurance

The care and protection of children is, first and foremost, a family concern. But when teenagers have babies, the consequences are throughout society. Children born to teenage parents are more likely to be of low birth weight and to suffer from inadequate health care, more likely to leave High School without graduating and more likely to be poor, thus perpetuating a cycle of unrealized potential. As the signature international program for Sigma Gamma Rho, Project Reassurance was originally developed to provide health education, support and nurturing for expectant teen mothers and teens who are parents.

The project has now evolved to focus more on Healthy Choices, Healthy Living and Healthy Generations (H3) to help reduce teen pregnancy through a comprehensive year-round program addressing the factors that lead to teen pregnancy - low self-esteem, diet and economic issues - while also providing support and guidance when it does occur.[4]

Project Wee Savers

Project Wee Savers is designed to develop an awareness of various banking facilities and their available services. The goal of Wee Savers is to allow participants to become knowledgeable of the real life skills of saving and buying stocks and bonds, ranging from ages 6 to 18 years. Participants experience the real life skills of basic investing, setting specific goals attainable through monitoring and mentoring of money and activities.[4]


OPERATION BigBookBag makes available, to selected facilities across the nation, bookbags, notebooks, writing and drawing paper, pencils and pens, dictionaries, thesauri, rulers, glue, construction paper, textbooks, encyclopedia, typewriters, computers and many other needed school items. Made available also is a nationwide tutoring and mentoring program designed for the benefit of the children housed at said facilities.[5]

The effective and overall implementation of OPERATION BigBookBag serves as an invaluable resource to the children by:

  1. Affording children with quick and easy access to reference materials and other studying aids and tools that will help them in their educational endeavors
  2. Providing the children with the means of completing their homework assignments in order that they may remain current and up -to -date on course projects and requirements
  3. Assisting the shelters, centers, schools and hospitals in their efforts to meet some of the educational needs of the children and young adults housed at the facilities.[4]

Sigma Youth Symposium

Sponsored in conjunction with and in commemoration of Sigma Week, the Sigma Youth Symposium focuses on some of the prevalent concerns that negatively impact our youth: drugs, teen violence, abuse, low self-esteem, suicide, teen pregnancy, etc. This annual event is usually held on the second Saturday of March by each Alumnae Chapter.[6]

National Marrow Donor Program

Established in 1992, this initiative was developed to address and reduce the number of African-American deaths due to a lack of sufficient numbers of race appropriate bone marrow donors. The program focuses on the education and recruitment of sorority member, affiliate and community donors. Usually booths are set up during regional and regional conferences.[4]

Hattie McDaniel Cancer Awareness and Health Program

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. is cognizant that African-Americans make up a large proportion of cancer patients. In 2001 it was estimated that 63,500 African American will die from cancer.[7] In addition African-Americans have the highest mortality rate of any ethnic group. As a result, the Sorority is committed to providing education on and active support of early detection as well as research for the prevention and cure of breast, prostate, ovarian, colon and other types of cancers.[8]

Buckle Up America

A safety awareness program which educates citizens about the life saving importance of seatbelt and car seat use.

International programs

Mwanamugimu Essay Contest

Mwanamugimu (Mwah-nah-moo-gee-moo) Essay Contest

The Mwanamugimu Essay contest's primary goal is to provide an opportunity for students to increase their knowledge of the historical and contemporary development of Africa. Its objectives are to provide the target population with opportunities that:

  1. Allow structured ways to learn about Africa
  2. Heighten awareness of African cultural heritage
  3. Improve writing and research skills

The project title, Mwanamugimu, is a proverb from the Republic of Uganda that means "from small acorns come mighty oaks." Chapters sponsor local essay contests that usually include awards programs. Regional contests are also held, with winning essays announced at regional conferences.[4]

Program for Africa

Working in partnership with Africare, for many years Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. has assisted in providing thousands of dollars to purchase grain grinders for African women to help alleviate their back-breaking work. The project focus has now evolved as have the needs to addressing through finances and education HIV/AIDS awareness, education and treatment.[4]


National Education Fund

The mission of the National Education Fund, Inc. ("NEF") is to provide scholarship aid to needy students, both male and female, of all races and to conduct educational programs to enhance the quality of life. The NEF Board of Trustees convenes annually at rotating geographical locations throughout the nation.Scholarships are awarded to high school students, undergraduates, and post-graduate students who can demonstrate financial need.[4]

Seven Pearls Foundation

The Seven Pearls Foundation, Inc. was established December 2004; and received its permanent 501 C-3 status, 2008. The Foundation is headquartered at 1000 South hill Drive, Suite 201, Cary, NC; is registered with the State of North Carolina and the Internal Revenue Service.

The Foundation's mission is based on seven foci:

  1. To protect all real property of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
  2. To be the conduit for receiving corporate and grant funding
  3. To develop strategies that promote a positive service image of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
  4. To develop partnerships that support region initiatives
  5. To support the technology initiatives at headquarters
  6. To identify resources and strategies that will assist in eliminating the mortgage
  7. To host the Life Member Luncheon during the Boule.

The Foundation is governed by the President and CEO, one representative from each of the five Regions of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., a Legal Consultant, and a Treasurer Emeritus. Additionally, the Foundation has identified a corporate group who serve as an extension of the Seven Pearls Board. The corporate group will strengthen the board's credibility in the corporate arena.[4]

Sigma Public Education and Research Foundation (SPEAR)

The Sigma Public Education and Research Foundation (SPEAR) is an Affiliate of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. SPEAR was founded in 1993 as a component of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated during the administration of Past Grand Basileus Corine J. Green. In 1995, SPEAR received its 501(c)3 status and became an autonomous body, with Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. affiliation, with an office registered in Nevada.[9]

SPEAR's mission is to promote social, civic, cultural, economic, and educational progress for vulnerable or at risk families and communities. The mission is fulfilled through community services, public education, advocacy, and social science research.

SPEAR's goals emphasize the development of public education and advocacy programs that will reduce poverty, and improve the quality of life for minorities, women, and children. The foundation focuses on social science research and the direct correlation between the escalation of poverty, illiteracy, moral/value and family disintegration. This 501(c)3 organization seeks funding sources, and provides technical assistance on program management and development. SPEAR was created to increase access of resources to local Community Based Organizations (CBO) for programming of community service activities.

SPEAR encourages CBO's to take advantage of the services SPEAR provides by informing them of the processes involved in acquiring additional funding sources and organizational linkages necessary for the transition of a successful project into an extended program. The information provided encourages CBO's to expand current projects and facilitate additional programming that increased financial support encourages. SPEAR looks forward to fulfilling its mission to provide civic, economic, and educational progress of vulnerable families, and communities. SPEAR strives to facilitate charitable marketplace access, community innovation and improvement, and nonprofit sector experimentation. SPEAR extends full legal, corporate and financial sponsorship to the projects it supports.

SPEAR Programs

Soles for Little Souls

Soles for Little Souls is a SPEAR Foundation program that collects and distributes shoes and/or funds for shoes to select community-based organizations and elementary to high school students.[10]

Leadership and Development Empowering Sisters (LADES)

Through LADES the Rites of Passage Guidance Program will help young women through their own efforts to discover their best talents for personal and social usefulness. The program is a preventive and/or intervention approach to empower youth with the knowledge, skills and abilities to transition successfully from adolescence into adulthood.[10]

National affiliates

Philo affiliates

Since its inception, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. has promoted unity among women and for years many alumnae chapters worked with individuals who were not members of Greek-lettered organizations. These women were organized into auxiliaries that had various names until 1954 when the sorority officially approved the organized affiliate group and accepted the name of "Philo"(meaning Friend) as their official name.[11]

In 1980 the Philos were organized on a national level and have grown to represent hundreds of women organized on a regional level as well. The Philos have contributed countless hours of community service and thousands of dollars to aid Sigma Gamma Rho's aim to enhance the quality of life within every community.[12]

A love for youth and the development of their full potential was the primary motivating factor that inspired Founder Mary Lou Allison Gardner Little to organize Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Young people today face challenges that could never have been imagined years ago, but such challenges provide the sorority with opportunities to carry on the vision of Little through the Rhoers Club.


Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. includes graduate and undergraduate women from a variety of fields. Many of the sorority's alumnae have been recognized as leaders on local, national and international levels in areas such as community activism, entertainment, media, literature, and government.

Notable hazing incidents

The New York Times wrote an article about two serious hazing incidents involving the sorority. In 2008, a pledge at San Jose State University, filed a civil suit against the sorority after being severely beaten, harassed, and threatened to keep the abuse a secret. Four sorority members were arrested and served 90 days in county jail. In 2010 at Rutgers University, six Sigma Gamma Rho women were arrested and charged with a felony after striking one pledge over 200 times which forced her to seek medical attention.[13]

Grand Basilei

Listed below is the International Council of Past Grand Basilei since the 1925 institution of the office.

Notable members

There are several notable women who are members of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.

Television, film and radio



Politics and government

Service and activism

Sports and athletics

Authors, journalists and writers


Science, research and academia

Business and law


More notable members of Sigma Gamma Rho


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