Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., is a nonprofit organization with over 1,000 collegiate and alumni chapters throughout the United States and internationally. Each chapter focuses on the organization’s Five Point Programmatic Thrust. These five points aim to strengthen Africa American families and communities through programs in economic development, educational development, international awareness and involvement, physical and mental health and political awareness and involvement.
Previously known as the San Bernardino Alumnae Chapter, the San Bernardino Riverside Area Alumnae Chapter was chartered in 1959. Following the model of its sister chapters, it is comprised of college-educated women who are deeply engaged in public service and the development of its members. The organization’s programs focus on Riverside and San Bernardino counties, primarily serving Black communities. SBRAAC is one of the largest chapters in the Inland Empire with over 75 members.
“Social action is the backbone of our sorority,” said Erica Shorts, the chapter’s president. “The first Delta chapter was there advocating for women’s rights.”
While Delta Sigma Theta is known for its advocacy work, the organization also has in-depth services for youth. The chapter offers the Dr. Shabazz Delta Academy for girls age 11 to 14, as well as Growing and Empowering Myself Successfully to girls age 14 to 18.
Partnering with a local fraternity chapter, Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence is offered to young men. The organization also provides annual scholarships for area high school seniors.
“Delta has a reputation of always doing the work,” said Irene Bryant, the chapter’s chair of grants. “When it comes to our commitment, we are in there fighting for our youth, making positive impacts to their lives, identifying disparities and engaging in advocacy.”
Partnering with other organizations, the chapter also supplies donations to those in need. The chapter supports several shelters for women who are victims of domestic violence and has donated 80 containers of laundry detergent. Alumnae also create bags with necessities to give out to homeless individuals and work with San Bernardino County to assist in stuffing over 5,000 backpacks for youth.
SBRAAC’s annual budget is funded by grants, chapter dues and support from the organization’s national foundation. The chapter also holds fundraisers, but these have been hampered in recent years by COVID-19 restrictions.
Recently, the chapter received a grant from the Black Equity Initiative through the Inland Empire Community Foundation. Funds from the grant are supporting the chapter’s work in advocating to elected officials for the implementation of programs focused on social justice for the African American Community.
Collaborating with five other chapters in the region, the ladies attended Board Supervisors’ meetings in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. They then had meetings with supervisors, advocating for solutions to human trafficking, homelessness, increased voter registration, and racial disparities. The chapters plan to follow up, continuing the conversation and offering to partner to help with solutions crafted by the counties.
SBRAAC is open to new collaborations and partnerships with other organizations. The chapter believes they can address more of the work that needs done and have a greater impact when working with like-minded organizations.
“We have a lifetime commitment to serving the communities we live in,” said Sheila Lilley, the organization’s co-chair of social action. “Wherever we live we get involved in a chapter and make sure we are serving however and where we can.”
Information: https://www.sbraac-dst.org/ or President@sbraac-dst.org
Inland Empire Community Foundation works to strengthen Inland Southern California through philanthropy.