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Fraternity Blog

Posted On: Tuesday, December 1, 2015 06:20 AM, by Jami Harrison Slaton
Sara Scholes Morgan
Alpha Mu/Missouri

Today, December 1, is #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. For Theta Foundation, #GivingTuesday will see Thetas coming together worldwide to invest in Give to Lead, Give to Learn, a milestone campaign working to endow two of Theta's most-pressing human capital needs: the need-based scholarship and Educational Leadership Consultant (ELC) programs. To reach our $5 million Campaign goal, we aim to raise $100,000 (or more!) in 24 hours to support these two programs. The best part? Donations made on #GivingTuesday will double—meaning Theta Foundation has the potential to raise $200,000—because of a $100,000 matching gift from a very special leading woman, Sara Scholes Morgan, Alpha Mu/Missouri.


Like many of Theta's loyal alumnae, Sara believes strongly in the importance of giving back to Theta Foundation. Doing so, she says, "insures our traditions of sisterhood and service continue for many years to come." When asked why she wanted to make such a significant impact for Give to Lead, Give to Learn specifically, Sara said, " The importance of this initiative was made clear by a wonderful, tireless, (and persistent!) Theta volunteer here in Houston." That volunteer is Dinah Hampton McClymonds, Alpha Omicron/Oklahoma, a Theta Foundation trustee and chairman of the Campaign Steering Committee.


We asked Dinah what it was about Sara that makes her a leading woman for Theta. Dinah shared that Sara is known nationally for her advocacy of the arts. Sara has taken the lead in creating opportunities for artists of all kinds, notably those who are talented but not widely known. She thinks big, and if something is needed, she will find a way to create it. Sara always makes sure her philanthropic contributions will provide momentum and encouragement for others, hence her $100,000 matching gift to Give to Lead, Give to Learn. "It was an honor to work with Sara, and one of the highlights of this Campaign for me," says Dinah.


Sara reflected on her gift to Theta Foundation, and shared that her Theta membership holds a deep personal meaning and many memories. For Sara, Theta represents family, friendship, and service.


On family, Sara shares, "I come from a family with many Theta members. My mother, her cousin, my sister, two of our cousins, and one of their daughters are all Alpha Mu members at the University of Missouri. My sister's daughter is a Theta at the University of Michigan." Family ties, both blood and Theta, clearly play a large role in Sara's family!


"The friendships I made while at Mizzou were a very important part of my college experience; some of my best friends to this day are Alpha Mu members, which has greatly enriched my life," said Sara. "Coming from a very small high school, it was important to me to be able to have a place where I felt comfortable and welcomed at such a large university. It was also valuable to form relationships with women from urban areas as well as other states."


Regarding service, Sara shares she was brought up in a small Missouri town "believing that one's responsibility is to family and community. The idea of service to the community was reinforced by my years at Kappa Alpha Theta." Service and philanthropy are strong values within Theta, and Sara clearly embodies these traits of both service and philanthropy to our Fraternity!


Sara is not only a leading woman for Kappa Alpha Theta, but a leader wherever she calls home. Throughout eight moves among seven cities, Sara has and continues to be involved in her local community. Her proudest volunteer achievement is founding the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, a not-for-profit organization showcasing museum quality craft and housing artists whose studios are open to the public. In addition to her tenure as chapter president for Alpha Mu, Sara's proudest personal achievements include her 50-year marriage, three children (including a daughter-in-law who is a Theta!), and three grandchildren. When we asked Sara her advice for the aspiring leading women of Kappa Alpha Theta, she said, "Believe in yourself while always being open to new ideas and people; find your passion; choose wisely; then go for it!"


When Sara agreed to making an impact at the Champion level for Give to Lead, Give to Learn, it was with one stipulation: that her gift be used to encourage other women to give, too. With less than $450,000 needed to reach our $5 million goal, every gift matters. Your gift on #GivingTuesday makes Sara's $100,000 matching gift possible and puts our Campaign goal within reach. To take advantage of Sara's generosity and to help us raise $100,000 (or more!) in just 24 hours on #GivingTuesday, please make a gift on December 1, at www.GivetoTheta.org/Give.

Jami Slaton, Alpha Sigma/Washington State, is a gift officer for Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation.

Posted On: Wednesday, May 27, 2015 11:00 AM, by Liz Appel Rinck
Spring 2015 issue
Soon the Spring 2015 issue of the Theta magazine will appear in your mailbox. Although it's not a special issue, per se, it does comprise a number of noteworthy features:

  • News of a first-of-its-kind capital campaign launched by Theta Foundation. Through this campaign, Thetas and friends of Theta can invest in two proven programs: the Educational Leadership Consultant (ELC) program and a new need-based scholarship program.

  • Further celebration of Theta's 25-year relationship with CASA, including an article by a collegian who strengthened the connection between her chapter and her local CASA chapter.

  • Stories from alumnae groups and college chapters about spreading the widest influence for good on our sixth annual Day of Service.

  • The Fraternity's annual report, a list of undergraduate Thetas who earned straight As, and a profile of Jean Smith McKenzie, Alpha Mu/Missouri, president of American Girl.


As always, we hope you will find both inspiration and entertainment in the latest issue of the Kappa Alpha Theta Magazine.

Liz Appel Rinck, Gamma/Butler, is the director of communications for Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity.

Posted On: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 09:20 AM, by Melissa Shaub
For 25 years, Kappa Alpha Theta and National Court Appointed Special Advocates have shared a partnership rooted in a shared belief that every abused or neglected child should be safe, establish permanence, and have the opportunity to thrive. During our partnership, Thetas have been advocates, contributed countless volunteer hours, and provided millions of dollars in support of national and local CASA programs. Unfortunately, the number of children in foster care is rising, and there are thousands of children who do not have a voice because they don't have a CASA.

We know it costs approximately $1,000 a year to fund a CASA volunteer for one child—a cost that is just one third spent for one month in foster care. Throughout our 25-year partnership, Thetas have contributed more than $1.2 million to Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation's grant to National CASA, and in a three-hour period and through $5 contributions, attendees at the 2014 Grand Convention raised enough money so that Theta Foundation could provide 14 children with a CASA volunteer for a year.

Today, we're going to demonstrate that abused and neglected children are not forgotten children - and we can't do this without you (and your friends). We are a Fraternity of more than 200,000+ members, but it would only take 1,000 of us making gifts of $25 to reach our goal of providing 25 children with a CASA volunteer for a year. Every gift of every size matters—big or small—and every member can make a difference. For the next 25 hours, we are asking Thetas to do what they do best, and to work together, to meet our goal of $25,000 in 25 hours. We know that when Thetas come together to spread the widest influence for good, anything is possible!

Donate today! When filling out the online form, make sure to select Restricted Donation and National CASA so that your donation is credited appropriately. And...follow along with the #Theta25CASA hashtag to receive updates!

The CASA 25th Anniversary Donation Drive is a joint effort between Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity and Theta Foundation.

Posted On: Thursday, February 19, 2015 07:30 AM, by Gaylena Merritt
It's that time of the year when Thetas are busy making plans for the summer and preparing for the upcoming academic year. Theta Foundation recognizes February as NPC's Month of the Scholar, and is proud to support Thetas in their scholastic pursuits and promotion of the widest influence for good through our grants and scholarships. To ensure you submit a successful application, learn more about upcoming application deadlines on our Apply Now page and check out the tips below to help you prepare.

  1. Read instructions. The grant and scholarship applications and their companion application guides outline all instructions required to successfully complete the application process. In the scholarship application form, look for blue question marks near certain questions for supplemental instructions. You can also click on the green "Help" button on the right side of the application for Frequently Asked Questions and answers.

  2. Stay informed. Be sure to regularly check your email and Theta Foundation's social media pages for messages and information related to the grant and scholarship application opportunities by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

  3. File your FAFSA ASAP! Even if you aren't interested in applying for Theta Foundation's need-based scholarships, it is important to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) if you intend to enroll in any degree-granting program next year. If you are a collegian member applying for Theta Foundation's need-based scholarships, be sure to submit your FAFSA as soon as possible so you can successfully complete your scholarship application. I also recommend downloading Filing the FAFSA: The Edvisors Guide to Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, a free e-book with step-by-step instructions for submitting a complete and accurate FAFSA.

  4. Proofread, proofread, proofread. When entering information into your Theta Foundation grant and/or scholarship application, particularly the narrative components, remember that the application is your only chance to make a good impression with evaluators. Theta Foundation's programs are competitive, and we have high standards. Make sure your essays are well-written and free of errors; poorly written essays will negatively affect your application score, and incorrect or incomplete answers may result in disqualification.

  5. Get help. As noted above, narrative responses—though short in length—make up a significant part of Theta Foundation's applications and evaluation standards. A number of resources can help you write strong responses as part of a strong and competitive application submission for Theta Foundation grant and scholarship funding. My recommendations include, but are not limited to, Purdue OWL (the Purdue Online Writing Lab) and your campus writing center.


We're also happy to help you with your grant and scholarship applications. If you have any questions, please contact me at gmerritt@kappaalphatheta.org. Don't forget, the deadline for scholarship applications is Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, and the upcoming deadline for grant applications for summer programs is Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

Gaylena Merritt is Theta Foundation’s director of programs.

Posted On: Monday, January 19, 2015 08:00 AM, by Valerie Holloway Skinner
Valerie Skinner
Epsilon Epsilon/
Baylor
In June 2014, Valerie spoke at the CASA Breakfast at Grand Convention in Orlando, Fla. Many Thetas were inspired by Valerie's story and in the few short hours following the breakfast, attendees raised nearly $14,000 with the help of a matching gift from her family foundation.



My name is Valerie Skinner and I am honored to have been asked to share with you my personal, as well as my family's, financial commitment to CASA over the years. I'd like to paint a picture for you of why our family has chosen to support CASA through Theta Foundation since 1999.

As a couple, my parents agreed that the most important role they had was to make sure the physical, emotional, social, educational, and spiritual needs of their children were being met to the best of their abilities. They made many sacrifices over the years to make sure we had nutritious food to eat, new shoes to wear, and good schools to attend. They helped us with our homework, monitored our chores, attended our sporting events, took us to church, and drove us back and forth to all of our volunteer activities.

Was my life perfect growing up? No. But was I completely secure every single day of my formative years that my parents wanted me, loved me, and would provide for me until I was old enough to provide for myself? YES. And because I had that strong, safe, supportive foundation, I have been able to repeat that cycle with my own family. Clearly, I won the parent lottery, and I bet many of you did, too. If you're a child in the foster care system, however, your life looks much different.

As Thetas, we are in a unique position of being in a partnership with an exceptional agency that knows how to show children that someone cares about them. And that this caring person can be trusted to help find them a safe, permanent home where they can thrive and become all they were meant to be.

My dad used to tell me a story about when he was in the first or second grade. His teacher had instructed each child to bring a dime to class to buy a War Bond to support the efforts of the soldiers fighting in World War II. My dad's mother died when he was 3, and because his family was so poor, his stepmother told him they couldn't spare a dime, and so he felt deeply hurt and embarrassed to be the only child who didn't have anything to give. He never forgot that feeling, telling me many times, "Valerie, don't ever be a person who doesn't have a dime to give away." Possibly the most important lesson my father ever taught me was to always be the person who chooses to give. And since he led by such clear example, it was an easy lesson to embrace and understand.

At this stage in my life, I am not going to be able to serve as a judge in a family court. I am not likely to become a CPS worker or even a foster or adoptive parent. Because of other commitments in my life, I currently am not in a position to serve as a CASA advocate. But I do have a dime to give away. And I bet you do, too.

You may already be involved in a fundraiser in your community for your local CASA organization, which is great, but today I am asking you to consider supporting the work of the national organization, because your local chapter relies on them to provide training curriculum, technical support, quality assurance, volunteer recruitment and public awareness. We also rely on our national organization to distribute federal grants and secure private and corporate dollars. The dollars you are raising locally are more efficiently and effectively utilized because of the oversight of our national organization.

As we celebrate our 25th year with CASA, nothing would make me a prouder Theta than to see your dimes and my dimes working together to secure the future of children who are counting on us to care.

Valerie Holloway Skinner, Epsilon Epsilon/Baylor, is a member of the Mid-Cities Alumnae Chapter and is a charter Life Loyal Theta.

Posted On: Thursday, April 24, 2014 09:00 AM, by Liz Appel Rinck
Spring 2014 issue
Since we redesigned our signature publication in 2009, the cover of each issue of the Theta magazine has featured the smiling face of a Theta collegian or alumna. And while that photograph is the first Theta face you see, it is by no means the only Theta face you'll see in any given issue.

In the Spring 2014 edition, for example, Abbi North, Alpha/DePauw, graces the cover. And on the inside pages, you'll find more than 120 photographs that portray more than 1,300 Thetas.

These women—our sisters—are role models, scholars, philanthropists, mentors, athletes, and innovators. They personify leadership, exercise the widest influence for good, and strive for achievement. In short, they are all remarkable, and we think you'll be proud to learn more about them.

If you haven't already received it, the Spring 2014 issue should be in your mailbox very soon. We hope you enjoy it!

Liz Appel Rinck, Gamma/Butler, is the director of communications for Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity and is a charter Life Loyal member.


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