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Founded on the campus of Howard University in Washington, DC in 1908, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African American college-trained women. To trace its history is to tell a story of changing patterns of human relations in America in the 20th century.
The small group of women who organized the Sorority was conscious of a privileged position as college-trained women of color, just one generation removed from slavery. They were resolute that their college experiences should be as meaningful and productive as possible. Alpha Kappa Alpha was founded to apply that determination.
As the Sorority grew, it kept in balance two important themes: the importance of the individual and the strength of an organization of courageous women. As the world became more complex, there was a need for associations that surpassed racial, geographical, political, physical and social barriers.
Alpha Kappa Alpha’s influence extends beyond campus quads and student interest. It has a legacy of service that deepens, rather than ends, with college graduation.
The goals of its program activities center on significant issues in families, communities, government halls and world assembly chambers. Its efforts constitute a priceless part of the global experience in the 21st century.
The Mississippi Health Project
In 1935, members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated initiated the Mississippi Health Project. Their goal was to bring health treatment, supplies and education to Mississippi Delta residents who rarely saw health professionals. For six years, until the beginning of World War II, Alpha Kappa Alpha members mobilized health professionals to set up clinics under trees, in churches, and wherever people gathered. Adults were tested for various conditions and given medical treatment; children were immunized; and everyone was given useful tips for maintaining their health. With the combination of immunizations and self-help programs targeting nutrition and hygiene, over 15,000 people benefited from the efforts of ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha.
The Cleveland Job Corps
In 1965, Alpha Kappa Alpha became instrumental in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War On Poverty.” With a multimillion-dollar contract, we instituted a Job Corps Center for women in Cleveland Ohio. The center was initiated to aid in strengthening the educational and vocational skills of disadvantaged young women between the ages of 16 and 21. The Cleveland Job Corps remains a viable component of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
The Ivy Reading AKAdemy
This initiative has provided programs that encourage the entire community to become involved. The Ivy Reading AKAdemy serves as an educational and human resource center for programs provided by Alpha Kappa Alpha. With No Child Left Behind in mind, this reading initiative, focuses on early learning and mastery of basic reading skills by the end of third grade. All chapters were requested to implement a kindergarten through third grade after-school reading initiative. A $1.5 million dollar proposal is currently pending with the United States Department of Education to fund a three-year nationwide after-school demonstration project in low-performing, economically deprived inner city schools at 16 sites within the continental United States.