Phi Beta Sigma’s international programs are Bigger and Better Business, Social Action and Education. These programs are executed under the umbrella of Sigma Wellness.
First National Program
• The first national program is the “Clean Speech” program, proposed by Mu Chapter, Lincoln University, Lincoln PA, in 1923. It was adopted by the national convention the following year as a national program. The purpose of the “Clean Speech” program was to stop the indiscriminate use of profanity as a means
of encouraging exemplary conduct at all times by the members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and the public at large. Because the use of profanity was so thoroughly ingrained in the American vernacular, this program met with little success and did not survive the 1920s.
Sigma Wellness is a signature community initiative adopted at Conclave 2007 and has the following objectives:
To support Sigma’s vision of ensuring programs are focused and committed to serving our communities and serving young males through mentoring and scholarships.
To ensure symmetry among all of our organizational and community initiatives.
To develop a sense of pride and commitment in the community toward healthy living that will reduce the incidences of health conditions that adversely affect men of color.
The programs of Bigger and Better Business, Education and Social Action are realized through the Fraternity’s overarching program, Sigma Wellness.
BIGGER AND BETTER BUSINESS
Bigger and Better Business became a principal concern of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity in 1924. At the Conclave held in Philadelphia Pennsylvania in December 1924, there were exhibits from twenty-five Negro business establishments. Business forums were held at this Conclave to further acquaint the visiting brothers and delegates with problems of business experiences by Negroes and their advancements in business.
The Conclave held in Richmond Virginia in December 1925 voted to make Bigger and Better Business the National Public Program of the Fraternity. In April 1926, four chapters throughout the nation sponsored business programs. Since 1926, the Bigger and Better Business Program has been sponsored on a national scale by Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. The program is carried on throughout the year, however, special observances are held during the month of April.
The program is under the supervision of the National Director of Bigger and Better Business. The Regional Director of Bigger and Better Business from each of the seven regions assists the National Director. The purposes of the program are:
1. To make surveys of business conditions on a community basis and to provide for a wide dissemination of the findings through printed reports, forums and lectures.
2. To cooperate with the United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Small Business in the promotion of its program to aid small businesses.
3. To cooperate with Junior Achievement through promoting and assisting in the establishment of branches of Junior Achievement.
4. To sponsor annually an essay contest, among high school, dealing with some phase of business. Prizes are given to the winning contestants.]
5. To grant scholarships to aid promising students in the field of business.
6. To encourage minority businessmen to rely upon the
efficiency of service as a basis of patronage rather than race.
7. To encourage consumers to patronize businesses that offer comparable services to those of other groups.
8. To seek to widen the field of employment for minorities by securing employment in new fields.
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity believes that the improvement of economic conditions of minorities is a major factor in the improvement of the general welfare of society. It is upon this conviction that the Bigger and Better Business Program rests.
volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (vITA)
With so many tax benefits available today, taxes can serve as the starting point leading to greater prosperity
for many people. In 2000, the IRS changed its approach to meeting individual taxpayers’ needs for tax education, awareness and assistance by establishing an office called SPEC (Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication). In 2008 IRS-SPEC cultivated a partnership with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated and shared mutual goals in three key areas:
Promoting tax understanding and awareness
Preparing tax returns for free for low-to-moderate income people
Encouraging personal asset building and self-sufficiency through tax incentives
Mission Statement: To assist taxpayers in satisfying their tax responsibilities through collaborative efforts with IRS- SPEC and thus creating and sharing value by informing, educating and communicating with members of the community.
The International Headquarters of Phi Beta Sigma will strive to achieve this mission by:
• Supporting volunteer-based initiatives to address underserved community segments, primarily through awareness campaigns and free tax preparation
• Reaching out to our customers through trained Sigma personnel
• Supporting fully this partnership • Leveraging our resources to reach
rural as well as urban tax payers.
In addition to strengthening local relationships and offering valuable services through our partnership, Phi Beta Sigma will:
• Bring dollars and other resources into the community
• Provide members and volunteers valuable personal skills and financial insights
• Satisfy community outreach goals or requirements
In this partnership, Phi Beta Sigma will be able provide the membership and community with information and assistance they need, want, and value. Through this alliance with IRS-SPEC,
Phi Beta Sigma will reach the following audiences:
• Low to moderate income population: Phi Beta Sigma will reach out to low–to-moderate income individuals, offering them tax credit assistance that puts more money in their pockets.
• Older American population:
With the aging population which includes our membership, Phi Beta Sigma will reach out to this segment and with the assistance of IRS-SPEC to bring tax help and information to a taxpayer group that often lives on a fixed income.
• General population: As an international fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma in association with IRS- SPEC, can further expand its community objectives in terms
of Bigger and Better Business by providing tax information to people who have just had a child, started their first job, bought a home, retired, etc.
• Members: In terms of membership satisfaction and benefits this partnership with IRS-SPEC offers members of Phi Beta Sigma valuable personal skills and financial insights.
• Student Population: With our
links to the collegiate population and the academic community, our partnership with IRS-SPEC can add an increased sense of volunteerism to the list of attributes held by these future taxpayers. Collegiate members could provide valuable tax assistance and information
to their parents and peers while learning more about the federal system.
• Disabled Population: In reaching out to the disabled community, Phi Beta Sigma with IRS-SPEC can make this population aware of
tax credits, alternative media and other tolls available to assist them in understanding and meeting their tax responsibilities.
Although there is no specific formula for reaching these shared goals through the strength of this partnership, Phi Beta Sigma with IRS-SPEC commits to support local and national initiatives by offering support in the following areas:
Technical tax expertise
Research data based on tax filing
Customized tax education
Marketing products and materials
Access to local and national partnership networks
Suggestions and support for building coalitions
Ideas for local and national partnership models
FEDERAL CREDIT UNION
Phi Beta Sigma is the first fraternity
to offer a credit union to its members. The credit union is a separate entity from the Fraternity. However, this credit union does represent a legacy of the fraternity and every Brother should seek information on how to join it.
WHAT WE OFFER
We offer Special Project Loans, Share Secured Loans, Collateralized
Loans, Special Signature Loans. We offer loans for purposes of Home Improvements, Education, Wedding, Vocation, Bills/Loans Consolidation and Personal.
Membership in the Credit Union is open to Sigmas, Zetas, their families, the Fraternity, the Sorority, and their Regions and Chapters. A $28.00 minimum amount is required to open a share account, of which $3.00 pays the application fee and $25.00 purchases 5 shares at $5.00 each, deposited into the account.
A SMART INVESTMENT
A share at Phi Beta Sigma Federal Credit Union is a flexible investment serving a variety of needs. Every dollar deposited is put to work to earn profit for the depositor. Most are invested in preferably short-term investments with high yields, and some are reinvested in loans to other PBSFCU members.
Please take some time to visit our credit union, http://www.pbsfcu.org/.
The Sigma Economic Empowerment Development Project (Project SEED)
is a Bigger & Better Business
program developed to focus on two important topics of interest: Financial Management and Home Ownership. This focus provides useful information in both areas and benefits Phi Beta Sigma members, families, and communities. Project SEED is designed to be implemented at all organizational levels, by alumni and collegiate chapters. Each of the program’s components are economically viable
and relevant, current concerns of our membership.
For college students today, financial management is a vital and necessary skill to be mastered in the new millennium. With the rising cost
in campus living, tuition charges, books, and transportation, coupled with the decreasing funding sources for scholarships, loans, and grants, financial management is no longer optional. It is required. Helping more low and moderate-income Americans become homeowners is a national priority. Phi Beta Sigma seeks to play a more important role in sharing positive information about the advantages of homeownership to our members.
• 401(k) plans and other tax differed plans
• Budgeting your work, working your budget
• Building your child’s education fund • Building your financial portfolio on
$25 a month
• Choosing the components of your financial portfolio
• Making the most of your retirement • Successful money management
• Tax return preparation
• Affordable housing design
• Assistance with bad credit ratings • Enhancing your housing strategies • First-time homebuyers seminar
• HUD auctions
Home ownership financing sources
Understanding the income qualification process
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity has, from its very beginning, concerned itself with improving the general well being of minority persons and groups. In 1934, a well-defined program of Social Action was formulated and put into action.
The Social Action project was conceived by Brother Elmo M. Anderson, prominent Catholic lay leader and at the time, President of
Epsilon Sigma Chapter (New York, 1934). Brother Anderson formulated this program using material out of
the Manual for Catholic Action by the Encyclical of Pope Pius XI calling for the reconstruction of the social order. This program was abandoned in 1938. It was reactivated in 1945.
This program sought at that time to secure:
1. National and State Anti-Lynch legislation
2. Equality of wages and working conditions for minority groups
3. Elimination of racial discrimination and segregation in federal, state, municipal and county employment
4. Equality of educational opportunities 5. Abolition of Jim Crow laws
6. Full citizenship rights for all citizens
A National Director of Social Action was next elected in 1945 during the constitutional restructuring of the Fraternity and following World War II. His duties were to formulate a program designed to achieve the purposes of the broad program of Social Action. He was required to work with the Regional Directors of Social Action and the chapters in carrying on this program.
The overall objective of this program is the elimination of every form or badge of second-class citizenship. All Social Action programs should reach a zenith in October, “Social Action Month”. There should be a public meeting in this month. This program is under the direct supervision and guidance of the National Director and assisted by the various Regional Directors.
The Social Action Program has shifted to focus on issues pertaining to health disparities and healthy living in our communities. Below are examples of our premier programs.
LIVING WELL BROTHER-TO- BROTHER
The Sigma Wellness: Living Well Brother-to-Brother initiative focuses on eliminating health disparities in men of color.
AIDS / HIV EPIDEMIC
In an effort to raise the awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on the African-American male population, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, through it Sigma Wellness signature initiative has developed a new project, the Conversations Among Brothers Series. This initiative is targeted at African American men on college campuses and is designed to encourage ongoing peer-to-peer discussions about topics and issues that adversely impact African-American men, particularly HIV/AIDS.
With the alarming number of African- American men between the ages 17-24 that are infected with the disease,
it is imperative for organizations whose membership encompasses
such demographics to take a proactive position in helping to address this matter of urgency. To that end, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, primarily through its collegiate chapters, seeks to facilitate ongoing dialogue among Brothers on college campuses. In addition, the Fraternity seeks to encourage African- American men to not only become aware of the impact of the disease
on our communities but to get tested and become advocates for HIV/AIDS testing.
The Fraternity realizes the need to leverage the power of peer interaction and actively engage young people in their educational efforts in a way that goes well beyond typical initiatives like lectures and traditional programs. Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity wishes to directly involve young people in a peer-
to-peer way which adds energy and momentum to the educational efforts and objectives as set forth in this new initiative.
AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY
The American Cancer Society
and Phi Beta Sigma are waging war against cancer. Through this partnership, the two organizations fight cancer through legislative campaigns aimed at promoting legislation that combats cancer, encourages education and awareness, and seeks to level the ills of disparity between those who can afford treatments and services and those who cannot.
Our partnership with the American Cancer Society marks a new advocacy outreach strategy that will effectively engage Phi Beta Sigma members to take action in legislative campaigns. American Cancer Society has developed a way for members of Sigma and Zeta, and our family and friends,
to write letters to congressional leaders requesting action on particular legislative issues.
MARCH OF DIMES
Phi Beta Sigma partners with the March of Dimes. Through this partnership, the two organizations will work together to prevent premature births and build strong fathers and male role modes in the African American community through sponsoring Strong Fathers seminars and Stepping To Save Babies. Our members are committed to take the following actions:
Sigma’s volunteering for local March of Dimes chapters, committees and boards.
Chapters co-sponsoring and leading with the March of Dimes Strong Fathers seminars in our communities.
Sigma’s Stepping To Save Babies initiative: Our goal is to raise $75,000 with each chapter contributing a minimum of $200 for March For Babies.
Chapters are encouraged to continuously register and educate citizens to participate in the democratic process. We will work jointly with Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. to make a positive impact in our communities by registering new voters. The priorities of Project Vote are voter registration, voter education, voter participation and getting out the vote.
Blacks constitute between 10 and 19 percent of all eligible voters. What a powerful force if properly harnessed. In 2004, only 38 percent of eligible Black voters registered. Every Sigma Brother should show proof to his chapter that he is registered to vote. Check friends
and family members to ensure their registration as well.
Meaningful and lasting changes can best be brought about through the political process. If men of Sigma are to fulfill our mission of “Service to Humanity” in the political arena, and become positive agents of change.
CAPITOL HILL PRESENCE
Our Government relations vision is to promote the Fraternity and its work on the Congressional Level. Our target audience is members of Congress, Congressional staff members, the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional black associates.
The genesis of the Education program lies in the traditional emphasis, which the Fraternity places on education and the fundamental reorganization of the Fraternity that took place in the period of 1945-1946.
Education is a program, which is a must for a college Fraternity. This program has many facets as it affects alumni and collegiate members in the Fraternity.
The Educational program sponsors scholarships, encourages and assists students in attaining the highest scholastic achievement; tutoring services; cultural programs such
as recitals, lectures, forums and contests. It also attempts to raise the educational standards of each community. The National Director assisted by the various Regional Directors directs this program.
NATIONAL DEBATE CONTEST
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity is partnering with A National Center for Policy Analysis Project and Debate Central to avail our debaters with the most up-to-date resources. This partnership will allow debaters to review articles, research debate tactics and properly prepare for an informed, intelligent dialogue. This year’s contest will be in the Cross-Examination Format. A two- member team from each region will represent and debate the above topic.
Prepare thoroughly and good luck. Please follow the steps below which will guide you to key information on the debate.
1. Refer to the following website for http://www.debate-central.org
2. Click the Research Topics Link (You should see the topic under the Cross-Examination Section)
3. Review the Research Topic Link
for a variety of resources which can be implemented in your debate. Especially take note of
the Glossary Terms which will strengthen your vocabulary on Sub- Saharan Africa.
4. Click on the Learn Debate Link and scroll down to Understand Cross
Click on Understand Cross Examination Debate and then scroll down to Outline of CX Debate
Click on Outline of CX Debate and review the debate outline structure. The debate will encompass 60 minutes. Teams must prepare for both the affirmative and negative.
Once you have reviewed the debate format return to the Understand Cross Examination Debate Page and click on The Code of the Debater: Introduction to the Way of Reason. This should be extremely supportive in understanding the intricacies of debating.
Your team preparation for the debates should include use of resources on the Debate Central website; however, you may use others as well. Be sure to also review the Evidence Link to gain valuable insight and details.
INTERNATIONAL ORATORICAL CONTEST
The assumption that the creation of responsible citizens is one of the main purposes of our school system raises complicated questions: what is a responsible citizen, and how can school based practices be employed in the creation of one? There are many ideas about possible educational reforms which aim to answer these questions. At one extreme are those who
demand a return to a more traditional education, who advise a study of more classical, scholarly subjects. At
the other extreme are those who feel that any skill a student exhibits, from painting to auto mechanics, should be stressed as strongly as math or English.
Participants must adhere to the following rules for the topic presented:
1. Each participant will have seven minutes to address the given topic.
2. No props are allowed.
3. Each participant must present
a perspective supported with relevant reasons and/or examples.
4. Participants must demonstrate a knowledge of current issues to validate perspectives.
5. Participants must be able to organize thoughts in a cohesive and fluid manner.
SIGMA BETA CLUB
In 1950 Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity became the first Greek organization to develop a youth auxiliary group. Under the direction of Dr. Parlette L. Moore the Sigma Beta Club was founded. Brother Moore was concerned about our changing needs in our communities and recognized the important role that Sigma men could play in the lives of our youth.
The Sigma Beta Clubs’ four major principles of focus are on Culture, Athletics, Social and Educational needs. The Sigma Beta Club offers a unique opportunity to develop values, leadership skills and social/cultural awareness in our youth during their developmental years. Sigma Beta Club programs are geared to meet
the needs of its members, but at the same time provide them with a well- rounded outlook that is needed to cope with today’s society. Phi Beta Sigma
is confident that investing in our youth today will produce the effective leaders of tomorrow.