In 1852, William Henry Letterman and Charles Page Thomas Moore started the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity based on the concept of providing service to those who are less fortunate. This is why Phi Kappa Psi’s maxim is The Great Joy of Serving Others. Since then, Phi Psis across the world have been giving of their time and talents to causes important to them and their families. As we evaluate the impact we aspire to make in our communities, the Fraternity believes a dedicated and collective focus on Addressing Poverty Issues is the best approach to live our founding principles and serve those around us.
As we embark on this new initiative, it’s important to acknowledge poverty is a complex topic. According to the United Way, “Poverty is closely tied to education and health, as well as income, and can worsen circumstances that are already difficult. Changing outcomes in any of these areas will require thoughtful planning and implementation that recognizes and addresses the connections between them.” As a result, Phi Kappa Psi seeks to find creative ways to address these complex issues in partnership with agencies who are currently doing work in our local communities. It requires comprehensive advocacy efforts, hands-on service, and generous philanthropic fundraising to promote well-being and expand resources and support available. This expansion of focus provides our members with more flexibility and autonomy to create community partnerships that are meaningful to them.
Poverty can be addressed in a number of ways, including enhancing community knowledge and ability; introducing economic opportunities to under-served communities; promoting environmental awareness; increasing food access; expanding land use; engaging parents in education; providing quality housing for low-income families; advocating for justice reform; and empowering/mentoring youth to be involved in their communities. We recognize we are not going to solve the problem of poverty overnight—however, we can collectively begin to identify the core issues in our local communities, and seek to improve them with strategic efforts on the part of our chapters, colonies, alumni associations, and alumni members working alongside local philanthropic partners who are putting in the work each and every day.
There are a variety of national organizations that could be explored for partnership. With these national organizations, there are local branches in communities who are working to address these issues which are widely available to all of our members:
This list is only a starting point of the options to explore in our communities. Members are encouraged to explore both local and inter/national partners to determine the best fit for the way they would like to focus on this issue. The best approach is to be curious about what major issues affect your local community, determine how you would like to have a positive impact, and work to identify the most meaningful ways to address those issues.
For more information about the Poverty needs in your state, check out the Human Needs Index from the Salvation Army and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.
As you begin these conversations, this TED Talk by Teva Sienicki provides helpful considerations on work around addressing poverty. As the president and CEO of a nonprofit working on this issue, she shares what she has learned in her work:
More information about this new focus will be available in the coming months. Look for a full guidebook and resource list to be distributed to chapters, colonies and alumni associations prior to the fall 2018 term.
If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Senior Director of Member Development, Kyle Hickman.