Members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. at Delta Days at the Riverside County Board of Supervisors

Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated, 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 (SBRAAC) 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,” the chapter’s president, Erica Shorts said. “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 aged 11-14 as well as Growing and Empowering Myself Successfully (GEMS) to girls aged 14-18. 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 local high school seniors.

“Delta has a reputation of always doing the work,” the chapter’s Chair of Grants, Irene Bryant said. “When it comes to our commitment, we are in there fighting for our youth, making positive impacts on 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.

SBRACC’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 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 that support social justice for the African American Community.

Collaborating with five other chapters in the region (Inland Valley Alumnae, High Desert Alumnae, Murrieta-Temecula Area Alumnae, Pomona Valley Alumnae, and Upsilon Gamma Chapter at CSUSB), the ladies attended County Board Supervisors’ meetings in Riverside and San Bernardino. They then had individual meetings with supervisors advocating for solutions to human trafficking, homelessness, increased voter registration, and racial disparities. The chapters plan to do follow-up work, continuing the conversation and offering to partner in ways that will help forward the solutions crafted by the counties.

SBRAAC is always open to new collaborations and partnerships with other organizations. The chapter believes that 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,” the organization’s Co-Chair of Social Action, Sheila Lilley,” said. “Wherever we live we get involved in a chapter and make sure we are serving however and where we can.”

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