This article originally appeared in the Press Enterprise, February 2022.

Founded in 1998 by Rialto High School teacher Ernest Rhone IV and students, Sigma Beta Xi Youth & Family Services (SBX) was launched to develop future leaders. Today, the organization services Moreno Valley, Perris and Hemet. Rhone remains as the organization’s Chief Advisor, and SBX has mentored over 1,000 students at 21 schools.

Located in Moreno Valley, SBX continues its mission of offering mentoring, education and community organizing to break the cycle of poverty and violence. The organization’s Youth Services are geared toward raising the achievements of students in low-income families, foster youth, English learners and young men of color. Programs include one-on-one mentoring, leadership development, a Youth Action Team and a Rites of Passage program that focuses on Black youth empowerment.

“We started off with mentoring and youth development and as we got involved in serving the young people, we realized we needed to help the families too,” SBX’s CEO Corey Jackson said. “We have become a community development corporation.”

SBX now provides wrap-around services to help build stronger families. Through case management, the organization helps stabilize families while giving them the opportunity to work on their own upward mobility. Those seeking assistance will have their immediate needs evaluated and be directed to the resources available to ensure their basic needs are covered.

The organization also helps strengthen families through Black Fatherhood, a free 6-week course that gives fathers and expecting fathers a safe place to share experiences with peers and discover how their presence can have a positive and long-lasting impact on their family and children’s lives.

SBX works to keep families healthy through BreatheIE, a free program for families with children who have asthma. The program offers tactics to prevent the need for emergency room visits. This includes reducing asthma triggers in their home, referrals to affordable clinics in the area, education on the proper use of asthma medications, and recipes for non-toxic cleaning agents. The organization’s Community Health Workers offer virtual and in-home visits.

SBX has recently set a goal to eliminate childhood homelessness in Moreno Valley and is working to secure its first home for youth who are homeless. It plans to ultimately create multiple opportunities for youth and their families to secure safe housing. The organization has currently identified at least 75 youth who are homeless.

“Moreno Valley has the second largest population of homeless youth in Riverside County,” Jackson said. “We hear from school districts all the time that there is a need for housing and shelter options.

Recently, SBX received a grant from the Black Equity Fund through the Inland Empire Community Foundation to continue to convene and empower the Black community. This collective work will help build a stronger community and address inequities.

The COVID-19 pandemic unveiled many inequities, including the lack of a strong social safety net for families, Jackson said. During the pandemic the organization helped to close the digital divide by securing affordable internet connections, distributing several thousand hotspots for local schools. SBX has also provided thousands of PPE and COVID-19 testing kits to families while continuing to serve 200 young people with stable mentoring.

Families in the organization’s service area who could benefit from its programs are encouraged to visit SBX’s website or to call the organization to seek help. Jackson also hopes that more organizations will help fulfill the needs of the region, which he said are more than one organization can address.

“If not us, then who,” Jackson said. “Give us a call when you find a friend or family member in need or when you’re in need. We’re here and we’re here to serve. You are not alone.”

More information: https://www.sigmabetaxi.com/ or 951-247-1700

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