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Lifted by Our Community

The seeds of Iva Brown and Bertha Lacey Jones' friendship were planted in 1960. Bertha was a young newlywed, new to Cincinnati; Iva a college student at the University of Cincinnati. They met through the Sigma Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha {AKA) Sorority.

Iva Brown and Bertha Lacey JonesThe seeds of Iva Brown and Bertha Lacey Jones' friendship were planted in 1960. Bertha was a young newlywed, new to Cincinnati; Iva a college student at the University of Cincinnati. They met through the Sigma Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha {AKA) Sorority.

"In any city you can find sisters who will welcome you with open arms," Iva said.

AKA is not a typical sorority, Iva explained. For one, the commitment doesn't end with college graduation. After commencement, "sorors" or "sisters" of the sorority increase their community service.

Founded in 1908 in Washington D.C. by and for African-American women, AKA was created to meet the needs of the black community. The Cincinnati chapter, now 80 years old, focuses on scholarship, the arts, education, health and economic development

It was scholarship that led Iva and Bertha to The Greater Cincinnati Foundation. AKA is no stranger to scholarships; the Sigma Omega chapter awards at least $10,000 a year to African-American women. But when AKA sisters Mamie K. Faulkner, Oberia T. Heisel and Cora L. Stonom left charitable bequests earmarked for scholarships, Iva and Bertha began looking for an organization that could help them establish a legacy for young women.

'We chose The Greater Cincinnati Foundation because we decided it met all of all our needs," Bertha said.

The Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sigma Omega Chapter Scholarship Fund will provide partial or full undergraduate or graduate scholarships to African-American women. Members of AKA comprise an advisory committee whose charge is to identify the recipients.

When asked why their sisters wanted to create this kind of legacy, Bertha said it was for the same reason AKA exists.

"Empowerment comes to mind;' she said. "'Scholarships empower young women to make choices in their lives and create better lives for their families. We were lifted by our community and we want to lift them."

Thanks to the generous bequests of the three AKA sisters, the fund will help lift African-American women for many years to come.



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