NEWS AND EVENTS
OCTOBER 2015: HALLOWEEN FUN AT THE DETERMINATION CENTER!
This past June, just as funds at The Determination Center were running really, really low—and things were looking quite bleak—the brothers of Syracuse University’s Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc. presented Bettie Graham, Founder and Director of The Determination Center, with a check for $10,000. The Center, located at 1654 West Onondaga Street in Syracuse, provides a host of after-school activities—homework help, tutoring, performing arts, music, and more—for upwards of 80 at-risk kids. It is not an overstatement to note that this donation was incredibly impactful for the small nonprofit, allowing Ms. Graham and her staff to keep the doors of The Determination Center open during a summer of escalating violence in the city of Syracuse. Jacob Friesen Grant ’16, Alpha Phi Alpha member and broadcast digital journalism major in the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University, kindly provided the backstory of the brothers’ generous gift. Interview conducted by board member Nancy Marshall.
How did you and your fraternity brothers arrive at the decision that The Determination Center should be the beneficiary of your generous gift? Two brothers in the spring of 2014 came in to assist with the programming for the day and saw the importance and impact the program was having. Many brothers believe that the development of the neighborhood is crucial to our success as a community and wanted to help the program continue to strive. Unfortunately, Brothers knew that prior commitments would prevent them from doing all that was needed. In order to help despite our shortcomings, we arrived at the decision to donate.
And, most importantly, why? Our aims as a fraternity are Manly Deeds, Scholarship and Love For All Mankind. Part of the ways to accomplish and reach our aims is to work to uplift our surrounding community. Donating and helping out at The Determination Center is the least we can do to help the people of Syracuse. We know that we cannot uplift the community on our own. So when we see someone who is doing the work necessary to better the neighborhood, we feel obligated to help them in any way we can.
Tell me about your fraternity’s mission. Mission: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. develops leaders, promotes brotherhood and academic excellence, while providing service and advocacy for our communities. Vision: The objectives of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. are to stimulate the ambition of its members; to prepare them for the greatest usefulness in the cause of humanity, freedom, and dignity of the individual; to encourage the highest and noblest form of manhood; and to aid downtrodden humanity in its efforts to achieve higher social, economic, and intellectual status.
As a Syracuse University student, what does community mean to you? Community is more than the physical elements necessary for a space to be called a community. What really makes a community is the people who live there. For me, I am a part of many communities. There is my Atlanta community, more spefically Grant Park, which is my hometown. There is the SU community which comprises of the students that go to SU. Then there is the Syracuse community which encompasses all that live the city of Syracuse. From my time in the city of Syracuse I have noticed a major divide between the city of Syracuse community and the SU community. My Brothers and I work to bridge these groups because many of us come from similar neighborhoods as the ones surrounding SU. The bridge will not be built overnight, but begins with volunteering, donations and commitment to initiatives such as The Determination Center.
In what other student organizations are you involved? I am involved in many different groups on campus including Newhouse Ambassadors, Struggle Bus, NABJ, but I am most proud of my involvement with Project G.R.I.N.D. I am President and Co-Founder of the organization. This summer we are actually running a summer leadership camp with The Determination Center. Please check out our website for more information. http://projectgrindmentorship.weebly.com/
Future plans for Alpha Phi Alpha? The future of the Delta Zeta Chapter will emphasize the relationship the organization has with the community. Members will attend Syracuse City School District Board Meetings, town hall meetings, voter registration canvases, and any other gathering that proves -- in such a turbulent time -- that community development begins with community engagement. The chapter will also move towards grander scholarship and mentorship initiatives to make sure we not only engage the community, but that we also help grow with it.