Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Incorporated was founded on the campus of Butler University in Indianapolis Indiana in 1922, by seven School teachers - Mary Lou Allison Gardner Little, Nannie Mae Gahn Johnson, Vivian White Marbury, Hattie Mae Annette Dulin Redford, Bessie Mae Downey Rhoades Martin, Dorothy Hanley Whiteside and Cubena McClure. The sorority became an incorporated organization on December 30, 1929.
The first three years were devoted to organizing. The first call for a national Boule (convention) was held in Indianapolis, December 27-29, 1925. The second was held in Louisville, Kentucky at which time Fannie O'Bannon became the Grand Basileus. In a time when education for African Americans was difficult to attain, the founders of Sigma Gamma Rho became educators. They believed that the self-respect, knowledge and discipline gained through study would help individuals to recognize their duty and responsibility for their society. Thus, Sigma Gamma Rho was founded on the precept of education and continues to promote and encourage high scholastic attainment.
From seven young educators, Sigma Gamma Rho has become an international service organization comprised of women from every profession. Sigma Gamma Rho offers its members opportunities to develop their unique talents through leadership training and involvement in sorority activities. Sorority activities provide an atmosphere where friendships and professional contacts are developed which often lead to bonds that last a lifetime.Sigma Gamma Rho's commitment to service is expressed in our slogan, "Greater Service, Greater Progress."
The sorority has a proud history of offering service wherever chapters exist, including OPERATION Big Book Bag, a program designed to address the needs, challenges and issues that face school-aged children who are educationally at-risk in local homeless shelters and extended care hospitals. The objective is for chapters to provide their local homeless shelters and children hospitals with educational materials, equipment and supplies. Other national projects include Wee Savers, Project Reassurance and Habitat for Humanity, Sigma Gamma Rho built seven homes across the United States in Florida, District of Columbia, Wisconsin, California, and Texas.
In keeping with the ideals of Sigma Gamma Rho, the sorority has supported the following organizations: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Council of Negro Women, National Pan Hellenic Council, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, National Urban League, March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, National Mental Health Association, United Negro College Fund, Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change, Black Women's Agenda and American Association of University Women. With over 500 chapters with more than 85,000 members in the United States, Bermuda, the Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Germany and Korea, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. is committed to improve the quality of life for its members and the society it serves.
Visit our National Site
Since its inception, Sigma Gamma Rho has promoted unity among women and for years many alumnae chapters worked with individuals who were not members of Greek-lettered organizations. These women were organized into auxiliaries that had various names until 1954 when the sorority officially approved the organized affiliate group and accepted the name of "Philo" (meaning Friend) as their official name.
In 1980 the Philos were organized on a national level and have grown to represent hundreds of women organized on a regional level as well. The Philos have contributed countless hours of community service and thousands of dollars to aid Sigma Gamma Rho's aim to enhance the quality of life within every community.
The Rhoer Club
A love for youth and the development of their full potential was the primary motivating factor that inspired Founder Mary Lou Allison Gardner Little to organize Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Young people today face challenges that could never have been imagined years ago, but such challenges provide the sorority with opportunities to carry on the vision of Little. Rhoers are young girls organized on a local, regional and national level. The Rhoer affiliates are working to help other young people while they learn about their heritage and develop leadership skills. Sigma Gamma Rho is dedicated to helping Rhoers to grow to be women of substance dedicated to service.