According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly a third of undergraduate students in the United States are first-generation, defined as those with parent(s) who have not attained a bachelor’s degree. Primarily due to financial challenges, navigating unfamiliar environments, and a lack of on-campus mentorship, first-year retention and graduation rates for first-generation college students are significantly lower than students with parents who attended college.
In an effort to support first-generation college students while complementing and strengthening the Fraternity’s diversity and inclusion efforts, the Phi Delta Theta Foundation will provide $250,000 in academic scholarships for first-generation new members during the 2021–22 academic year. The scholarships will directly impact the financial hardships of first-generation college students and indirectly lower the economic burden of membership into Phi Delta Theta. First-generation students initiated during the upcoming academic year will automatically be eligible to apply for the scholarships with funding dispensed following the conclusion of each semester.
“Being a first-generation college student, Phi Delta Theta provided me with the support I didn’t even know I needed. The intricacies of the higher education environment are hard to navigate alone. My brothers helped me learn how to register for classes, how to fill out a financial aid form, and how to find a good on-campus job. Without this support, I would have persisted, but it would have been a much bumpier road. In addition to the guidance and moral support, these scholarships will offer meaningful financial assistance to ensure a place for first-generation students on their campus and within our brotherhood,” said General Council President Moe Stephens.
In addition to the Foundation’s scholarships for first-generation students, continued educational programming that addresses cultural competency and implicit bias will help shape the membership experience for all new and current members. This programming will include online training for the entire chapter while addressing the economic disparity of individual members and increased officer responsibilities for the chapter’s chaplain to advocate for diversity and inclusion within the chapter, on campus, and in local communities.
The Fraternity’s comprehensive effort will accomplish two important objectives: first, to ensure greater and equitable access to an experience that allows individuals to enhance their personal trajectory through best-in-class leadership programming, mentorship, and community. Second, to broaden the perspective of its members to achieve success in an increasingly diverse and inclusive world.
The success of these important initiatives will be measured annually through the benchmarking of demographic and socioeconomic membership data. The Fraternity will focus on memberships being representative of each campus where there is a Phi Delta Theta chapter. Additionally, Phi Delta Theta’s partner Dyad Strategies will conduct an annual assessment of the Fraternity’s undergraduate members, gauging the lived experience of diverse members and the individual behavior and beliefs of all members surrounding diversity and inclusion.
These initiatives are possible thanks to the generous and visionary support of Phi Delta Theta Foundation donors alongside the direction of the Fraternity’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee; this committee’s review helped reshape the Phi Delt 2030 plan, impacting sixteen goal statements and objectives across five strategic initiatives.
Founded at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, on December 26, 1848, Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity has 194 chapters and emerging chapters and 85 alumni clubs across the United States and Canada. To date, the Fraternity has initiated nearly 280,000 men into the society whose founding principles are Friendship, Sound Learning, and Rectitude. In 2000, Phi Delta Theta became the largest fraternity to implement an alcohol-free housing policy in all facilities. Guided today by its Phi Delt 2030 strategic plan, Phi Delta Theta’s vision is to be recognized as the premier fraternal leadership development society in North America.