86 - The Foundation, Honoring Sisters

Long before the Chi Omega Foundation existed, collegiate dues funded the entirety of Chi Omega. As needs change and the desire for more comprehensive programming and support increases, it remains a driving mission for the Chi Omega Foundation to further support the growing and evolving membership of the Fraternity.

What now consists of a highly functioning organization that supports year-round programming, dozens of scholarships, and initiatives for Chi Omega collegians and alumnae once consisted as just one single scholarship.

How the Foundation Began

In 1982 the Chi Omega Foundation was established, and it was through this Foundation that Chi Omega was able to combine the various memorial scholarships the Fraternity had been granting over the previous decade.

Among those scholarships was the Mary Love Collins Memorial Scholarship established after she joined the Omega chapter in 1972 for Sisters, friends, and family to contribute to in support of future scholarship recipients.

Then, in 1977 the Chi Omega Educational Foundation was formed with the work of Margy Lyon, Winnie Bowker, and Diane Del Pizzo. A couple years later the Elizabeth Orman Fund was started after her death and in 1982 was merged with the Mary Love Collins Memorial Scholarship Fund to create what we now know today as the Chi Omega Foundation.

Teter Hyde became the first president of the Chi Omega Foundation, and her philanthropic spirit was a driving force in the establishment of the Foundation. She understood that not every chapter had a strong alumnae base to support them like she and other advisors at Kappa Beta had built. There was a need for chapters in all pockets of the country to have access to resources, regardless of the alumnae support that may or may not exist in their area. By establishing the Foundation, resources were able to be allocated to chapters that needed training, support, or supplies.

Margaret “Teter” Hyde, photo courtesy of Rhodes College Digital Repertory

Teter had the vision to know the Fraternity needed to actively plan for the future. Coming off the 70s and early 80s there was a major decline in membership in Greek organizations. The establishment of the Foundation was crucial in our efforts to offer continuous support while remaining relevant in a swiftly changing nation and ensuring growth for years to come.

The Role of the Chi Omega Foundation Today

Today, Chi Omega alumnae, collegiate members, and friends of Chi Omega are able to support the Foundation through tax-deductible charitable giving, benefitting Sisters of all ages. Gifts to the Chi Omega Foundation are used to deliver life-changing grants, scholarships, leadership training, risk management programming, member development and education, and to provide resources to support the strategic needs of the Fraternity. The Chi Omega Foundation exists to support the needs of the Fraternity and its members.

Countless Sisters have dedicated their lives to building this avenue of support for the Fraternity including Melanie Shain, Jane Rogers, Shelley Potter, and Letitia Fulkerson to name a few. Contributions to the Foundation provide the margin of excellence to deliver life-changing scholarships, grants, educational and leadership programs, as well as tools and resources to the Fraternity’s membership.

“The Foundation aims to keep Chi Omega in a position to have the freedom and flexibility to respond to what our collegians and alumnae need,” says Sally Kimball, Executive Vice President of the Foundation.

For decades, the strategic plan for the Foundation and Fraternity is what has set Chi Omega apart and allowed for the organization to thrive for years to come. Today’s highly intentional, supported initiatives include:

The Nancy Walton Laurie Leadership Institute of Chi Omega: Chi Omega’s premier leadership training program. Topics such as values and ethics help develop our members into leaders in their communities, careers, and campuses.

Spring 2019 Nancy Walton Laurie Leadership Institute of Chi Omega, Flagship Session attendees

Scholarships and Grants: Academic achievement is a top priority for Chi Omega.

Decision Making and Risk Management: Chi Omega’s nationally recognized leadership in confronting alcohol abuse on campus has reached thousands in combating this significant threat to Greek Life.

Chi Omega Executive Headquarters: This extraordinary facility in Memphis is owned and maintained by the Chi Omega Foundation. In 1990 it was voted to purchase property in Memphis, Tennessee after reviewing four other property possibilities. Two years later, the Foundation launched the campaign that would fund the Chi Omega Executive Headquarters, and in June 1995 the building was dedicated and marked a milestone of 100 years of Chi Omega!

Ground breaking ceremony at Chi Omega Executive Headquarters
Chi Omega Executive Headquarters

Helping Hands Fund for Disaster Relief: This fund was created to help Chi Omega Alumnae and collegians who are suddenly in financial need due to Presidentially-declared disasters.

Helping Hands Fund: Through this program, we are able to come to the aid of alumnae at times of crisis.

Communication and Technology Infrastructure: We provide a technological infrastructure that is the daily lifeline of Chi Omega’s numerous member services and resources.

What’s to Come for the Foundation

The Chi Omega Foundation Trustees recently announced the appointment of volunteer leaders to help plan and implement the Foundation’s efforts to build financial support for the Fraternity’s educational resources moving forward.

When it comes to Sisters wanting to be a part of the work being done, there really is no shortage of highly skilled women ready to step up.

Steering Committee members include: Nancy Curran Shields, Tau Alpha/Ohio U; Jan Lemons Heck, Lambda/Kansas; Corinna Young Casey, Ph.D., Kappa Lambda/UC–San Diego; Lynn Horak McBee, Iota/Texas; Stephanie Ligon Olmsted, Chi Epsilon/ Evansville; and Cathey Simmons Humphreys, Epsilon Alpha/ Oklahoma. In the center: Erin Chambers Packwood, Psi Zeta/ Houston; Karen Longridge Cullen, Eta/Michigan; and Maggie Michaels DeCan, Eta/Michigan. In back: Betty Whelchel, Mu Beta/ Georgia; Kim Siebers Cornetet, Chi/Transylvania; Ann Bradshaw, Tau Beta/Oklahoma State; Susan Miller Bush, Pi/Tennessee; and Sabrina Lahiri, M.D., Mu/UC–Berkeley.

Led by Ann Bradshaw, Tau Beta/Oklahoma State, the group’s role will include providing thoughtful insight and input, leading by example, being engaged and informed advocates of the Foundation and its purpose. In addition, members will extend the reach of the Foundation by opening doors and making visits to share the story of donor impact.

When we asked Sally Kimball what she was most looking forward to in the upcoming endeavors for the Foundation she said, “I’m most excited about the bold strategic plan and core volunteers that will be stepping forward to work alongside us.”

This upcoming work from the Foundation will focus on growing The 1895 Society and building endowment resources, further solidifying Chi Omega’s stability for years to come.

Give Now

We invite you to show your gratitude for Sisters who were impactful in your Chi Omega journey by making a gift in their honor.

Your gift of $10 or more to Chi Omega will instantly let a Sister know you care. After completing your gift, a note will be emailed to each person you honor to let them know how much they mean to you. We encourage you to participate and also share about who you honor on social media using the hashtag #celebrateyoursisters