The dedicated men of the Beta Theta Boule’ Foundation awarded five local scholars with college textbook scholarships and recognized non-profits for their ongoing contributions to the community.
For 18 years, The Beta Theta Boule’ Foundation has sponsored a “Father’s Day” and fundraising gala at the Crowne Plaza in downtown Knoxville. College-bound high school scholars, fathers, and others were highlighted. The event included a banquet meal, speakers, special guests, and live music that wrapped up with socializing and dancing.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced mass public and private shutdowns, which included the cancellation of the Boule’s Father’s Day Banquet. The nation’s graduates were robbed of their long-expected graduation, prom, and other celebrations.
Encumbrances brought on by the pandemic only motivated members of the Boule’ Foundation to pivot and find a way to enrich the experience of a few college-bound high school graduates. During this time Knox County schools were closed making it difficult to identify deserving student recipients to honor. Boule members sought help from ProjectGRAD Knoxville to identified five superlative graduating high school seniors from Austin-East Magnet and Fulton High Schools who plan to enter college this year.
After virus safety precautions were established a delayed presentation was set for September 2020. Haley Heritage Park in East Knoxville was the ideal venue for the occasion. It is an outdoor venue that allows for social distancing with a bonus inspiration from the presence of a majestic bronze statue of another scholar – Tennessee’s own, world-renowned author Alex Haley.
Five college-bound students in the presence of a proud family member were honored with $400 book scholarships for college. They were:
- Rachel Sagay, Austin-East High
- JeTori Howard, Fulton High School
- Amauri Adams, A-E
- Treyvon Foster, A-E
- Zayna Muhammad, A-E
The scholarships were for $400, but the wisdom imparted was priceless. The presenters bestowed nuggets of wisdom and offered themselves as consults to the students in the days and years to come on their journey.
The greatest mission of the Beta Theta Boule’ is our interaction with youth and helping them to be successful,” said Dennis Upton chapter president. They check on them and visit during breaks, and provide assistance as needed. The group also funds the $2,500 annual Zavion Dobson Scholarship according to Upton, and Covid caused a reduction in the $1,000 book scholarship.
Hallerin Hill was the featured speaker. Hill put the students on notice. He let them know that the book scholarships were more than money, “it’s a down payment on what’s possible for your life, and what we believe is possible in you. We believe in you, are for you and with you.” Hill also encouraged them to reach out to members of the Boule’ as an ally and a resource and encouraged them to benefit from their wisdom, experience, and life lessons.
Asst. Professor of Education at UT-Knoxville and recently appointed UT diversity equity, and inclusion, Dr. Dorian McCoy urged the students to come to him if they needed guidance or anything in any way, his door is always open. McCoy addressed students individually on how he will be helping them, including connecting them with mentors of color in their chosen field of study.
The civic grants acknowledged two non-profit organizations that have demonstrated sustained educational services to youth and the elderly within inner-city communities. They were; Covenant Counseling Services, LLC owners Donna and Charles Mitchell. They offer a multi-cultural staff of counselors specific to children, which includes in-home therapy and family group counseling. It has served the Department of Child and Family Services and has expanded services to clients with private and Tenncare insurance coverage. Among their goals is to interrupt the mental cycle of poverty, systemic racism, and economic oppression.
HOPE Summer Garden & STEM Instruction Program in Blount County was established by Logan Hill. Students earn a stipend spending the summer gardening. The harvest is shared with senior citizens in the Blount County community.
The Beta Theta Boule’ chapter and Foundation is a philanthropic 501(c)3 non-profit. It was a recipient of the East Tennessee Foundation 2020 Youth Endowment Grant. Donations are tax-deductible. For more information email Dennis Upton, President; at Druhead@charter.net.
Sigma Pi Phi is the first successful and oldest Black Greek-lettered organization. Sigma Pi Phi was founded in 1904. The fraternity quickly established chapters referred to as “member Boulés” which means “a council of noblemen.”