IRS Partnership—Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA)
With so many tax benefits available today, taxes can serve as the starting point leading to greater prosperity for many people. In 2000, the IRS changed its approach to meeting individual taxpayers’ needs for tax education, awareness and assistance by establishing an office called SPEC (Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication). In 2008 IRS-SPEC cultivated a partnership with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated and shared mutual goals in three key areas:
* Promoting tax understanding and awareness
* Preparing tax returns for free for low-to-moderate income people
* Encouraging personal asset building and self-sufficiency through tax incentives
Mission Statement: To assist taxpayers in satisfying their tax responsibilities through collaborative efforts with IRS-SPEC and thus creating and sharing value by informing, educating and communicating with members of the community.
The International Headquarters of Phi Beta Sigma will strive to achieve this mission by:
* Supporting volunteer-based initiatives to address underserved community segments, primarily through awareness campaigns and free tax preparation
* Reaching out to our customers through trained Sigma personnel
* Supporting fully this partnership
* Leveraging our resources to reach rural as well as urban tax payers.
Bro. Charles “Chuck” Wongus is many things, but first of all, he is a Lancer. A senior music major who hails from Chester, Va., he has made big impacts on campus through his involvement with a countless number of organizations.
But just who is this man? And what are his goals for life after Longwood?
Wongus has served as president of Phi Beta Sigma, treasurer of freshman class, as a member of History Club and the Political Science Club, has participated in Alternative Spring Break and has worked as a Resident Assistant as well.
The list of accomplishments Wongus has received while at Longwood University include receiving the title of RA of the Month for his programming skills and for building a community, not only on his floor, but throughout the entire apartment complex.
During this year’s national presidential campaign, Wongus also registered voters at Longwood and oversaw canvassing efforts as Canvassing Captain for Prince Edward County at the Obama for America Office on Main Street.
With all of his involvement on campus, Wongus holds a 3.0 cumulative GPA and a 3.31 GPA in his music major.
As a music major, Wongus stated that his favorite music genre is jazz. Wongus’ favorite jazz artists include Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie.
Wongus stated that out of all of the organizations that he has been a part of and that he is currently a part of, Phi Beta Sigma and WMLU have been his favorites.
“With Phi Beta Sigma, I really enjoyed the opportunity to give back to the community,” said Wongus. “One of my favorite things we did was the [first annual] Young Men’s Conference. We brought in young men from the surrounding counties and pretty much educated them on things that they could do after high school, whether it be college [or something else].”
During his time as president of Phi Beta Sigma, Wongus also helped the organization receive the title of National Pan-Hellenic Council Chapter of the Year.
Speaking on WMLU, Wongus said, “WMLU is pretty fun because it’s nice to, you know, have that time to have your own radio show – really give the campus and the community a bit of your personality.”
Not only incredibly involved on campus, Wongus also commented on his connection to the town of Farmville as well.
“I like to go around Farmville and visit the eateries that we have. My personal favorite would be The Bakery, and as of late, I really love the Sweet Shop as well,” said Wongus.
As a member of the Lancer nation, Wongus also supports the men’s basketball team.
“This season, it’s been rough to support them,” he said. “But toward the end, I really enjoy watching them ...especially during the tournament.”
Out on the national spectrum of sports, Wongus supports the St. Louis Rams for the National Football League and the Florida State Seminoles for college football.
Wongus is looking at going to George Mason University after his time at Longwood is up. He plans on spending his time there to gain a Master’s Degree in Social Work.
“I’d like to work for a non-profit organization that aids teenagers and [works toward aiding] suicide prevention,” said Wongus.
Political commentator Armstrong Williams completed negotiations to acquire the stations in Michigan and South Carolina.
Armstrong Williams, the nationally known political commentator and columnist has completed negotiations to acquire television stations in Flint, MI, and Myrtle Beach, SC. The acquisition by his firm, Howard Stirk Holdings, LLC, is part of the larger purchase of the Barrington Broadcast Group, LLC holdings by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.
For more than 20 years, Williams has been producing and hosting high-quality public affairs and entertainment programming for the broadcast industry, including for Sinclair. Williams has also served as the Chief Operating Officer of the Renaissance TV Cable Network (2001-2003), where he managed staff, programming, advertising and the development of prime-time specials. He has been a frequent guest on national programs and networks that include “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Charlie Rose,” CNN, MSNBC, Sky News, DC TV and the “Joy Behar Show.”
Williams has also produced many prime-time specials with national and international leaders, such as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Poet Maya Angelou, former Vice-President Dick Cheney, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Today’s announcement fulfills a life-long dream to own and operate broadcast facilities and give back to an industry that I love,” said Williams. “I have been privileged to work with the Sinclair Broadcast Group for years and I am truly thankful for the opportunity it has provided. Many in the industry talk about diversity and expanding opportunity, but here the Sinclair Broadcast Group is putting words into action,” Williams added.
The name “Howard Stirk” is taken from my mother’s maiden name, Howard, and my father’s middle name, Stirk, Williams explained.
“Knowing the humble, hard-scrabble beginnings of my family in rural South Carolina, I felt honoring my parents in this small way was the right thing to do,” he concluded.
A native of Marion, South Carolina, Williams attended South Carolina State University. He is a lifetime member of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and served on the President’s Commission on White House Fellows appointed by President Bush from 2001-2005. He presently serves on the Independence Federal S&L Bank, the Carson Scholarship Fund, and the NEWSMAX Advisory boards.
Sinclair currently owns and operates programs or provides sales services to 87 television stations in 47 markets. Sinclair’s television group reaches approximately 27.1% of U.S. television households and includes FOX, ABC, MyTV, CW, CBS, NBC and Azteca affiliates. The transaction is subject to approval by the Federal Communications Commission and antitrust authorities. Following those approvals, Howard Stirk Holdings, LLC anticipates a closing by the summer.
Hard work pays off for alum on State Police Protective Detail
Redbird alumnus Ardis D. Cross, left, poses with President Al Bowman at an event. (Courtesy photo)
If you want something in life, you have to go get it.
Ardis D. Cross ’00 learned that simple lesson as a kid growing up near Kankakee in Hopkins Park, one of the poorest rural communities in Illinois. That’s where he watched his parents work their butts off without a high school diploma, where Cross himself worked part-time jobs in extreme weather so he could buy his first car. It’s the kind of place, he says, where you have to work harder than everyone else to make it.
And that’s what Cross did. The Redbird alum is now in his 11th year with the Illinois State Police (ISP), the last six with an Executive Protection Unit that provides security for a statewide elected official.
“Being with the ISP has afforded me the opportunities to travel all over the state, to see and meet various people, as well as to see various places, some I’m sure I would not have seen had it not been for the ISP,” Cross told STATEside. “It’s been amazing, getting that kind of exposure to so many different things. It’s a blessing.”
Alumnus Ardis D. Cross, left, poses with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dinner speaker Van Jones in February. (Courtesy photo)
Cross’ journey into law enforcement started at Illinois State. He was a College of Business major in human resource management, staying busy with leadership roles in the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., the National Pan Hellenic Council, and the National Association of Black Accountants, among others.
Like any new college student, he was struck by his newfound independence. But he got some help staying disciplined as a mentee (and later mentor) with a program now known as Diversity Advocacy, and through the TRiO/Student Support Services program for first-generation students.
“I had good role models,” Cross said.
One of his fraternity brothers recruited him to the State Police at an ISU career fair. Cross was hesitant at first—he was an HR major, with no particular interest in law enforcement—but the recruiter told him the State Police offered a career, not just a job. So he gave it a shot anyway, took a physical fitness test, and by summer 2002 was working tollway patrol in the Chicago area. That lasted five years.
Cross’ current assignment requires him to spend countless hours protecting his dignitary. That means Cross’ schedule is their schedule, “meaning there’s no week that’s the same,” Cross says.
“Our main responsibility is to ensure their safety,” Cross said. “There’s no such thing as routine.”
On the job, Cross, 35, puts the communication skills he learned at Illinois State to good use as he gathers information about, say, the room or building his protectee will be operating in on a particular day.
“That’s what HR is. Dealing with people at all different types of levels,” Cross said.
Despite his schedule, the Illinois State graduate finds time to reach back to the next generation of student and community leaders. Last November, he was the keynote speaker at a “You Can Do ISU” event, where he shared his journey to Illinois State and work ethic with about 700 prospective students.
“That was a humbling experience for me,” said Cross, a member of Illinois State’s Black Colleagues Association. “But when you become successful, you must give back.”
The former substitute teacher also mentors elementary and high school students in Hopkins Park, stressing that they need to take their education as seriously as he did. Cross credits his Illinois State education with preparing him for his career, and he sports his Redbird pride by attending annual events like Homecoming, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dinner, and the Legacy of Leadership celebration.
“You can’t just go through the motions,” Cross said. “You have to make it happen.”
MCNAIR SCHOLARS NAMED: Nayyir Akilah Ransome and Vilien Cordell Gomez were recently inducted into the LSU University College’s McNair Research Scholars program.
McNair Research Scholars is a U.S. Department of Education program that promotes doctoral studies for first-generation college students, students who are from a background of financial need and students from ethnic groups underrepresented in graduate education. LSU University College’s McNair Research Scholars program, which serves about 30 students per year, has some of the highest achieving students nationwide.
Ransome, a sophomore English major, is the daughter of Tracey Ransome, of Baton Rouge. Ransome’s undergraduate research is under the guidance of Susan Weinstein, associate professor of LSU’s Department of English, and explores the effects of youth spoken word in the lives of young adults after their involvement in the Youth Spoken Word Poetry Movement. Ransome assists Weinstein in a book she is writing on the subject.
Gomez, son of Alice Green, of White Castle, participates in the LA-STEM Research Scholars Program, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professors and S-STEM Scholars Program. He conducts research with Xin Li in the LSU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, where he works on developing 3-D shape registration and animation.
Gomez is director of education for Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, Pre-Collegiate Initiative chair for the National Society of Black Engineers and member of the Black Male Leadership Initiative and Honors College.
This morning, President Sidney A. Ribeau announced that President Bill Clinton will be the speaker for the 145th Commencement ceremonies.
William Jefferson Clinton served as the 42nd president for two terms, in 1992 and 1996. During his tenure in office, Clinton’s administration successfully focused on economic expansion as well as job creation. Since The White House, he founded the William J. Clinton Foundation, a nongovernmental organization that focuses on addressing global issues such as Haiti relief, HIV/AIDS care and prevention.
The Arkansas native attended Georgetown University in 1968, where he received the Rhodes Scholarship and joined Kappa Kappa Psi and Phi Beta Kappa. Clinton then went on to Yale Law School, where he met his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former U.S. Secretary of State. In 2009, he was inducted as an honorary member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
“We are thrilled that President Clinton has agreed to deliver this year’s Commencement address,” Ribeau said in the release. “As a preeminent leader, humanitarian and advocate, his extraordinary global work and commitment to public service will inspire the class of 2013 as they prepare to make their mark on the world.”
Commencement orators are chosen through the Office of the Secretary. Last year’s speaker was the U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.
The commencement ceremonies will be held on May 11, 2013 at 10 a.m. on the Upper Quadrangle.
Jonathon Frazier (left) presents an award to Rep. Henry “Hank” Wilkins IV for his outstanding community service. (Special to The Commercial)
Members of Gamma Psi Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., along with Rico McClarity, state director, recently visited the Arkansas State Capitol to pay special recognition to House of Representative members Frederick Love, Henry “Hank” Wilkins IV and James Word for their outstanding community services.
The awards were presented by the chapter’s president, Jonathon Frazier, and Rep. Efrem Elliot.
Frazier said “one of the fraternity’s principle objectives is service. The chapter will continue serving and recognizing those who are making a difference in their local communities.”
The fraternity also provided a free luncheon for members of the House and guests. The trip was a part of the fraternity’s Social Action initiative.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Tau Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated held a “Sigma Feeds the Homeless” cookout event at the Downtown Jimmie Hale Mission in Birmingham, Ala. on Saturday, January 26. As a result, the Sigmas were able to feed up to two hundred people at the local homeless shelter. The “Sigmas Feed the Homeless” service project will now become an additional annual social action effort to promote the organization’s motto of “Culture for Service and Service for Humanity” to help those in need and less fortunate. Because of their initiative, the Tau Sigma Chapter and the Jimmie Hale Mission have established a partnership to serve the homeless and to expand the outreach of community oriented support efforts. “Sigmas Feed the Homeless” also seeks to address the issue of homelessness throughout the city. With this new partnership, as well as support from the public, the Tau Sigma Chapter will be able to support and maintain various community service projects at the same level or greater than the previous year, despite the challenging fund-raising climate. The Tau Sigma Chapter has been proudly serving the Birmingham area since 1949 and looks forward to introducing new social action initiative programs in the near future to build even deeper relationships with the Birmingham community. “Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. recognizes that we are made up of many parts but we make up one community. It is to that end that we are dedicated to the community in which we live,” said Rod Wilkins, President of the Tau Sigma Chapter, Inc. To find out how you can support Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity in this effort and other service projects, please visit the website at http://www.birminghamsigmas.com.
Many of the greek communities on college campuses were chartered in the early 20th century. Historically African-American chapters were not common in the world of predominantly white universities during the initial years of their founding.
The Delta chapter of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, one of these historically African-American chapters, is an organization that was founded nationally in 1914 at Howard University and was brought to K-State in 1917 as the Delta chapter. It was the fourth chapter to be founded nationally.
The chapter will be celebrating its 96th charter anniversary in April 2013. The Delta chapter was founded before the market crash of the 1920s leading into the Great Depression, before the civil rights movement and before the election of the first African-American president. This chapter has been one of the longest-running greek chapters at K-State that has not had to be rechartered off campus.
“It is amazing to be a part of this fraternity and an accomplishment,” said Jeremy Scott, brotherhood chair of the Sigmas and senior in agricultural communication. “We have been around for almost 100 years. It has been a struggle for African-Americans to be able to fight for where they are today. It is an absolute blessing to be a part of this organization.”
When the Sigmas first came to K-State, they owned and lived in a house at 618 Yuma Street. This is the same house Minnie Howell, the first African-American woman to graduate from K-State in 1901, grew up in and inevitably returned to once she knew her life was coming to an end.
After losing that house, the national president of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity bought a house at 1020 Colorado Street. African-Americans during this time were not allowed to live north of Colorado Street.
“It’s a big honor and a responsibility to be a part of this organization,” said Andre Watkins, first vice president of the Sigmas and senior in agricultural technology management. “Being a part of Sigma places in you to be an adult. Even though I like to goof off and have fun, the organization teaches you how to be an adult and when to be professional.”
Delta chapter Sigmas have left a significant impact in the K-State and Manhattan communities, but also on the nation and the world. “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as “The Black National Anthem,” was originally written as poem by James Weldon Johnson, a member of the Delta chapter of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity. Johnson’s brother, J. Rosamond Johnson, later put the poem to music to create the song.
Pat Patton, research specialist for Hale Library, said the Sigmas created a ripple effect. When one brother would join the fraternity, the lives that brother would impact would go on for generations.
“The Sigmas were so involved on campus,” Patton said. “Whether it was writing for the school paper or being involved in literary societies, the Sigmas have left such a significant impact on K-State and Manhattan.”
The hill in Manhattan that has “K” and “S” on it was partially created by a Delta chapter Sigma. In 1921, engineering students plotted out the 80-foot-tall letter “K.” One of the members of that team was a member of Sigma. The letter “S” was added many years later by another group of students. Originally the hill was planned to say “KSU,” but the “U” has never been added.
“Sigma has taught me that it is possible to be historic and be successful,” Watkins said. “Looking at everything my Sigma brothers have done, it allows me to want to be so much better, to do things that they did. Above all else, it makes me want to work harder.”
Phi Beta Sigma is the only historically African-American fraternity that allows non-African-Americans into their organization.
“When I decided to join Sigma, I had done some research on the organization before I decided to join,” said Eddie Gonzalez, second vice president of Sigma and sophomore in political science and sociology. “They were the only ones who didn’t have to change their constitution to allow non-African-Americans into their fraternity. For me being Hispanic, this fraternity welcomed me with open arms.”
Gonzalez explained the bond he feels with his fraternity brothers is based on more than just the fraternity. He said Sigmas are not just members, they are not just statistics, they are family. They are brothers before anything.
“The brotherhood is what brought me in,” Watkins said. “There are a lot of organizations that show brotherhood, but I felt it with this one. Sigmas continually show how important brotherhood is. The bond I felt with these men was automatic.”
Watkins and Scott crossed into the fraternity in spring 2010, and Gonzalez crossed into Sigma in fall 2011. Scott said joining the fraternity has been one of the best experiences of his life.
“Sigma brings positivity to its members and its communities,” Scott said. “We are ourselves. There are no stereotypes that come along with being a Sigma. Sigma doesn’t change us. We may grow as people being a part of this organization, but we never changed because of the organization.”