Iota Phi Theta Supports Homeless
By Dianne Anderson
Anthony Daniels is one of the small minority of Black male public school teachers in the country, and he has a good reason why.
He never saw a Black male teacher until the eighth grade.
Growing up in San Bernardino came with its share of social and academic challenges, but he was thrilled to see a role model who looked like him. When he did, it had a life-changing impact.
Because Black kids frequently deal with negative situations throughout school, he said students can’t relate to teaching as a career, and they are barely aspiring to go on to a four-year college.
Without role models, they feel disconnected from the opportunity.
Daniels, 26, grew up in the rough part of the city, not far from Arroyo High School, where guns popped through the night.
“It’s sad to say it didn’t feel extraordinary. It was normal because it happened so often. I was just synthesized to the idea,” said Daniels, currently an elementary school teacher with a degree in psychology.
Probably not by coincidence, his favorite subject to teach is math. The only Black teacher happened to be a math teacher, but was also the coordinator for AVID. Daniels said his teacher was a powerful influence, always pushing him to succeed, and wouldn’t let up.
“He didn’t have to do that. He felt the need to do that,” Daniels said.
African American teachers are few and far between, representing about seven percent of the national K-12 average.
Initially, Daniels expected to teach college-level psychology, but seeing the absence of Black teachers at the elementary school level made him rethink his goals. He wanted to reach students in the same way that helped shape his self-development and career choice.
Today, Daniels also gives back to the community through Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, part of the national Black Greek organizations “Divine Nine” with a chapter at CSUSB, a few in Los Angeles, and others in San Diego.
Often, they pull together for the community, buy food, make sandwiches with fruit and water bottles, and head out for sack lunch drives. Or, they get together to collect and distribute personal hygiene to pass out to the local homeless around the city.
Wherever they see a need, they pick a spot in the community, and frequently go out for clean-up days to address blight.
This year, he said the Iota graduate chapters are especially involved in partnering for scholarships. The group is on track to set up funds to help out with books, not just for the fraternity brothers, but incoming freshmen that are usually overwhelmed with the cost of books and other expenses.
“We were thinking $500 to $1000 on books because a lot of us knew that coming into school, the books cost so much,” he said.
Grants are available, such as the state’s www.calgrants.org with up to $12,000 free money each year for four years that never needs to be paid back. Daniels said many students still do not know about those grants or FAFSA.
They end up chasing after costly loans instead, although they qualify for financial aid because loans are more publicized than scholarships, he said.
Even in-house scholarships are not widely discussed. He said he has talked to people who work at the county level that donate funds to students, but it’s not being accessed by the students.
“They tell me that they donate $60,000 toward scholarships and it’s wasted every year because students are not applying for them. We go straight to the loans,” he said.
Raising awareness for students is important. A few organizations are dedicated to helping students come into college and understand EOP and Calgrant benefits. He wonders how many of the 800 Black students in the annual IE Black Grad event hosted by CSUSB actually understand how to fill out the FAFSA and what the numbers mean.
The other issue may be a level of distrust. Students don’t believe that the $12,000 a year is free.
“When it comes to a loan that the catch is I have to pay this back. With Calgrant, it’s like what’s the catch?” he said.
The only catch is that the application must be filled out in the senior high school year no later than the March 2 deadline, but sooner is better. Calgrants.org started taking applications in October.
Most low-income students qualify.
Coming up, the Iotas are also excited to help out at the Akoma Unity Center for Christmas, where the Frat brothers will get together to pass out toys and clothes to the kids. They are also contributing to a skid row Christmas homeless event in support of another frat brother who is leading that project.
The fraternity has an affinity to help the homeless, of which there is no shortage in the city. He is seeking out other organizations to assist in their efforts to outreach at the highest points of need.
In 2019, the local chapter is expanding a number of projects in the works, but he sees a growing need to get more resources redistributed back to the community.
“Maybe [to get] knowledge of more shelters, or places where homeless people reside. It would be nice to get in touch with more nonprofits who may have resources to assist us with our sack lunch drives,” he said.
To help or partner with Iota Fraternity Homeless Outreach, contact Daniels at firstname.lastname@example.org