In 2006, under the leadership of Rho Zeta Omega President Brenda Jordan, discussions began on the need to increase funds necessary to sponsor Rho Zeta Omega’s chapter programs. In keeping with the hallmark of the chapter’s founding principles: Sisterhood, Service and Scholarship, members sought a means to effectively solicit corporate sponsors and donations in an effort to enhance the Sorority’s impact in the local community. Chapter members agreed that the establishment of a 501©(3) foundation would allow members to fund programs benefitting the local community while offering a tax deduction to potential donors. As a result, the following members began working towards bringing the idea of a foundation to fruition: Kimberley Boyd, Emma Byrd, Tommye Campbell, Joyce Hendricks, Gwen Jones, Brenda Jordan, Rowena McDaniel, Gloria Nichols, Sharon Nixon, Jennifer Turner and Caryn Young.
The chapter held a contest among its members to create a name for the foundation. The PEARL Foundation, Inc., where PEARL stands for People Educating and Reshaping Lives, was submitted by member Ivey McCloud. The selected entry captured the very essence of both the chapter’s mission of Sisterhood, Service and Scholarship. Attorney Sharon Nixon, a member of Rho Zeta Omega, worked with the group to draft and file the articles of incorporation, bylaws and a conflict-of-interest policy. The PEARL Foundation was incorporated on September 6, 2006.
In 2007, member Rowena McDaniel, took the lead to complete the work necessary to apply to the I.R.S. for The PEARL Foundation’s 501c3 status. Subsequently, the foundation’s Board of Directors was established. Rowena McDaniel was elected President, Kimberley Boyd was elected Vice President, Brenda Jordan was elected Treasurer and Jennifer Turner was elected Secretary.
Sharon Nixon’s law firm, Kilpatrick Stockton, LLC, agreed to provide assistance on a gratis basis and with the help of Attorney Adj Awotwi, the 1023 Application for Recognition of Exemption was completed and submitted to the I.R.S. on July 3, 2008. On October 10, 2008, The PEARL Foundation, Inc. was granted 501©(3) status. Rho Zeta Omega President, Gloria Nichols, made the exciting announcement to chapter members at the October 2008 chapter meeting.
Through the years, The PEARL Foundation, Inc. continued to blossom in its programming and fundraising activities. The community began to quickly notice the foundation and awards were soon to follow. In 2011, Wells Fargo honored the foundation with a grant for its community involvement at the company’s Days of Giving Celebration. Pat Vaughn, Mayor of Powder Springs, gave the foundation and Rho Zeta Omega chapter a proclamation in 2012 for their work with the Emerging Young Leaders Program at Tapp Middle School. The foundation in collaboration with Rho Zeta Omega was recognized in 2016 by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce as an Outstanding Partner in Education and the Marietta City Schools also recognized both organizations with the Angel Award for their work as a Partner in Education.
Another hallmark of the foundation is its commitment to scholarship. As of 2022, The PEARL Foundation, Inc. in collaboration with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Rho Zeta Omega Chapter, have awarded over $455,000 in scholarships and continue to sponsor community programs impacting the lives of students, families and seniors in the community. The PEARL Foundation, Inc. has been effectively led by three presidents since 2008. Rowena McDaniel served the organization from 2008 to 2011, Gloria Nichols served from 2011 to 2021 and Stacy L. Grooms began serving in 2021 and is the current president. The PEARL Foundation, Inc. continues to grow and expand its reach in the community and looks forward to continuing to touch many more lives in the state of Georgia.