Literacy & Pi Beta Phi
Pi Beta Phi’s commitment to literacy dates 100 years to the founding of the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School in Gatlinburg, Tennessee in 1912. Pi Phi was solely responsible for all education in Gatlinburg from 1912–1969 and the Pi Beta Phi Elementary School stands today as a testament to the legacy of Pi Phi in that mountain community.
The Settlement School in Gatlinburg was a bold and courageous move requiring a significant financial commitment at a time when women had few financial resources of their own. Over the next 100 years, Pi Phi’s commitment to literacy morphed into new programs and initiatives, taking literacy to the neediest communities and schools in America as well as the northernmost parts of Canada in the Northwest, Nunavut and Yukon Territories.
Does literacy matter today?
- 75 percent of welfare recipients, 85 percent of unwed mothers and 60 percent of prison inmates are illiterate, costing an estimated $20 billion per year.
- Increasing high school graduation rates by just one percent would save $1.4 billion in costs associated with jails and prisons.
- Illiteracy is a leading factor in homelessness, domestic abuse, poverty and lack of healthcare.
At the 2011 Convention, Pi Beta Phi unveiled its 100-year literacy vision: Pi Beta Phi leads the way to a more literate society. Read. Lead. Achieve.® is the culmination of that vision. It’s Pi Phi’s own unique take on literacy philanthropy: a Pi Phi parade that, over the coming years, can bring organizations and projects into and out of Pi Phi’s literacy agenda as social priorities and needs dictate. For more information on Pi Beta Phi's Read. Lead. Achieve. initiatives, click here.
Beginning in 2012, all chapter and alumnae organization financial support for Pi Phi literacy efforts come together under The Literacy Fund at
Pi Beta Phi Foundation. The collective financial resources of Pi Phi’s fight for literacy will be harnessed and targeted at the programs where they can have the most impact. Gifts to The Literacy Fund support all Pi Phi literacy initiatives under Read. Lead. Achieve., including Champions are Readers®, Arrow in the Arctic, Fraternity Day of Service, Pi Phi’s First Book® Partnership and much more.
Click here to make a gift to The Literacy Fund or call (636) 256–1357 for more information. If you are making a donation by check, please make it payable to
Pi Beta Phi Foundation, with The Literacy Fund in the memo line.
Chapters and alumnae organizations making donations to literacy should use the FT-1 and FT-2 Gift Forms, located in the Resource Library.