Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, the oldest Greek-letter organization established by black college women in America, was founded in 1908 on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. The idea was conceived by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle who viewed the sorority "as an instrument for enriching the social and intellectual aspects of college life by providing mental stimulation through interaction with friends and associates." The small group of women who organized the sorority was conscious of a privileged position as college-trained women of color, just one generation removed from slavery. They resolved that their college experiences should be as meaningful and productive as possible. Alpha Kappa Alpha was founded to apply that determination, however, its influence extends beyond campus quads and student recreational interests. It has a legacy of service that expands, rather than ends, with college graduation.
The goals of its program activities center on significant issues involving families, communities, government halls and world assembly chambers. Its efforts constitute a priceless part of the global experience in the 21st century. Since its founding over a century ago, Alpha Kappa Alpha’s mission has been to cultivate and encourage high scholastic and ethical standards, to promote unity and friendship among college women. The sorority seeks to study and to help alleviate problems concerning girls and women in order to improve their social stature, to maintain a progressive interest in college life, and to be of “Service to All Mankind".