The University of Rhode Island chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity is in the preliminary stage of planning for their first talent competition, entitled “Rhode to Stardom”, set to take place in 2016.

This fall is Phi Kappa Psi’s fifth semester back on campus, and the brothers are still working on creating a name for themselves. URI sophomore Austin Shission, vice president of Phi Kappa Psi and chairman of the talent competition, explained how most of the fraternities and sororities at URI have an event that defines them, yet Phi Kappa Psi is still working on establishing this recognition.

“Last fall, we tried to think of an event we could do that could make us known and continue through the years,” Shission said. “Something original that could open up to a lot of people.”

Shission said that he wanted to incorporate Phi Kappa Psi’s three core values of the fraternity: academics, philanthropy and a sense of fun. He pondered what the brotherhood could do to reach out to the community while still having fun, and decided on the talent competition. The competition will be open to all elementary school, middle school, high school and undergraduate students across the country. The winner of the competition will receive a scholarship, with the amount depending on fundraising success.

The competition will be split into three rounds. The preliminary plan is that applications will be open on April 1, 2016 through July 31, 2016. Applicants will be asked to pay a small application fee and submit a video, which the fraternity will vote on. The second round will take place live on campus and result in eliminations next September. Lastly, the third and final round will determine the winner in October of 2016 with special celebrity guest judges. Shission said the number of people who will move onto the third round solely depends on how successful the competition is and how many people initially apply.

Proceeds from the show, including ticket sales, various other events and donations, will go toward three different charities. These proceeds will be split between Phi Kappa Psi’s national charity, the Boys and Girls Club of America, as well as Habitat for Humanity and Summer Stars camp. One week ago, the fraternity started a GoFundMe page to start with initial fundraising for the scholarship. Shission said the application fee will partly go toward the scholarship and partly toward the charities.

Shission said two members of the Phi Kappa Psi chapter at the University of California, Berkeley campus planned a similar event in just 30 days and were able to raise $25,000. Shission believes that with 15 members of the URI chapter planning out this event nine months in advance they have the possibility to raise an incredible amount of money, incorporate their philanthropy, help students and give away a scholarship.  

To promote Rhode to Stardom, the 15-member committee has created a website, along with various social media accounts. Shission said that their GoFundMe page has already received over $200 in donations in just one week. The brotherhood is reaching out to major companies for sponsorships and Phi Kappa Psi alumni for donations.

He explained that since the application is open to students across the country, the committee will start by actively promoting in every college and high school in the New England area, and will ask for help from other Phi Kappa Psi chapters across the nation to get the word out.

“We want to promote education and stress not promoting education just for college,” Shission said. “We want to make sure everyone understands that there is an importance for education in middle school and high school as well.”

The committee’s next step in this process is to create flyers and contact every college and public school in the state. Shission said that he hopes to talk to radio stations, news stations, and other media organizations to promote the event and potentially have the third round broadcasted on cable TV.

“My goal is to make people realize that fraternities are really there to help others,” Shission said. “There’s a lot of bad publicity in the news recently, even on our own campus, so doing this and reaching out to the younger generation will show that we do care and do want to help them and show that we do reach out to philanthropies while doing our best to help others.”

He explained how no matter how much money the fraternity raises and however this event turns out, he hopes to show the community that Phi Kappa Psi cares about others. Shission also hopes that in the process, he can help get his fraternity’s name out there and establish roots at the university. He said that the fraternity anticipates for the event to be annual and will keep expanding in the future. Although some may think the idea of this competition is unrealistic, Shission believes it is possible to aim big if there is enough determination.

For more information about Rhode to Stardom, visit http://www.rhodetostardom.com or find the event on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To help fundraise, visit their GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/rhodetostardom. Any questions may be submitted on their website.