Key Club

Key Club

Key Club International is the oldest and largest service program for high school students. It is a student-led organization whose goal is to teach leadership through serving others. Key Club International is a part of the Kiwanis International group. Each local Key Club is, in turn, sponsored by a local Kiwanis club.

The organization was started by California State Commissioner of Schools Albert C. Olney, and vocational education teacher Frank C. Vincent, who together worked to establish the first Key Club at Sacramento High School in California, on May 7, 1925. Female students were first admitted in 1976, eleven years before women were admitted to the sponsoring organization, Kiwanis International.


Key Club tries to offer a range of services to its members: leadership development, study-abroad opportunities, vocational guidance, college scholarships, a subscription to the KEYNOTER magazine, service-learning, personal enrichment, value-added member benefit programs, and liability insurance coverage.

In 2002, Key Club officially adopted caring, character building, inclusiveness, and leadership as the core values of the organization.

Theme and Major Emphasis Program (MEP)

At Key Club International's first convention in 1946, the organization was given the responsibility of instituting a program that would bring together all Key Club's direct members' efforts and energies into an area that would truly make an International impact. This tradition is still followed today through the development of the Theme and Major Emphasis Program (MEP).

Key Club's focus is "Children: Their Future, Our Focus." The Major Emphasis Program is a way to direct the effort of Key Clubbers world wide towards this goal. There are three beneficiaries: Service Partners (UNICEF, March Of Dimes, and Children's Miracle Network), the Service Initiative (Live 2 Learn), and Serving Children.

"Service Initiative

The Service Initiative is a program encouraging hands on service to children aimed towards a common goal. It is changed every two years by the International Board of Trustees.

The 2004-2006 Service Initiative was Child Safety: Water, Bike and Car Safety where Key Clubbers participated in different educational events to try to spread safe habits to prevent accidental deaths.

The 2006-2008 Service Initiative was "High Five for Health." It is aimed at reducing childhood obesity and fighting a rising trend that appears to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. The 2008-2010 Service Initiative is "Live 2 Learn." It is focused on 5-9 year old youth, with the main goals of promoting education and building literary skills.

Service Partners

Key Club encourages volunteering and fund raising for March of Dimes, UNICEF, and the Children's Miracle Network year-round. These 3 organizations are known as Service Partners(formerly Seasons of Service).

Key Club Week

The first full week in November, members promote their clubs with a "Key Club Week." Each day is themed for a different type of service - to children, to the school, to the community, to Key Club (spirit), and a final "Key Club Week Project." The 2008 Key Club Week Project seeks to raise money for Grassroot Soccer, an organization that uses the power of soccer to educate the youth of Africa about the HIV/Aids Epidemic.


The Key Club District organization is patterned after the original Florida District and its parent Kiwanis districts. These organizations hold their own annual conventions for fellowship, to coordinate the efforts of individual clubs, to exchange ideas on Key Clubbing, and to recognize outstanding service of clubs or individuals with appropriate awards.

Today, Key Club exists on almost 5,000 high school campuses, primarily in the United States and Canada. It has grown internationally to the Caribbean nations, Central and South America, and most recently to Asia and Australia.

Key Club International is an organization of individual Key Clubs and is funded by nominal dues paid by every member. Its officers are high school leaders elected by the members at district and international conventions. Official colors Blue, Gold and White                  

Each color symbolized an aspect of the Key Club International objectives:

  • Blue - Unwavering character
  • Gold - Service
  • White - PurityMission statement

"Key Club is an international student-led organization which provides its members with opportunities to provide service, build character, and develop leadership."Vision "To develop competent, capable, and caring leaders through the vehicle of service."Core values The core values of Key Club International are "Leadership, Character Building, Caring, and Inclusiveness."Motto The motto of Key Club is "Caring—Our Way of Life," changed from the original "We Build" in 1978 to better convey members' reasons for helping others.Objectives The Objectives of Key Club are listed below. The sixfold sixth objective of Key Club incorporates the Six Permanent Objects of Kiwanis International as adopted in 1924:

  • To develop initiative and leadership.
  • To provide experience in living and working together.
  • To serve the school and community.
  • To cooperate with the school principal.
  • To prepare for useful citizenship.
  • To accept and promote the following ideals:
    • To give primacy to the human and spiritual rather than to the material values of life.
    • To encourage the daily living of the Golden Rule in all human relationships.
    • To promote the adoption and application of higher standards in scholarship, sportsmanship and social contacts.
    • To develop, by precept and example, a more intelligent, aggressive, and serviceable citizenship.
    • To provide a practical means to form enduring friendships, to render unselfish service, and to build better communities.
    • To cooperate in creating and maintaining that sound public opinion and high idealism which make possible the increase of righteousness, justice, patriotism, and good will.

The organization maintains strong partnerships with UNICEF, AYUSA Global Youth Exchange, the March of Dimes, and Children's Miracle Network Telethon. Through the partnership with UNICEF, a major initiative was launched in the summer of 2005 to address HIV/AIDS education and prevention in Kenya. Pledge I pledge, on my honor,
to uphold the Objects of Key Club International;
to build my home, school and community;
to serve my nation and God;
and combat all forces which tend to undermine these institutions.



In California during the twenties, adults were concerned with the pernicious side of high school fraternities and sought some means of replacing them with more wholesome activity for youth.

Two men in the Sacramento Kiwanis club, who were high school administrators, approached their club with the idea of a junior service club in the high school, to be patterned after Kiwanis to hold luncheon meetings. Through this group in the high school, the Kiwanis club hoped to provide vocational guidance, first to boys who had decided upon their future occupation, and then to the entire school. The plan was presented to the Board of Education, and following its approval, the first Key Club meeting was held early in May 1925.

The club held weekly luncheons in the school, where Kiwanians came to speak to the group on various vocations. Key Club members attended Kiwanis meetings as guests of the club to enhance further the value of Key Club membership by bringing high school students into constant contact with the business and professional men of the community. As the experience of the Key Club grew, a noticeable trend toward expanding the original purpose and activity was found possible, and the club was soon a complete service organization for the whole school. It also offered a social program to balance its service activities.

Early development

Through contact with the Sacramento Key Club and Kiwanis Club, other Kiwanis groups soon became interested in the activity and sponsored similar organizations in their own communities. Such information was sent out and principals in various parts of the country were responsible for organizing similar groups in their own schools with the help of their local Kiwanis clubs. Practically all Key Club expansion which took place during the next fifteen years was accomplished in this way. By that time fifty clubs were functioning in California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

In 1939 the first plan for combining individual local Key Clubs into federated groups was developed in Florida. With Kiwanis counsel, a convention of existing clubs was held, a state association formed, and officers elected. The purpose of the State Association was to promote an exchange of ideas concerning the Key Club activity and to expand the number of Key Clubs. Conventions were held each succeeding year, and when the International Constitution and Bylaws were adopted in 1946, the Florida Association became the first Key Club district.

Florida was instrumental also in promoting the formation of an International Association of Key Clubs to perform for the entire country what the Florida Association had done for Key Clubs in that state. In 1943, at the invitation of the Florida boys, Key Clubbers from clubs in Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Tennessee were in attendance at the annual convention of the State Association held in Sanford, Florida. The representatives voted to form an International Association of Key Clubs and elected Malcolm Lewis of West Palm Beach, Florida, as first President.

Three formative years followed, during which the outlines of the present Key Club International organization were drawn. Lewis served one year and was followed in office by Eddie Richardson of Ft. Lauderdale, and Roger Keller of New Orleans. Keller presided over the third annual convention in New Orleans on April 27, 1946, at which time delegates from all parts of the country approved the Constitution and Bylaws, officially launching Key Club International.

The Key Club was early recognized as a local Kiwanis project, and no attempt was made to control its overall organization. In 1942 the Kiwanis International Board of Trustees recommended Key Club to all Kiwanis clubs. In 1944 a special Kiwanis International Committee on Sponsored Youth Organizations was formed to look after Key Club work. Finally, in 1946, a separate Key Club Department was created in the International Office of Kiwanis International to serve as a clearing house for Key Club information, to keep the records and handle correspondence of the organization, to provide effective liaison between Key Clubs and Kiwanis, and to conduct the annual International conventions. Now the Key Club Department also handles a monthly publication--KEYNOTER--which was first issued in May 1946. The Kiwanis International Committee on Key Clubs was formed on January 1, 1949.

Present status

In May 1925, Key Club became an "International" organization. In 2008, there were clubs located throughout North America and the Caribbean area. Thousands of students belonged.

The Florida District is the oldest district in Key Club International.

Kia Albertson-Rogers is currently the President of Key Club International.

In 2005, KCI added the Caribbean Atlantic District.

The Key Club at James Martin High School in Arlington, TX, with 677 members as of April 30, 2006, is the largest local chapter in the world.

The California-Nevada-Hawaii District Key Club International is the largest district as of May 2008.

Notable former Key Club members

Past presidents

  1. Malcolm Lewis 1943-4, West Palm Beach, Florida
  2. Bill Nelson 1961-2, Melbourne, Florida
  3. Kia Albertson-Rogers 2008-9


External links

District Websites

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