Kiwanis is an international service organization comprised of 600,000 adult and youth members in 91 nations whose mission is to improve the quality of life for children and families worldwide.
“Serving the Children of the World”
Kiwanis International is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time.
The first Kiwanis club was organized in Detroit, Michigan, in 1915. Kiwanis became international with the organization of the Kiwanis Club of Hamilton, Ontario, in 1916. Kiwanis limited its membership to the United States and Canada until 1962, when worldwide expansion was approved. Since then, Kiwanis has spread to all the inhabited continents of the globe.
Kiwanis was defined as “an organization for men” in the constitution adopted in 1924. Membership was opened to women in 1987, and today women serve in leadership positions at all levels of the organization.
Objects of Kiwanis
The six permanent Objects of Kiwanis International were approved by Kiwanis club delegates at the 1924 Convention in Denver, Colorado. Through the succeeding decades, they have remained unchanged.
- 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 the application of higher social, business, and professional standards.
- To develop, by precept and example, a more intelligent, aggressive, and serviceable citizenship.
- To provide, through Kiwanis clubs, a practical means to form enduring friendships, to render altruistic 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 goodwill.
The Kiwanis Name
The name “Kiwanis” was coined from an expression in an American Indiana language of the Detroit area, “Nunc Kee-wanis,” which means, “we trade” or “we share our talents.”
Kiwanis clubs: 8,445
Kiwanis members: 288,702
Kiwanis members are active or retired business professional men and women. Membership is 83 percent male, 17 percent female. The average Kiwanis member is 57 years old, a college graduate, married, and a homeowner. The average Kiwanian has been a member for 9.6 years.
Any community need can become a Kiwanis service project, especially the needs of children. In the past year, Kiwanis clubs sponsored about 150,000 service projects and raised more than $100 million.
Young Children: Priority One
Since 1991, Kiwanis clubs have endorsed a special service interest in young children from prenatal development to age five called “Young Children: Priority One.” Kiwanis clubs are encouraged to identify and sponsor Young Children projects in four areas of concern:
- Maternal and Infant Health: The health of a mother and child during the first five years affects the child’s entire future. Kiwanis clubs support prenatal care, early childhood development and nutrition programs, and immunizations.
- Child Care and Development: Children need a stimulating, supportive environment to develop. Kiwanis clubs support child-care programs, assist with child-care resources, book reading and giveaway programs, and family-literacy projects.
- Parent Education and Support: Raising a child can be a challenge under the best circumstances. Kiwanis reaches out through parenting newsletters and parent-education programs.
- Safety and Pediatric Trauma: Special equipment and training are required to save young lives. Therefore, Kiwanis clubs support pediatric trauma programs, help fund children’s hospitals, and distribute home-safety checklists.
Kiwanis Worldwide Service Project
In 1994, Kiwanis adopted its first Worldwide Service Project, a $75 million campaign in partnership with the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to eliminate iodine deficiency disorders (IDD). Iodine deficiency is rare in areas where iodized salt is used, but in other parts of the world, IDD is the leading cause of preventable mental and physical retardation. The fund-raising goal was exceeded in September 2001. Kiwanis-raised funds are now at work in more than 90 nations, and these IDD programs are saving millions of children per year from mental retardation.
Kiwanis Sponsored Organizations
As Kiwanis membership has grown and enthusiasm for its service ideals has spread, Kiwanis has created additional volunteer opportunities for people at every stage of life through its sponsored programs.
- Circle K International: Circle K is a service club for collegians and has nearly 13,000 members on more than 500 university and college campuses in 13 nations.
- Key Club International: The oldest Kiwanis sponsored-youth program is Key Club. Seventeen boys in Sacramento, California, made up the first Key Club in 1925, and today the organization is active in 20 nations and includes 4,700 clubs and 244,000 members.
- Builders Club: The Builders Club program for middle school and junior high students was launched in 1975 and has grown to include more than 1,500 clubs and 44,000 members in 13 nations.
- K-Kids: This organization for elementary school-age students was adopted as a sponsored program by Kiwanis in 1998. Today, 18,000 K-Kids in 500 clubs and 11 nations are actively creating opportunities for community service, leadership development, and citizenship education.
- Aktion Club: In October 2000, Kiwanis extended service opportunities to adult citizens living with developmental disabilities through the formation of Aktion Clubs. These clubs provide members with opportunities to develop initiative and leadership, to serve their communities, to be integrated into society, and to demonstrate the dignity and value of citizens living with developmental disabilities. To date, there are more than 2,900 members in 125 clubs