Key Club

Key Club International, founded in 1925, is an international service program for high school students.[3] Often referred to as simply Key Club, it is a student-led organization whose goal is to encourage leadership through serving others. Key Club International is a part of the Kiwanis International family of Service Leadership Programs (SLPs), specifically the Kiwanis Youth Programs (KYPs).[4] Many local Key Clubs are sponsored by a local Kiwanis club.

Key Club International
FocusLeadership, Character Building, Caring, and Inclusiveness
HeadquartersIndianapolis, Indiana, USA
OriginsSacramento, California, USA
Area served
MethodCommunity service
Membership (2018)
International President[2]
K'lena Schnack
International Vice President[2]
Kaitlin Cirillo
International Trustees[2]
  • Alexander Drahos
  • Caroline Bushnell
  • Riley Feng
  • Alexis Henry
  • Aminhan Lobster
  • Conrad Nguyen
  • Brandon Orick
  • Indigo Parlin
  • Hannah Povroznik
  • Irin Shim
  • Rachel Zhang
Greg Stowers
Parent organization
Kiwanis International
US$4,114,151 (2011)[1]

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 1977, ten years before women were admitted to the sponsoring organization, Kiwanis International.[5]


Key Club offers a range of services to its members: leadership development, study-abroad opportunities, vocational guidance, college scholarships, a subscription to the Key Club magazine, and liability insurance.

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

The organization maintains 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 1994 to address HIV/AIDS education and prevention in Kenya.[6]

Theme of the Major Emphasis

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 through the development of the Major Emphasis and its Theme.

"Children: Their Future, Our Focus" is Key Club International's Major Emphasis theme. Officially, any project conducted by members or clubs that serve needy children locally or globally is considered a project of the Major Emphasis. The three preferred charities of Key Club International are paramount to the organization's success in serving children. These are the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, March of Dimes, and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Key Clubs contribute to a global organizational total of more than 12 million hours of hands-on service and millions of dollars donated to the aforementioned partners and other programs.

Recently, the Kiwanis International has dedicated itself to eliminating the risk of Maternal/Neonatal Tetanus (MNT) from the face of the earth. The disease plagues mothers and newborns in 40 countries worldwide, and while an effective vaccine has been developed, MNT claims nearly 100,000 lives each year. As part of the Kiwanis International mission to end MNT, Key Club International has pledged all proceeds from its members' Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF projects to the $110 million funding gap the Kiwanis International Foundation is working to correct.

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-to-9-year-old youth, with the main goals of promoting education and building literary skills.

In 2011, the Service Initiative concept was abolished by a vote of the Key Club International Board. It was decided that the freedom of selecting any project in keeping with the theme of "Children: Their Future, Our Focus" would allow for greater success for member clubs and their dedications to service.

Key Club Week

During the first full week of November, known as Kiwanis Family Month, Key Clubs worldwide celebrate Key Club Week. In seven days, Key Clubs are encouraged to grow and serve through themed days like "Show Your K in Every Way", "Konnect the Ks", "Kudos to the Key Players", and more. The week has been designed to become the organization's primary membership drive worldwide with the belief that more members will translate to more service and even greater results in serving the children of the world.


The official colors are blue, gold and white.   

  • Blue means unwavering character     
  • Gold means service     
  • White means purity     

Structure and Governance

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.

Key Club exists on more than 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. Clubs exist in Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Ecuador, England, Germany, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Malaysia, Martinique, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Panama, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, St. Lucia, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, the United Arab Emirates and the United States of America.[3]

Key Club International is an organization of individual Key Clubs and is funded by nominal dues paid by every member. Offices/positions are most often elected (or otherwise appointed by elected officers) and are held by high school students aged 14–18 years old.


Key Club International encompasses all clubs within the 33 organized districts and in foreign countries that are not included in any specific district. Key Club International is led by the International Board of Trustees, which is typically composed of the International President, International Vice-President, and 11 International Trustees (Trustees being assigned to three districts and also assigned to serve on various committees within the board). Furthermore, the International Council is composed of the International Board, as well as the District Governor from each of the 33 organized Districts. International Board members are elected at the annual international convention, also known as ICON.

International Elections

International Offices are elected at International Convention (ICON) each summer during the meeting of the House of Delegates.

In caucusing sessions held prior to the House of Delegates meeting, no more than two President and Vice President candidates and no more than 12 Trustee candidates are nominated for election. While only 11 positions for trustee are available, 12 are nominated for election as the organization bylaws dictate that the minimum number of trustee candidates on the ballot “...shall not be less than the number to be elected plus one and not more than the number to be elected plus three...” notwithstanding cases of dual domination of President and/or Vice President candidates in which cases this minimum number could increase up to 16.[7]

Each club present at the convention can then send no more than 2 delegates to the House of Delegates where (in addition to amendments that are discussed and voted upon) the International President, Vice President, and Trustees are elected. The current International Board, all District Governors, and all Immediate Past District Governors are delegates at large, meaning they can vote independent of their club.


A Key Club district is normally defined by state or nation and tends to match a similar Kiwanis district. Each district is chaired by a Governor, elected by delegates to an annual convention. The district is divided into divisions which tend to, but do not necessarily match Kiwanis divisions.

Each District and District-in-Formation is led by a group of students comprising the District Board of Trustees. The Executive District Board commonly includes the Governor, Secretary, Treasurer (or Secretary-Treasurer), and Editor. Along with these positions, the Illinois Eastern Iowa District has a Statistical Secretary. Each District Board also includes one Lieutenant Governor per division to serve the geographically smaller areas. Whereas one Governor may oversee the operations of an entire district (often the size of one or more states in the United States or a nation in the Caribbean), Lieutenant Governors oversee areas typically including 4–15 clubs. All officers are elected by the students they serve.

A district convention is held annually in each district (usually during March, April, or May) where Key Club members, advisers, Kiwanis members, and guests are in attendance. Activities often include: forums and workshops, which are facilitated by Lieutenant Governors, district executive officers, and sponsoring adults; awards and recognition ceremonies; a Governor's ball or banquet; a less formal district dance; a keynote speaker; and several general sessions for other convention business. Caucuses are held to elect the new District Executive Officers (governor, secretary, treasurer, editor, webmaster, etc.) for the upcoming service year.

Many districts brand their conventions differently in order to better reflect event goals. For example, a district convention is referred to as "District Leadership Conference" in the Missouri-Arkansas District, "District Educational Convention" in the New England District, "District Leadership Training Conference" in the New York District, "District Convention/Leadership Conference" in the Pennsylvania District and "District Education and Leadership Conference" in the Florida District.

District Elections

District-level positions are often elected at annual district conventions (usually held during March, April, or May). Lieutenant Governors can be elected at a division-level by direct members, though this varies by each district's bylaws.


Districts are divided into multiple smaller geographic regions which are typically called divisions. Each division is made up of several clubs and is usually led by a single Lieutenant Governor.

Division Elections

Lieutenant Governors can be elected at a division-level, though this varies by each district's bylaws. Division elections may also include divisional committees or other leadership roles, again varying by each district's own preference.


The president, vice president(s), secretary, treasurer, bulletin editor and webmaster or technology-associated position of the club should be elected each year in February. While not taking office until May, the intent of the early election is to allow for role-based shadowing and knowledge-transfer from existing to future officers. In between club elections and the date that future officers take their positions, there are district level conferences/conventions where future officers can be trained and advised on how to best work in their upcoming role.


The Governor is the executive officer of the District.

District Secretary

The Secretary's responsibility is to keep track of the statistical data of the District.





The Webmaster has different duties depending on the District they hail from. The Webmaster is typically responsible for creating, updating, and maintaining the District website.

Lieutenant Governor

A Lieutenant Governor (also referred to as Lt. Governor or LTG) is elected to lead and represent a single division in a district. The Lt. Governor serves as a liaison between individual high school clubs in his or her division and the district board. In addition to fulfilling the responsibilities of a Key Club member, Lt. Governors must also visit each of the clubs they serve, publish a monthly divisional newsletter, hold regular Division Council Meetings or Officer Council Meetings, collaborate with other Lt. Governors to organize training conferences, and keep in contact their with clubs, district executive board, and Kiwanis counterparts. A Lt. Governor may initiate community service projects to help the members of the division become more involved. A Lt. Governor may choose to create a division leadership team to delegate some of these responsibilities.

The Lt. Governor is responsible for oversight of, on average, 4–15 high school Key Clubs. One of the Lt. Governor's duties is to plan an election to determine his or her successor near the end of his or her term.

The Lt. Governor's role on the District Board is to act as a representative of his or her governing division. Lt. Governors make up the majority composition of the district board, with over sixty members in some larger districts. Changes and adoption of policies are debated by the board and can be approved by a simple majority vote.



In California, during the 1920s, adults were concerned with the pernicious side of high school fraternities and sought some means of replacing them with more wholesome activity for youth. In 1924, the local Kiwanis Club decided to attempt to begin a service club at the Sacramento High School, and the school principal eagerly supported the idea and began searching for students willing to start establish the club. In May 1925, a group of boys at Sacramento High School held their first club meeting. Called the "Key Boys", due to their valiant doings, the club eventually became known as Key Club and was associated with Kiwanis International.[8]


Female students were first allowed to join in 1977 (52 years after the founding of the organization). This occurred ten years before women were admitted to the sponsoring organization, Kiwanis International).[5] The 2019 Key Club International Convention's House of Delegates voted to change all references of gender-specific pronouns (i.e., he/him/his or she/her/hers) to the neutral they/them/their pronoun set throughout all of the organization's bylaws. During the same session, the delegation passed a resolution to change the phrase " nation and God..." to " nation and world..." in the Key Club Pledge.[9]

As with all resolutions passed by the delegation of Key Club International, there must be an approval by the Kiwanis International Board in order for the resolution to become official; this change is pending until the sponsoring organization of Kiwanis ratifies or rejects the resolution made by the students. [10]

Present status

Key Club International now includes 33 organized districts with an additional 3 districts in formation. Key Club International is currently in 38 countries.[11] As of 2018, Key Club International included 266,677 members, approximately 50% of Kiwanis International Family membership. There were also, 5,349 paid clubs in 2018.[12]

Key Club International itself employs three full-time staff members and utilizes the services of the nearly 120 more specialists employed by Kiwanis International. All work at International Headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana.[13]

Past Key Club International Boards

2018 - 2019
Position Name Home District Districts Served (Sistrict Paring)
President Emily Rice Minnesota-Dakotas
Vice President Hannah Nivar New Jersey Western Canada & Taiwan (both in formation)
Trustee Krysta Couzi Rocky Mountain Michigan
Braeden Dorchester New York Jamaica, Montana, Ohio
Alice Geng Minnesota-Dakotas Louisiana, New York, Utah-Idaho (NewLaMissHo)
Jennifer Harned Southwest Florida, Georgia, Kansas
Foster Hillis Texas-Oklahoma Alabama, Nebraska-Iowa, Southwest (ANIS)
Grace Ison Pennsylvania Kentucky-Tennessee, Minnesota-Dakotas, New England and Bermuda
Lamiya Kudrati Florida New Jersey, Pacific Northwest, Wisconsin Upper Michigan
K'lena Schnack Nebraska-Iowa Illinois-Eastern Iowa, Indiana, Pennsylvania (Pennilliana)
Me'Shale Sherwood Jamaica Caribbean-Atlantic District, CNH, Rocky Mountain
Cindy Shou Capital Carolinas, CNH Kiwins, West Virginia (West CaroKiwins)
Leslie Truong Carolinas Bahamas, Missouri Arkansas, Texas-Oklahoma

Notable former Key Club members


  1. "Kiwanis International Financial Statement". Kiwanis International. 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 24, 2012. Retrieved July 8, 2012.
  2. "Key Club International Board". Retrieved July 13, 2018.
  3. "Key Club - Frequently Asked Questions". Archived from the original on 2012-05-24. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
  4. "Kiwanis Youth Programs". Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  5. "History & Timeline". Archived from the original on 2013-01-19. Retrieved 2012-12-13.
  6. "Key Club Magazine, September 2009". Archived from the original on 2010-11-24. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
  7. "Key Club International Guidebook" (PDF). 2018-01-24. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  8. "Key Club - Our History". Archived from the original on 2012-07-29. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
  9. "Proposed Amendments 2019 ICON" (PDF). 2019-08-18. Retrieved 2019-08-18.
  10. "Key Club International Guidebook" (PDF). 2019-08-18. Retrieved 2019-08-18.
  11. "How Key Club Works". Archived from the original on 2015-12-10. Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  12. "2012-13 financial statements". Retrieved 2017-06-24.
  13. "Contact Us". Archived from the original on 2017-06-06. Retrieved 2017-06-24.
  14. retrieved April 13, 2008 Archived May 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
District Websites

In Canada

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