Push America

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Push America raised $411.73 from eating dinner with friends and families.

Push America is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 1977 through Pi Kappa Phi as a way for undergraduate fraternity brothers to experience leadership development through service of people with disabilities. Originally titled PUSH America, Push was originally an acronym for Play Units for the Severely Handicapped then it was changed to People Understanding the Severely Handicapped. Now Push America is not an acronym.[1]


In 1976, Durward Owen, then Executive Director of Pi Kappa Phi, met with leaders in Pi Kappa Phi, with an idea to use the fraternity's undergraduate members for volunteer assistance. Thomas Sayre, a brother of the fraternity, had designed a therapeutic play unit for children with severe disabilities, and collaborated with Owen to form such a philanthropic initiative.

Push America was founded in 1977 as a non-profit organization, and remains the exclusive philanthropy of Pi Kappa Phi, designed to instill lifelong service in its fraternity members, serving people with disabilities.[1]

Three Areas of Focus[edit]

Push America's organization is based on three central areas of focus:

  1. Disability Awareness
  2. Fundraising
  3. Volunteerism[2]

Disability Awareness[edit]

Since 1977, Push America has developed programming for Pi Kappa Phi undergraduates and alumni, evolving ideas into nationally recognized projects that work collectively to promote a greater understanding of people with disabilities.[1]

Present Day[edit]

Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Push America is currently a Better Business Bureau accredited charity.[3]

The current CEO of Push America is Chad Coltrane.[4]

Cycling Events[edit]

Journey of Hope[edit]

In 1987, a young Pi Kappa Phi alumnus named Bruce Rogers (Chi) cycled across the country in an effort to bring more attention to the mission of Push America. Inspired by his inaugural trip, a 21-person team led by Jim Karlovec began the Journey of Hope in 1988. Every summer since, members of Pi Kappa Phi have cycled from San Francisco, CA to Washington, DC while delivering a message of understanding.[5]

There are now three routes on the Journey of Hope: North, South, and Trans America. All three of the routes finish in Washington, DC. The North route leaves from San Francisco, CA, the South route from Los Angeles, CA, and the Trans route from Seattle, WA.[5]

Gear-Up Florida[edit]

A two week cycling trip called Gear Up Florida, began in 1997. Like Journey of Hope, a team of cyclists travel, but on a smaller scale within the state, to promote the message of Push America. Gear-Up Florida starts in Miami and finishes in Florida's Capital, Tallahassee.[6]

Construction Projects[edit]

Give-A-Push Weekend[edit]

Push America's construction effort was begun in 1989, when the first Give-A-Push Weekend was held at Raleigh, North Carolina. Now undergraduates from all over the country have the opportunity to attend one of these two-day projects, where they work together to construct accessible amenities for facilities serving people with disabilities. April 1, 2007 will conclude the 100th Give-A-Push Weekend in Glenwood, Florida.[7]

Push Camp[edit]

In 1991, the first week-long construction project entitled Push Camp, was held at the Clemson Outdoor Lab in Clemson, SC. Today, Pi Kappa Phi members forgo the traditional college spring break experience to attend this week of service, brotherhood and fun.[8]


The third construction project, AccessABILITY, was introduced in 1994 and is designed to allow undergraduates and alumni to participate in a local service project that makes homes accessible through the construction of wheelchair ramps.[9]

Build America[edit]

In 2003, the inaugural Build America took members to six camps in six weeks to build accessible amenities and interact with campers for a summer of service.[10]

Additional Fundraising Projects[edit]

Push Challenge[edit]

The Push America Challenge offer individuals the opportunity to challenge themselves in endurance events while raising vital funds for the programs of Push America.[11]


Members of Pi Kappa Phi have raised millions of dollars for the projects and programs of Push America, providing support for millions of man hours dedicated to the renovation of facilities to serve people with disabilities across the country. Many types of creative fund-raisers have been designed to help fraternity men understand the philosophy of fund-raising. An example is the 5 P's of fund-raising created by Mike Rothschild in 1988.[12]


Undergraduate chapters across the country have and continue to establish volunteer relationships with local facilities that serve people with disabilities in conjunction with fund-raising on campus and in their local communities for the projects and programs of Push America.[13][14]

Awards received[edit]

Push America has received the following awards for its efforts:

  • President George H. W. Bush's Points of Light award (1992)
  • NIC Laurel Wreath Award (1994)
  • Holy Angels Volunteers of the Year (1995)
  • Easter Seals Connecticut Mobility Award (2000)
  • Associations Advance America Award of Excellence (Journey of Hope 2000)
  • Associations Advance America Honor Roll (Gear Up Florida 2000)
  • NIC Laurel Wreath Award, on behalf of Todd J. Porterfield and Jason R. Tirado (2000)
  • Easter Seals Wisconsin's Outstanding Service Group (2005)[15]


  1. ^ a b c [1][dead link]
  2. ^ [2][dead link]
  3. ^ "Push America, Inc. - Charity - Local - Better Business Bureau". Bbb.org. Retrieved 2013-07-27. 
  4. ^ [3][dead link]
  5. ^ a b [4][dead link]
  6. ^ [5][dead link]
  7. ^ [6][dead link]
  8. ^ [7][dead link]
  9. ^ [8][dead link]
  10. ^ [9][dead link]
  11. ^ [10][dead link]
  12. ^ [11][dead link]
  13. ^ [12][dead link]
  14. ^ [13][dead link]
  15. ^ [14][dead link]

External links[edit]