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Founded 1950
Type 501(c)(3) non-profit religious
Area served
U.S. and Int'l (109 countries)
Key people
Valerie Bell, CEO; Matt Markins, President/COO; Art Rorheim, Co-Founder
12,200 U.S. churches, 6,000 int'l churches
Slogan Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed
Mission Reach Kids. Equip Leaders. Change the World.

Awana (derived from the first letters of Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed as taken from 2 Timothy 2:15) is an international evangelical nonprofit organization founded in 1950, headquartered in Streamwood, Illinois. The mission of Awana is to help "reach kids, equip leaders and change the world for God."[1] Awana is a non-denominational program and licenses its children's ministry curriculum and youth ministry curriculum to any church willing to pay for and use the Awana materials consistent with its principles.


Lance Brenton Latham (1894–1985), was a prominent preacher, evangelist, youth minister, and musician in the early to mid-20th century in Chicago, Illinois. He was known to many familiar with his ministry as "Doc," and his wife Virginia was known as "Teach."

Latham was a child prodigy, able to recite the entire Westminster Shorter Catechism by age 7. He was the pianist for the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle under evangelist Paul Rader. While there, Latham organized a children's ministry called the White Shirt Brigades. Through this ministry Latham developed the principles that would eventually lead to the launching of Awana.

Latham's ministry had a global impact. He founded the Awana Youth Association which soon expanded to tens of thousands of clubs on every continent. Through Latham's leadership, hundreds of thousands of boys and girls in thousands of churches have engaged in Bible memory, activities, and evangelism. Latham also founded Camp Awana, a pioneer in Christian camping.[2]


Awana offers multiple curricula levels from toddlers to senior high-school. In the U.S. and Canada, Awana is split into six age groups: Puggles (2 and 3 yr olds), Cubbies (3 through 5 yr olds or "the 2 years prior to Kindergarten"), Sparks (Kindergarten, Grade 1 & 2), Truth & Training (T&T) (for grades 3, 4, 5 & 6), Trek (Middle School) and Journey (High school). Most recently T&T replaced groups divided up into Pals (Boys Grade 3 & 4), Chums (Girls Grade 3 & 4), Pioneers (Boys Grade 5 & 6), and Guards (Girls Grade 5 & 6), which changed in the late 1990s. Originally Pals and Chums were Grades 3 to 5 and Pioneers and Guards included Grades 6 to 8. Trek and Journey, which are under the 24/7 Ministries (now, Awana Youth Ministries) banner, were called, respectively, Jr. Varsity and Varsity. Internationally, the age groups offered vary in each country and materials are available in many languages. Awana's prison ministries (Hannah's Gift and Malachi Dads) attend the needs of inmates by providing parental coaching to incarcerated mothers and fathers, respectively. Additionally, Returning Hearts Celebrations reunite children of inmates by sponsoring events in prisons to bring children and their inmate fathers closer together.

Puggles has three "friends" in the materials  – Sydney the Koala, Alice the Kangaroo, Puggle the Platypus. The precepts taught are that "God made all things", "give thanks" and "God is love".

Cubbies friends include Cubbie Bear, Katie Collie and Luvie Lamb. This material was updated in 2013 and 2014 and the former "Hopper" and "Jumper" handbooks have been replaced with "AppleSeed" and "HoneyComb". The two handbooks are completed in alternating years and HoneyComb is the handbook for the 2014-2015 Awana year.

Sparks friends include Sparkie the firefly and children named Chloe, Joel, Jacob and Chloe's dog Sebastian. The original three-book series was called Skipper, Hiker and Climber. This curriculum was updated 2009-2011 and replaced with HangGlider, WingRunner and SkyStormer. If a clubber completes all three handbooks they earn the Sparky Award Plaque and Pin as second graders.

T&T (truth and training) friends include children and the dog, Streamwood. The books are called Ultimate Adventure 1 and 2 and Ultimate Challenge 1 and 2. There is an award for each book completed between Grade 3 to Grade 12  – Alpha Award (one book), Excellence Award (two books), Challenge Award (three books) and Timothy Award (four books).

Trek is designed to help youths answer the questions “Who are you?”, “Why are you here?” and “Who is with you?. It has three years worth of lessons so the program can be used for Grades 6, 7 and 8 depending on local school and church preferences. The Trek curriculum is being revised from the former Billboard, Roadsign and Dashboard Series to Trek One, Trek Two and Trek Three. Trek One made its debut in 2014. Trek Two and Trek Three will be available in 2015 and 2016 to complete the Trek update. Additional awards available are the Milestone Award for completion of a Trek handbook and Meritorious Award for the completion of any six Awana handbooks between Grade 3 to Grade 12.

Journey is based on ten Bible Studies consisting of either books of the Bible or topical studies (12 sections each). Each year there is one common study that is chosen by Awana for all clubs to use if they plan to participate in Awana's regional or national bible quizzing events. To complete a year of Journey curriculum, students must complete the Faith Foundation booklet (first year only), two bible studies handbooks, read and summarize one-quarter of the Bible (books are specified), complete a long-term service project of 3 months or more, and attend Awana training. If a student completes all 10 years of material from Grade 3-12, the Citation Award is awarded. This is the highest level of achievement and considered a great honor. The names of students receiving the Citation Award are inscribed on plaques located at Awana Headquarters.

Awana events[edit]

Awana missionaries and volunteers run local, state (provincial) and regional competitions between churches' Awana programs. These involve Bible Quizzing, AwanaGames, Sparks-A-Rama, and Awana Grand Prix, their version of wood car racing. High-school age Awana students can also participate in an annual national event called Summit.

Awana missionaries help churches start the Awana ministry, train church leaders how to introduce kids and youth into the Awana program and instruct church leaders at Awana Ministry Conferences on how to better utilize the Awana ministry.

Awana missionaries are completely "faith supported" by donations from churches and individuals, thereby acquiring all of the funds necessary to keep each of their ministries funded in addition to receiving all funds needed for their personal housing and income needs.

Non-profit status[edit]

Awana broadly encompasses the following tax-exempt entities:

  • Awana International;
  • Awana Clubs International;
  • Awana International Canada
  • Impact Life, and;
  • Canadian Adventure, Inc.

According to the 2006 Form 990 filed with the IRS by Awana Clubs International, ACI reported gross revenues of $45,595,800 --- significantly higher than the amounts reported for both 2004 ($41,464,006) and 2005 ($41,513,499) within the Awana "2004–2005 Financial Highlights" report,[3] but this gross revenue variation may be due to a timing difference with the actual start and end date of the ACI tax year or a transfer of funds between the various Awana EOs.[4]

At the close of 2007, Awana was named one of 30 "Shining Light Ministries" by, a financial watchdog group. The award is based on passing a number of stringent financial accounting and reporting standards.[5] Awana is also a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).


  1. ^ About Awana
  2. ^ Lance Latham
  3. ^ (Awana) "2004–2005 Financial Highlights" Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ IRS 2005 Form 990 "Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax". This form also lists the compensation for Officers, Directors, Trustees, and Key Employees.
  5. ^ 30 of the Brightest Shining Light Ministries Archived September 20, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.

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