Key Club

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Key Club International
FoundedMay 7, 1925
TypeService club
FocusLeadership, Character Building, Caring, and Inclusiveness
HeadquartersIndianapolis, Indiana, United States
OriginsSacramento, California, United States
Area served
MethodCommunity service
Membership (2020)
International President[2]
Kyle Hanson
International Trustees[2]
  • Allan An
  • Riya Bajpai
  • Abigail Choi
  • Emily Dudash
  • Alyssa Kline
  • Ian Opel
  • Ghabrielle Rhoden
  • David Robaina
  • Ethan Schmidt
  • Maya Tolentino
  • Alex Trinh
Matt Ellis
Parent organization
Kiwanis International
US$1,782,484 (2019)[3]

Key Club International, also called Key Club, is an international service organization for high school students.[4] As a student-led organization, Key Club's goal is to encourage leadership through serving others. Key Club International is the high school branch of the Kiwanis International family, classified as a Service Leadership Program and more specifically as a Kiwanis Youth Program.[5] Many Key Clubs are 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 worked together 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.[6]



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 activities 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 the club. In May 1925, a group of boys at Sacramento High School held their first club meeting. [7]


Female students were first allowed to join in 1977 (52 years after the founding of the organization). This occurred ten years before adult women were permitted to join the parent (sponsoring) organization, Kiwanis International.[6] In 1980, the first females were elected to the Key Club International Board. Lisa Cross and Renee Wetstein were elected as Key Club International Trustees. In addition, the first African American was elected to serve on the International Board. Greg Broussard was elected as Key Club International vice-president. In 1996, Craig Melvin was elected as the first African-American president of Key Club International.[8] 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; the Kiwanis Youth Programs Board of Directors, directed by the International Guidebook to review any votes from the House of Delegates, approved the changes.[9][10]


Key Club International is composed of 32 organized Districts with an additional District in formation (Western Canada).[11] Key Club International is currently in 38 countries.[citation needed] As of 2020, Key Club International includes 229,652 members and 4,841 paid clubs.[1]

Key Club International itself employs three full-time staff members and utilizes the services of nearly 120 additional specialists employed by Kiwanis International—all are employed at Kiwanis International headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana.[12]


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.[13]

Theme of the Major Emphasis[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

Key Club around the world. Blue denotes fully Districted countries, green denotes partially Districted countries and/or Districts-in-formation, and red denotes countries with non-Districted Key Clubs.
Key Club around the world. Blue denotes fully Districted countries, green denotes partially Districted countries and/or Districts-in-formation, and red denotes countries with non-Districted Key Clubs.

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.[4]

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.

The 2022-2023 International committees include the Executive committee, which focuses on bylaws and policies, proposals for the Kiwanis Youth Programs Board, International Competition, the Strategic Plan, and more; In addition, the global relations committee has a heavy focus on growth abroad, supporting international districts, and nondistricted/district-in-formation club communication.

Finally, the programs and partners committee aims to connect Key Club International with other branches of the K-family, bridge the gap between KCI and our service partners, and to shape annual programs.


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.

Governor (District Governor)[edit]

The District Governor is the highest-ranking student leader in a District and represents the District at all international events. Responsibilities include overseeing the District Board and ensuring the District's progress in its practical and fundraising goals.

District Secretary[edit]

The District Secretary's primary responsibilities include maintaining records for a District (meeting minutes, monthly report forms, etc.).

District Treasurer[edit]

The District Treasurer's primary responsibilities include preparing financial reports for a District, including but not limited to information about the progress of the District's Key Clubs in dues payment, and sending dues notifications to Key Clubs throughout the year.

District Secretary-Treasurer[edit]

The District Secretary-Treasurer's primary responsibilities are those of the District Secretary (maintaining records for a District) and District Treasurer (preparing financial reports and sending dues notifications). Districts without both a District Secretary and District Treasurer often opt for a District Secretary-Treasurer.

District Bulletin Editor[edit]

The District Bulletin Editor's primary responsibility is to produce at least two major District publications to be sent to all Key Clubs in the District.

District Webmaster[edit]

The District Webmaster's primary responsibility is to maintain the website for the District.


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.

Lieutenant governor[edit]

A lieutenant governor (LTG) is elected to lead and represent a single division in a district. The lieutenant governor serves as a liaison between individual high school clubs in their division and the district board. In addition to fulfilling the responsibilities of a Key Club member, lieutenant 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 lieutenant governors to organize training conferences, and keep in contact their with clubs, district executive board, and Kiwanis counterparts. A lieutenant governor may initiate community service projects to help the members of the division become more involved. A lieutenant governor may choose to create a division leadership team to delegate some of these responsibilities.

The lieutenant governor is responsible for oversight of, on average, 4–15 high school Key Clubs. Depending on the procedures and bylaws of their respective district, one of the lieutenant governor's duties may be planning an election near the end of their term to determine their successor.

The lieutenant governor's role on the district board is to act as a representative of their governing division. Lieutenant 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.


Individual Key Clubs are the foundation upon which Key Club International is built; they are the direct or indirect beneficiary of all policy initiatives within Key Club International. The following are officer positions that Key Club International offers handbooks for: club president, club vice president, club secretary, club treasurer, club bulletin editor, and club webmaster.

Financially, every Key Club member pays $7 to Key Club International and up to $7 to their District through dues, depending on the District (for a total of up to $14). Club dues are paid through Kiwanis International's Membership Update Center. Key Clubs are assigned statuses by Kiwanis International indicating the timeliness of club dues submission, as shown in the following diagram:

Key Club statuses depending on date club dues are paid.


Key Club is one of the only internationally structured high school organizations led by high school students. There are four distinct levels in the organization's leadership hierarchy: International, District, Division, and Club. Some districts also have their divisions clustered in another optional structure called a Region, though this is not a standard part of a general district structure.


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

In caucusing sessions held prior to the house of delegates, no more than two international president (IP) and international vice president (IVP) candidates and no more than 14 international trustee (IT) candidates are nominated for election. While only 11 positions for trustee are available, 14 are nominated for election; 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 nomination of president or vice president candidates where the minimum number could increase up to 16.[10]

During international elections, district-endorsed candidates (no more than 2 from each district) for IP, IVP, and IT caucus in district-based rooms, sharing their platform and taking questions. After caucusing, Key Club members nominate 14 to proceed to the house of delegates. This number may be reduced if dual nomination for an IP or IVP candidate is considered. At the house of delegates, the international president, vice president, and 11 trustees are elected to the board by delegate votes.

Each club present at the convention can send no more than two delegates to the house of delegates where, in addition to any resolutions or bylaw amendments to be considered, 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.


District-level positions are often elected at annual district conventions (typically held in March or April), where Key Club members, advisors, Kiwanis members, and guests are in attendance. Activities often include forums and workshops facilitated by district board members; awards and recognition ceremonies; a Governor's ball or banquet; a less formal dance; a keynote speaker; and several general sessions for remaining convention business. Caucuses, or questioning periods, are held to elect the new district officers (governor, secretary, treasurer, editor, webmaster, lieutenant governor, etc.) for the upcoming service year.

Many districts name or brand their conventions differently in order to best 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.


A region may consist of multiple divisions, but they are not a construct of Key Club International bylaws. There are no internationally defined positions at the regional level. Implementations of regions may vary between districts that utilize them.


Lieutenant Governors are typically elected at either a division level or at a district convention, though this varies depending on each district's bylaws. Division elections may also include divisional committees or other leadership roles, again varying by each district's own bylaws or preferences.


The president, vice president, 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 officers over to officers-elect. In between club elections and the date that officers-elect assume their positions, there are district conferences or conventions where future officers can be trained and advised on how to best work in their upcoming role.

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

Notable former Key Club members[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Key Club District Dues Paid Report". Kiwanis International. June 25, 2020. p. 288. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 6, 2020. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Key Club International Board". Instagram. Florida District of Key Club International. July 7, 2020. Archived from the original on December 23, 2021. Retrieved July 10, 2020. (The International Council webpage doesn't have a roster of the 2020-2021 International Board.) {{cite web}}: External link in |postscript= (help)CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  3. ^ "Kiwanis International and Subsidiaries". Kiwanis International. January 2, 2020. p. 36. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 10, 2020. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Key Club - Frequently Asked Questions". Archived from the original on May 24, 2012. Retrieved July 8, 2012.
  5. ^ "Kiwanis Youth Programs". Archived from the original on July 9, 2018. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "History & Timeline". Archived from the original on January 19, 2013. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  7. ^ "Key Club - Our History". Archived from the original on July 29, 2012. Retrieved July 8, 2012.
  8. ^ "Kiwanis International | Learning to Give". Archived from the original on August 7, 2020. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  9. ^ "Proposed Amendments 2019 ICON" (PDF). August 18, 2019. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 8, 2022. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Key Club International Guidebook" (PDF). August 18, 2019. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 18, 2022. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  11. ^ "How Key Club Works". Key Club International. September 14, 2017. Archived from the original on July 7, 2020. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  12. ^ "Contact Us". Archived from the original on June 6, 2017. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  13. ^ "Key Club Magazine, September 2009". Archived from the original on November 24, 2010. Retrieved July 8, 2012.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Famous Key Club Alumni Knowledge Test". Kiwanis International. Archived from the original on May 11, 2009. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 21, 2023. Retrieved March 19, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "William F. Poe - 53rd Mayor Of Tampa". City of Tampa. June 17, 2014. Archived from the original on January 11, 2021. Retrieved March 20, 2021.

External links[edit]

District Websites[edit]

Kiwanis Family[edit]

Key Club Programs[edit]