Secular Student Alliance

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Secular Student Alliance
FormationNovember 21, 2001
PurposeSecular humanism and Nontheism, as well as scientific rationality, secularism, and human-based ethics
HeadquartersLos Angeles, California
Region served
United States
Key people
Kevin Bolling, Executive Director
Evan Clark, Chair of the Board of Directors

The Secular Student Alliance (SSA) is an American educational nonprofit organization whose purpose is to educate high school and college students about the value of scientific reason and the intellectual basis of secularism in its atheistic and humanistic manifestations. The SSA also offers these students and their organizations a variety of resources, including leadership training and support, guest speakers, discounted literature and conference tickets, and online articles and opinions.[citation needed]


In 1999, the students on the Executive Council of the Campus Freethought Alliance, along with some other students, faculty advisers, and off-campus supporters, decided that a national student organization needed autonomy (the Campus Freethought Alliance was governed by the Council for Secular Humanism).[2] Therefore, in April 2000, a majority of the members of the Campus Freethought Alliance Executive Council decided to become independent from the Council for Secular Humanism.[2] The Secular Student Alliance was thus founded in May 2000 by eight student leaders from the grassroots secular movement.[2] It was organized under the nonprofit corporation laws[3] of Ohio on November 21, 2001.[4] The corporation's principal office is located in Columbus, Ohio.[5]

The SSA is an independent, democratically structured organization in the U.S. that promotes freethinking high school and college students. The SSA was formed "to organize, unite, educate and serve students and student communities that promote the ideals of scientific and critical inquiry, democracy, secularism, and human based ethics".[6]

In January 2012, the SSA had over 312 affiliates in North America and abroad, including groups in Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia.[citation needed][7] In June 2013, the SSA announced that with the Freedom from Religion Foundation, it will work on educating students on their rights and will assist with rectifying violations.[8][9] The SSA is a founding member of the Secular Coalition for America.[citation needed]

In October 2015, SSA tweeted that it "desperately" needed $100,000 by the end of the month. Executive director August Brunsman said fundraising had lagged.[10] In October 2017, shortly after the hiring of new Executive Director Kevin Bolling, the organization relocated from Columbus, Ohio, to Los Angeles.[11]

Membership growth[edit]

The SSA has experienced increasing membership growth since its founding.[12] As of May 2018, the SSA's Board of Directors has twelve members.[citation needed] The number of SSA community college and university campus affiliates has expanded considerably in recent years:[13][14]

  • 2007 – 80 groups
  • 2008 – 100 groups
  • 2009 – 159 groups
  • 2010 – 219 groups
  • 2011 – 240 groups[15]
  • 2012 – 413 groups
  • 2013 – 407 groups[16]
  • 2018 – 276 groups[17]
  • 2019 – 312 groups[18]


Executive director August Brunsman at SSACon 2015

On August 7, 2009, the SSA organized a trip to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. 304 students, atheists, and scientists attended, in order to familiarize themselves with the museum.[6] One notable name in attendance was PZ Myers, who also came to experience the museum.[19]

Since 2009, the SSA has held their Annual Leadership Conference over the Summer which aims to train student leaders and group members in leadership skills and grassroots organizing.[20] In 2013, the conference was split into two locations (East and West).


The SSA holds an annual leadership conference.[citation needed]

Year Location Theme
2000 University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
2001 Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio) Kicking Ass for the New Enlightenment
2002 Chicago, Illinois Education Against Indoctrination
2004 Washington, D.C.[21]
2005 Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio) Connecting the Secular Movement with Other Communities[22]
2006 Kansas City, Missouri We're Not in Kansas Anymore[23]
2007 Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts) Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy 30th Anniversary Gala/Symposium
2008 Washington, D.C. World Humanist Congress
2009 Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio) Freethinking Friends & Secular Cephalopods
2010 Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio)
2011 Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio)
2012 Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio) Contrary to Popular Belief
2013 Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio) and University of Nevada, Las Vegas (Las Vegas, Nevada) Contrary to Popular Belief
2014 Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio) and Arizona State University (Tempe, Arizona) Contrary to Popular Belief
2015 Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio) Contrary to Popular Belief
2018 Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio) Curiosity Courage Compassion
2019 University of Southern California (Los Angeles, California) Better Together
2021 Virtual Think Forward Move Forward
2022 Virtual Think, Prepare, Advance
2023 University of Missouri-St Louis
2024 University of Arkansas at Little Rock

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Us – Secular Student Alliance". Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "A Brief History of the Secular Student Alliance | Secular Student Alliance". Archived from the original on November 18, 2016. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
  3. ^ Chapter 1702: Nonprofit Corporation Law, Ohio Revised Code.
  4. ^ The "Articles of Incorporation" of the Secular Student Alliance were filed on November 21, 2001.
  5. ^ The SSA's principal office is located in Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio. "Corporation Details", Ohio Secretary of State. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
  6. ^ a b Powell, Devin (August 9, 2009). "Creation Museum: Is This How World Began? 300 Skeptics Converge on Christian Museum in Kentucky". ABC News/Inside Science News Service. Retrieved October 20, 2009.
  7. ^ Galef, Jesse (January 12, 2012). "Atheist Teen's Court Victory a Sign of Growing Secular Student Influence". Secular Student Alliance. Archived from the original on January 27, 2012. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
  8. ^ "In Response to Mounting Violations, National Orgs Vow to Protect Atheist Students' Rights" (Press release). Secular Student Alliance. June 27, 2013. Retrieved June 30, 2013.
  9. ^ "In Response to Mounting Violations, National Orgs Vow to Protect Atheist Students' Rights" (Press release). Freedom from Religion Foundation. June 27, 2013. Retrieved June 30, 2013.
  10. ^ Eberhard, JT (May 30, 2016). "Secular Student Alliance running a 'desperate' fundraiser". WWJTD. Retrieved May 31, 2016. 'To come close to keeping pace with all of the secular students who benefit from our programs, we need to raise $100,000 by October 31st.'
  11. ^ Mehta, Hemant. "An Interview with Kevin Bolling, the Secular Student Alliance's New Director". The Friendly Atheist. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  12. ^ Niose, David (July 17, 2012). Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 023033895X. "Founded in 2000, the SSA had less than fifty campus affiliates in early 2007, but by 2011 it had over 340".
  13. ^ Urbina, Ian (December 1, 2009). "Approaching Holidays Prompt Atheist Campaign". The New York Times. Retrieved September 26, 2010.
  14. ^ Galef, Jesse (September 6, 2010). "Fall Brings Record Numbers of Atheist, Agnostic Student Organizations on Campus". Secular Student Alliance. Retrieved February 8, 2011.
  15. ^ Winerip, Michael (April 3, 2011). "Teenagers Speak Up for Lack of Faith". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-03.
  16. ^ "Campus Group List". December 2, 2005. Archived from the original on March 21, 2006. Retrieved June 18, 2023.
  17. ^ "Find a Chapter". Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  18. ^ "Find a Chapter". Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  19. ^ McLendon, Ryan (September 30, 2009). "Beyond Belief: Atheist community thrives in Cincinnati's backyard". CityBeat. Retrieved October 20, 2009.
  20. ^ "Non-religious leaders hope to boost 2020 election voters at events like this one at USC". Daily News. July 8, 2019. Retrieved December 7, 2020.
  21. ^ "2004 Conference Write-Up". Secular Student Alliance. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  22. ^ Crary, Duncan (August 17, 2005). "2005 Secular student conference a success". Humanist Network News. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  23. ^ "SSA/AAI 2006 Joint Conference: Most Spiffy!". Secular Student Alliance. Retrieved October 2, 2013.

Further reading[edit]

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