De Witt
Serving the Children of the World
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Kiwanis History 

  • Kiwanis was founded in Detroit, Michigan, on January 21, 1915.
  • In the early years, Kiwanis clubs focused on business networking,but even then, members were serving the needs of the poor.
  • By 1919, the organization had changed its focus from business to service.
  • Kiwanis became an international organization in 1916 with the organization of the Kiwanis Club of Hamilton, Ontario.
  • Kiwanis limited its membership to the United States and Canada until 1962 when worldwide expansion was approved.
  • Until 1987, Kiwanis was a male-only organization. But after years of debate and growing support, women’s membership was received overwhelmingly.

Guiding Principles


Kiwanis members are guided by these key principles:

  • To give importance to the human and spiritual rather than the material values of life.
  • To encourage living by the Golden Rule.
  • To promote higher social, business, and professional standards.
  • To encourage and be servant leaders. 
  • To build Kiwanis clubs that build lasting friendships and serve and strengthen local communities.
  • To promote justice, patriotism, and goodwill.   

What is a Kiwanian?


Kiwanis Name
The name “Kiwanis” means “we trade” or “we share our talents.” It was coined from an American Indian expression, Nunc Kee-wanis
Kiwanians are volunteers changing the world through service to children and communities. Kiwanis members help shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, mentor the disadvantaged, and care for the sick. They develop youth as leaders, build playgrounds, raise funds for pediatric research, and much more. No problem is too big or too small. Why? Because working together, members achieve what one person cannot accomplish alone. When you give a child a chance to learn, experience, dream, and succeed, great things happen!
As Kiwanis clubs and members, we see it everyday!
  • About 8,000 clubs in 96 countries
  • More than 260,000 adult members
  •  Approximately 320,000 youth
To serve children of the world.

Each year, clubs:
  • Sponsor nearly 150,000 service projects.
  • Raise more than $107 million.
Members and clubs have:
  • Contributed more than $80 million toward the global elimination of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), the leading preventable cause of mental retardation. 
Global Results
Members and clubs have contributed more than $80 million toward the global elimination of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), the leading preventable cause of mental retardation.

For additional information, Click the link below: 

/Files/Clubs/Michigan/1603/Documents/history of kiwanis bulletin.pdf