Key Club: What is it? Should You Join?

You may not have heard of Key Club before, but you likely know names such as Bill Clinton (former President of the United States), Bob Iger (Executive Chairman of Walt Dinsey), and Brad Pitt (famous actor) who were all Key Club members when they were in high school. 

 

Are you interested in Key Club now? If so, keep reading to learn how participating in Key Club in high school can lay the foundation for future success—whether it’s getting into the college of your dreams, holding the highest office in the land, running a multinational company, or becoming a household name.   

What is Key Club?

 

Key Club is an international organization with more than 5,000 clubs and 270,000 members across 38 countries on six of the seven continents (sorry, Antarctica), which makes it an awesome opportunity for domestic and international students alike. Key Club is a branch of Kiwanis International, a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of children.

 

Key Club was founded roughly a century ago, in 1925, in Sacramento, California, when two Kiwanis Club members had the idea to form a junior service club that resembled the Kiwanis. The early members of the club were “key” boys in school, who were willing to serve the club and improve school spirit, hence the name Key Club. 

 

Today, Key Club remains an integral part of many students’ high school careers, providing them with an outlet to serve their communities, develop leadership skills, build character, make friends, and improve academic achievement. Joining Key Club in high school also looks fantastic on a college resume; it’s the largest high school organization in the world (making it instantly recognizable to admissions officers) and is renowned for attracting students who value community service. 

 

Typical Key Club Events and Activities

 

Key Clubs are reflective of their communities and their communities’ needs—therefore, no Key Club looks exactly like another. Key Clubs in high school provide plenty of room for clubs and individual members to explore their own interests and tackle the projects most needed in their communities. However, there are some common key club activities, such as: 

 

  • Clean-up days
  • Food drives 
  • Clothing collection 
  • Starting recycling programs
  • Volunteering at senior centers 
  • Tutoring fellow students

 

Although every Key Club can pursue their own service projects, all Key Clubs come together under the Key Club International Major Emphasis Program, Children: Their Future, Our Focus. Key Club partners with other international service organizations to support their major emphasis program. Partner organizations include: 

 

 

In addition to service work, members of Key Club in high school will also develop leadership and management skills through running meetings, planning projects, and holding elected leadership positions at the club, district, and international level. 

 

Who Can Join Key Club?

 

Key Club membership is open to any high school student who is willing to perform 50 hours of service in their home, school, or community. The type of high school students Key Club hopes to attract are those who desire to become leaders in their school and community, promote a caring way of life, and make the world a better place through service to others. 

 

What Kind of Students Would Enjoy Key Club

 

Because participating in Key Club in high school looks great on a college resume—it’s a well-recognized organization with a sterling reputation—it often attracts high achievers with aspirations of attending schools with selective admissions. Key Clubs also are generally very active, which provides excellent essay and interview fodder, as members can write and talk about the roles they played in the execution of particular projects. 

 

Lofty college aspirations are not the only reason for joining Key Club, however. Many students are attracted to the club’s mission: “We are caring and competent servant leaders transforming communities worldwide.” These students see Key Club as a way to improve their communities while also improving personally—building character and developing leadership skills. Key Club is also a great way to meet like-minded people and make friends while doing something positive for their community. 

 

The Core Values of Key Club

 

A good litmus test for participating in Key Club while in high school is how well the organization’s core values align with your own values. The core values of Key Club International are leadership, character building, caring, and inclusiveness.

 

  • Leadership: Inspiring others around you to perform community service and volunteer.
  • Character: Build character through acts of kindness, integrity, and teamwork. 
  • Caring: Inspiring service because you care about your community. 
  • Inclusiveness: Allow room for everyone regardless of background and ethnicity. 

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How to Start a Key Club

 

If there is not already a Key Club at your high school, you can start one. (If your high school is home to a previously chartered club, you don’t need to start fresh, it’s possible to reactivate an old club.) The first step in the process is to connect with a local Kiwanis club, or other community organization, and enlist them as a sponsor. You’ll also need a faculty/staff member to serve as the club’s advisor—the best advisors often are those who are deeply connected with community service and student development, or who were past Key Club members themselves. 

 

With the Key Club infrastructure in place, it’s time to recruit members—a club requires 15 members to charter. Key Club reminds students that people join people, not organizations, so put yourself out there and give people a reason to join. With your group in place, you’ll need to collect funds—there is a chartering fee and members are expected to pay dues—if the cost is a concern, work with your local Kiwanis Club, they might help offset some of the expense. 

 

With your club chartered and dues paid, you can submit your chartering document to Key Club International and get ready to party with a chartering ceremony—don’t forget to invite potential new members, school officials, family members, and members of your local sponsoring agency of Kiwanis Club. 

 

If you still have questions about starting a Key Club, the organization has detailed instructions available on their website. 

 

Joining a reputable organization like Key Club can have an enormous impact on your odds of acceptance at your dream college. But how much? CollegeVine’s free chancing engine takes into account factors like grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities (like Key Club) to give you an informed idea of your odds of getting into over 500 colleges and universities. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to put this valuable tool to work for you.

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Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.

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