Kiwanis is an international organization of volunteers dedicated to benevolent (philanthropic) service to the needs of the world.
Kiwanis was founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1915 by a group of businessmen and was originally named Supreme Lodge Benevolent Order of Brothers. A corporate charter was granted by the state of Michigan on January 21, 1915 and established that date as the official birthday of Kiwanis.
The group decided to change the name. In search of a new name, they turned to Detroit's official historian who suggested an indian phrase "NunKeewa--is". The English translation was "we trade".
A second club was soon started in Cleveland, OH. Kiwanis became an international organization in 1916 when the Kiwanis Club of Ontario, Canada joined the Detroit and Cleveland clubs.
During its first of 64 years of growth, Kiwanis was headquartered in Chicago. In 1979, Kiwanis bild its current headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Kiwanis was a men's club until 1987 when Kiwanians attending the International Convention in Cincinnati voted to accept Women.
Through the years this internatinal service organization of men and women sharing the challenge of community and world improvement has grown to 8,400 clubs in 95 countries around the world - more than 600,000 members.
As the primary focus of the group became more oriented toward the benevolence of children, the motto was changed in 2005 to "serving the children of the world". Today the defining statement is: