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Alpha Phi Omega (commonly known as APO, but also ΑΦΩ, A-Phi-O and A-Phi-Q)is the largest collegiate fraternity in the United Statesmarker, with chapters at over 350 campuses, an active membership of approximately 17,000 students, and over 350,000 alumni members. There are also 250 chapters in the Philippinesmarker and one in Australia.

Alpha Phi Omega is a co-ed service fraternity organized to provide community service, leadership development, and social opportunities for college students. Chapters range in size from a handful of active members to over 200 active members, independent of each college's size.

The purpose of the fraternity is "to assemble college students in a National Service Fraternity in the fellowship of principles derived from the Scout Oath and Scout Law of the Boy Scouts of America; to develop Leadership, to promote Friendship, and to provide Service to humanity; and to further the freedom that is our national, educational, and intellectual heritage." Unlike many other fraternities, APO's primary focus is to provide volunteer service within four areas: service to the community, service to the campus, service to the fraternity, and service to the nation as participating citizens. Being primarily a service organization, the fraternity restricts its chapters from maintaining fraternity houses to serve as residences for their members. This also encourages members of social fraternities and sororities that have houses to join APO as well.



Alpha Phi Omega was founded on December 16, 1925 at Lafayette Collegemarker in Easton, Pennsylvaniamarker, by Frank Reed Horton and 13 other students who were former Boy Scouts and scouters, as a way to continue participating in the ideals of Scouting at the college level. Six advisors were also inducted: President John H. MacCracken, Dean Donald B. Prentice, Professors D. Arthur Hatch and Harry T. Spengler; one local Scouting official, Herbert G. Horton, and one national Scouting official, the national director of relationships for the Boy Scouts of America, Ray O. Wyland. The founders insisted that all those gaining membership must pledge to uphold the fraternity's three cardinal principles of Leadership, Friendship, and Service.

Early history

Alpha Phi Omega became a national fraternity on January 11, 1927 with the founding of Beta chapter at University of Pittsburghmarker. Horton served as Supreme Grand Master from the founding of the fraternity until the 1931 convention. A total of 18 chapters were founded during this period. At the 1931 convention, H. Roe Bartle was elected as Supreme Grand Master (title changed to National President in 1932) and served through World War II, stepping down at the 1946 convention. During his time as president, the number of chapters grew to 109. Early in his term (October 1931), Alpha Phi Omega was formally recognized by the Boy Scouts of America.

Beginnings of an international fraternity

The most rapid growth of the fraternity was in the post-war years. By 1950, Alpha Phi Omega had 227 chapters in the United States. The first chapter outside the US was organized in the Philippinesmarker that year. Many Filipinos were active in the Boy Scouts. Sol Levy, an APO member from University of Washingtonmarker introduced the organization to Filipino Scouts. Librado I. Ureta, a graduate student at Far Eastern University in Manilamarker, was among the audience. Inspired by Levy's words, he read the publications and shared them with fellow Eagle Scout and students on the FEU campus. He asked their opinion about Levy's desire and the response was good. On March 2, 1950, the Alpha Phi Omega International Service Fraternity was chartered on campus.

Alpha Phi Omega grew rapidly in the Philippines. By its third year, seven chapters had been chartered at Manila and Visayan schools and it was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a nonstock, nonprofit, and nondividend corporation. Alpha Phi Omega (Phil.) Inc. was the first branch of the fraternity to be chartered outside the USA.

Membership in Alpha Phi Omega-USA opened to women

The fraternity was opened fully to women in 1976. All members are called "Brothers," regardless of gender. The Fraternity views "Brothers" as a gender-neutral term. Before women were allowed to join, several smaller sororities, parallel in ideals but independent in structure, were formed for women who had been Camp Fire Girls or Girl Scouts, including Gamma Sigma Sigma and Omega Phi Alpha. Several Alpha Phi Omega chapters also had started "little sister" groups; some of which formed separate organizations (e.g. Jewels of Tau, Phyettes etc).

The first step in paving the way for women to join Alpha Phi Omega was the Constitutional Convention in 1967, which removed the requirement that members have affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America.

In the early 1970s, co-ed membership was proposed by several chapters but failed to reach the two-thirds majority support at the National Conventions which was required to alter the organization's bylaws. Some chapters went co-ed prior to 1976, despite the fact that the national by-laws did not allow it. They did so by registering women by using only the first letter of their first name. Many chapters that attempted to register women with the national office would receive the paperwork and fees back for women initiates. The Alpha Chi chapter at the Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker ran their own printing press, and thus was able to generate certificates and membership cards for their own female initiates.

At the 1974 National Convention, the Fraternity allowed chapters to have women as affiliate members of the fraternity, and during the 1976 National Convention in Atlanta, Georgiamarker, the decision was made to formally welcome females as full members of the fraternity. As with many major changes, this one caused a great deal of consternation, especially among several long-established chapters. Many of these chapters threatened to disassociate with the national fraternity if they were forced to become co-ed. In order to preserve the unity of the fraternity as a whole, the amendment was crafted such that it did not require existing chapters to admit women as members albeit all new chapters had to. It was felt that with the course of time, all would go coed. This "gentleman's agreement" was formalized in the by-laws at the 1998 Convention: "The fraternity continues to encourage all Chapters and petitioning groups to open their membership to all students. All Chapters..have the right to choose their own members using …policies that are consistent with the Fraternity’s governing documents, the rules of the host institutions that they serve and the traditions of that Chapter. Single-gender Chapters chartered before the 1976 National Convention may remain single-gender unless they become inactive or coeducational. All Petitioning Groups seeking to charter or re-charter will be and remain co-educational. Allowing women members in 1976 reversed the continuing steep decline in membership of the Fraternity and started a growth cycle in the Fraternity.

Requirement of Open Membership

At the July 2005 National Board of Directors meeting a resolution was passed: "The actions of the 1976 and 1998 National Conventions have attempted to clarify the Fraternity’s open membership policy…The National Board is charged with…enforcing the membership policies of the Fraternity as well as ensuring compliance with applicable laws…and upon advice of legal counsel, all chapters must practice open membership without regard of gender". A decision by the 2006 National Convention on December 30, 2006, has essentially upheld the Board's previous resolution, adding additional clarifications to the transitional process for the all-male chapters, including a timeline for completion of their transition to co-educational status by the 2008 National Convention, and the establishment of a committee consisting of active members and alumni to assist with the process. In the spring of 2008, the Sigma Xi chapter at the University of Mainemarker formally disassociated from the national fraternity, forming a new fraternity: Alpha Delta. They cited that their action was due to an "ideological split", claiming that the national fraternity allowed female members to join and took away the student-focus. In addition, brothers from Zeta Theta chapter at Drexel Universitymarker and Pi Chi Chapter at Duquesne Universitymarker have joined this new fraternity.

As of February 2008, the all-male chapters at co-educational institutions in the United Statesmarker were:

* No longer active in Alpha Phi Omega

On December 30, 2006, the 2006 National Convention in Louisville, Kentuckymarker elected the first female National President of the organization, Maggie Katz. Brother Katz was re-elected, without contest, on December 30, 2008 in Boston, Massachusettsmarker.

International Council

The International Council of Alpha Phi Omega (ICAPO) was created at the 1994 Dallas-Fort Worth Alpha Phi Omega (USA) national convention with the signing of the charter document. Meetings followed at the 1995 Alpha Phi Omega (Philippines) and the 1996 Phoenix Alpha Phi Omega - USA national convention. At the 1996 convention, a formal set of operating policies for the council was signed and the first officers were elected. ICAPO meetings now occur in conjunction with Alpha Phi Omega national conventions in the USA and the Philippines.


Typical fraternity projects include blood drives, tutoring, charity fundraising events, Scouting events, used book exchange, campus escort initiatives, and housing construction/rehabilitation. Signature projects are the annual National Service Week, in the first full week of November, and the National Spring Youth Service Day in April. Many of the operations of individual chapters are left to their own discretion, though most chapters have membership requirements which require a certain number of hours of service each semester.


APO LEADS is a leadership development program organized by the national organization of Alpha Phi Omega in the United States. The APO LEADS program consists of five individual modular components of leadership development. Each of these modular components focus on skills that will help the participant be a successful leader and team member in Alpha Phi Omega and in life. The five components of APO LEADS are Launch, Explore, Achieve, Discover, and Serve. At the completion of the series of courses, the participant will have a set of transferable skills that are applicable to Alpha Phi Omega, to the working world, as well as to leadership in other organizations. APO LEADS has its roots in an earlier program, the Leadership Development Workshop (LDW). The LDW was an all day, eight hour leadership development course that was offered to members during the 1980s and 1990s. It was reorganized into the current APO LEADS program, which was rolled out in 2002.

National Service Week

In the US, Alpha Phi Omega organizes National Service Week (NSW), a project collaboration encompassing all chapters across the nation. The original concept of a "national service project" dates back to the 1948 national convention, in which delegates approved the rebuilding of the Scout Hut at Hallows Church in Londonmarker after World War II. There were several other national service efforts outside of NSW, including a recent international book drive in 2001, in which chapters collected approximately 100,000 books for schools in the Philippines.

NSW began in 1987 as National Service Day, and later expanded to National Service Week in 1997 to allow for greater flexibility and increased participation while retaining the sense of unity of the original concept. NSW is always held during the first full week of November.

A theme for NSW is selected by the delegates of each national convention. Past NSW themes include:

  • 1987 – Diabetes & Other Chronic Illnesses, in honor of Brother Berkeley Duncan, past National Vice President.
  • 1988 – Physically Challenged, Mentally Retarded and Developmentally Disabled
  • 1989 – Environmental Awareness
  • 1990 – War on Poverty
  • 1991 – Literacy
  • 1992 – Career Awareness
  • 1993 – AIDS/HIV Disease Education & Awareness
  • 1994 – Chemical Dependency & Eating Disorder Awareness
  • 1995 – Recycling/Green Projects
  • 1996 – Natural Disaster Preparedness & Personal Safety
  • 1997 – Hunger and Homelessness.
  • 1998 – Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
  • 1999 – Service to the Leaders of the Twentieth Century
  • 2000 – Nurturing the Leaders of the Twenty first Century
  • 2001 – Shaping our Fraternity and Campus Environment for the Future
  • 2002 – Utilizing our Resources to Build a Stronger Community and Nation
  • 2003 – Building a Sound Mind
  • 2004 – Building a Sound Body
  • 2005 – Making Safer Homes
  • 2006 – Building Stronger Communities
  • 2007 – Serving Children with Disabilities
  • 2008 – Serving Adults with Disabilities
  • 2009 – Service to the Earth
  • 2010 – Get the Green Out: Making Communities Greener

Spring Youth Service Day

Spring Youth Service Day is Alpha Phi Omega's effort in participating in the Global Youth Service Day project with its partner organization, Youth Service America. During one weekend in April, millions of youth participate in this project, which bills itself as the largest service event in the world. Projects include tutoring young children, disaster relief, voter registration, nutritional awareness, distributing HIV/AIDS prevention materials, and more. Global Youth Service Day supports youth on a lifelong path of service and civic engagement, and educates the public, the media, and elected officials about the role of youth as community leaders.



The International Council of Alpha Phi Omega (ICAPO) is the coordinating council of the Alpha Phi Omega National Organizations. During the 1980s, contact between Alpha Phi Omega (USA) and Alpha Phi Omega (Philippines) increased. National presidents Earle Herbert (USA) and Carlos "Caloy" Caliwara (Philippines) as well as other leaders in the two organizations concluded there was a need for an international coordinating body to promote the ideals of the fraternity around the world.

As stated in the charter of ICAPO: "The purpose of the ICAPO is to promote the principles and ideals of Alpha Phi Omega, as originally exemplified by Frank Reed Horton, around the world. To this end, the Council aids in introducing and establishing collegiate-based Alpha Phi Omega organizations in countries where it is not now located and assists in institutionalizing Alpha Phi Omega organizations in countries where it is currently introduced or established. It serves as an official link among the variously established independent national Alpha Phi Omega organizations, and works to promote a deeper understanding and an increased working relationship among the independent national organizations."

While the ICAPO binds both Alpha Phi Omega (USA) and Alpha Phi Omega (Philippines) into one larger international organization, the respective national organizations operate as individual organizations with a high degree of autonomy. Alpha Phi Omega (USA) has committed to the establishment of Alpha Phi Omega in Canada, and Alpha Phi Omega (Philippines) has committed to the establishment of Alpha Phi Omega in Australia.

United States

In the United Statesmarker, Alpha Phi Omega is organized into five levels.

  • There are over 350 Chapters and a number of Alumni Associations. Each chapter has student brothers who perform service and elect their officers, as well as Faculty, Scouting, and Service Advisors drawn from the college and local communities. Each Chapter usually has a Sectional Representative appointed by the local Sectional Chair.
  • There are around sixty Sections consisting of geographically close chapters. Each is headed by a Sectional Chair who is elected to a one year term at each Section's annual Conference. Many Sectional Chairs have a group of volunteer Sectional Staff, usually consisting of alumni of various chapters.
  • There are eleven Regions consisting of geographically close sections and chapters. Each is headed by an elected Regional Director who is a member of the National Board, and heads a group of volunteer Regional Staff, usually consisting of alumni of various chapters. Each Director is elected by the chapters in that Region.
  • There is the National Board of Directors, comprising the elected National Officers, the Regional Directors, and others. These officers are elected at the biennial National Convention to two-year terms and include the National President, National Vice-President, six National Program Directors. Appointed officials include the International Relations Directors, National Archivist, Legal Counsel and others.
  • The supreme authority is the National Convention, which meets every two years. It consists of one or two voting delegates from each chapter, one alumni voting delegate from each region, and all the members of the National Board of Directors. These voting delegates consider changes to the Fraternity's policies, Bylaws, and Articles of Incorporation for the National Board of Directors to handle between Conventions. All members of the Fraternity are invited to attend, to participate in leadership development seminars, service projects, and fellowship events.


Alpha Phi Omega of the United States has 738 chartered chapters. It currently has 367 chapters that are active, 14 Petitioning Groups, 19 Interest Groups, and 343 that are inactive. (Petitioning and Interest groups include both those at schools which have previously had active chapters and those that have not. In addition Alpha Phi Omega has 16 charters at schools which have closed or merged with another school with an older charter.

A list of all U.S.marker chapters is available here (includes links to individual chapter websites).

National Office

The National Office for Alpha Phi Omega of the United States is at 14901 E. 42nd St., Independence, Missourimarker 64055-7347. Here the employees run the Fraternity's day-to-day operations, including the National Executive Director and others. Past locations of the Alpha Phi Omega of the United States office include:

Years Location
1927-28 Carnegie Library of Homesteadmarker, Munhall, Pennsylvaniamarker
1929 606 W. Cork St, Winchester, Virginiamarker
1930-31 Box 360, Winchester, Virginia (Frank Reed Horton's mailbox)
1931-33 Ivanhoe Club Building, 3215 Park Avenue, Kansas City, Missourimarker
1934 410-11 Land Bank Building, Kansas City 6, Missouri
1935-36 505 Land Bank Building, Kansas City 6, Missouri
1936-38 410 Land Bank Building, Kansas City 6, Missouri
1938-49 407 Land Bank Building, Kansas City 6, Missouri
1949-61 419 Columbia Bank Building, Kansas City 6, Missouri (Building imploded)
1961-86 1100 Waltower Building, 823 Walnut Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64106
1986-90 400 Mainmark Building, 1627 Main Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64108
1990-current 14901 E. 42nd St., Independence, Missourimarker 64055-7347


The national organization of Alpha Phi Omega in the Philippines maintains a four layer administrative structure:
  • Collegiate Chapters
  • Regional Development Directorates
  • National Executive Board
  • General Assembly

National Office

The National Office for Alpha Phi Omega of the Philippines is at 301-A Two Seventy Midtower Condominium270 Ermin Garcia, Brgy Silangan, Cubao, QC Past locations of the Alpha Phi Omega of the Philippines office include:

Years Location
?–1975 Boy Scouts of the Philippines building at Ermita, Manilamarker.
1975–77 Residence of Dr. Librado I. Ureta in Taytay, Rizal
1977–? Residence of Mel S. Gonzales Jr. in Tondo, Manilamarker
?–? Office of Jose V. Cutaran in Cubao, Quezon City
?–? Office of Efren Neri at Comfoods building in Buendia, Makati Citymarker
?–? Office of Col. Oscar V. Lazo Jr. at Borres building in Cubao, Quezon City
?–? Office of Geoffrey A. Pungutan, Al-Haj, at Usman building in Malate, Manilamarker (Disputed)
?–? Leased office at Don Calvo building in Escolta, Manilamarker
–2003– V.V. Soliven Complex, 2nd Floor, Epifaniode los Santos Avenue, San Juan, Manilamarker
?(after 2003)–current 301-A Two Seventy Midtower Condominium,270 Ermin Garcia, Brgy Silangan, Cubao, QC


Alpha Phi Omega of the Philippines has charters (either fraternity, sorority or both) at 243 colleges and universities.


Alpha Phi Omega of the United States offers active membership (brotherhood) to be granted to all students enrolled at colleges and universities with active chapters of Alpha Phi Omega. Individual chapters are granted flexibility in determining the level of activity of Graduate Students at their institution. Honorary membership may be granted by either active chapters or by the National Board of Directors.

Until the 1967 Constitutional Convention, current or former membership in Scouting was a requirement to become an active brother. For example, in the Alpha Phi Omega National Constitution in 1957:
Article III, Section 2: Active membership shall be granted to college students who are or have been previous affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America or any Boy Scout Movement recognized by the International Association, and no restrictions as to Scout rank attained shall be imposed as a membership qualification.

Being a boy scout as a youth was not required. For example, Bill Clinton was a cub scout, but not a scout while growing up and was able to join Alpha Phi Omega as a student, and the bylaws also allowed for men to qualify by registering with their local council in positions such as merit badge counsellor or College Scouter Reserve.

National Conventions

National conventions in Alpha Phi Omega are biennial gatherings of the respective national organization of the fraternity, in which official business is conducted and brothers from the various chapters in the organization meet to share ideas, expanding leadership, friendship, and service. In the very early years, decisions of the National Fraternity were conducted by mail. The first actual assembly of delegates in a convention was held in St. Louis, Missourimarker, on March 1-2, 1931. Seven of the fraternity's eighteen chapters were represented at this convention by a total of 23 students and advisors.

Alpha Phi Omega of the United States conducts biennial national conventions in even-numbered years, and as of 2008, forty conventions have been held. The last convention held was in Boston, Massachusetts. Conventions were not held in 1942 and 1944 due to World War II, and a special Constitutional Convention was held in 1967. Alpha Phi Omega of the Philippinesmarker conducts biennial national conventions in odd-numbered years, and as of 2007, twenty-four conventions have been held.

In the US, national conventions are officially called to order by an opening ceremony in which the Eternal Flame of Service is brought forth by members of the Delta Omega chapter at the University of Houstonmarker. This tradition was started after the twenty-first national convention in Dallas, Texasmarker. In the early hours of December 30, 1970, the delegates of the Delta Omega chapter met in a ceremony in the suite of H. Roe Bartle, with the newly-elected members of the National Board of Directors and National President Aubrey B. Hamilton. Bartle lit a small blue candle that he in turn used to light a hurricane lamp, which was then passed from the blue candle to each of the board members' candles. He then joined the board members to light two four foot candles. The flame was then taken to Houston and allowed to burn while awaiting the completion of the Eternal Flame site.

Convention attendance has grown considerably through the years. The largest convention attendance in the US to date has been 2,316 in New Orleans, Louisianamarker in 2002, and the largest number of chapters represented was 235 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniamarker in 2000.


The official publication of the fraternity is the Torch & Trefoil. First published as the Lightbearer in February 1927, the name was changed to the Torch & Trefoil by the decision of the Fifth Alpha Phi Omega national convention in December 1934. The new name was from the Torch as the emblem of Education and the Trefoil as the emblem of Scouting. A version is published quarterly by the national organization of the United States, as well as a separate version by the national organization of the Republic of the Philippines. The Lightbearer has been published since 1966 as a separate daily publication during Alpha Phi Omega National Conventions, and distributed to convention attendees. In addition, the monthly mailing from the fraternity to its chapters is the Chapter Bulletin.

Copies of recent Torch & Trefoils are available at the Torch & Trefoil index on the Alpha Phi Omega National Web site.

Copies of recent Chapter Bulletins are available at the Chapter Bulletin index on the Alpha Phi Omega National Web site.

See also


Further reading

  • "The APO History" in "Alpha Phi Omega Torch and Trefoil" diamond jubilee program for the 13th National Biennial Convention, Boy Scouts of the Philippines, Mt. Makiling, Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines, December 1985.

External links

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