Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois was considered to be a progressive place in the late 1860s. Unlike many institutions of higher learning at the time, Monmouth was coed, however some women on campus were dissatisfied with the fact that while the male students enjoyed membership in fraternities, there was no such organization for women. Desiring the same camaraderie and support as fraternity members, two female students at Monmouth began to take steps to rectify the situation. Mary Louise Bennett and Hannah Jeannette Boyd began to seek “the choicest spirits among the girls,” ending up with a close-knit group of six women who shared similar ideals and enthusiastically endeavored to lay the groundwork for what would publically become on October 13, 1870, the women’s fraternity of Kappa Kappa Gamma (KKG or Kappa).
Since its founding over 140 years ago, Kappa Kappa Gamma has grown into an international women’s society comprised of 134 active chapters and more than 12,200 undergraduate members. The original members of Kappa knew that hard work and determination was essential in order to get ahead in the male-dominated world of the nineteenth-century. This can-do spirit is what sets the Sisters of Kappa apart from their peers, so it is not surprising that many members have gone on to lead very successful lives, including Kate Spade (fashion designer), Ashley Judd (actress), Kirsten Gillibrand (U.S. Senator, New York), and Beverly Perdue (first female governor of North Carolina). With Sisters like these, no wonder so many women want to wear the Kappa Kappa Gamma Dark Blue and Light Blue.
The Kappa Sisters realize that giving back to their communities is one of the most important part of being in a women’s fraternity, so for this reason, Kappa Kappa Gamma has a three-part philanthropy program. The first branch of the program supports the “Kappa family” through the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation, which provides funding for Kappa museums, members-only scholarships, educational and leadership programming, and the Rose McGill fund, which provides emergency financial aid to members in need. The second branch supports the local community by encouraging chapters to raise money and volunteer for charities in their area. The third branch, adopted in 2004, is the Fraternity’s national philanthropy, Reading is Fundamental, which works to promote literacy in children.
Whether they realized the size and scope this women’s fraternity would achieve, the founders of Kappa Kappa Gamma clearly believed in a woman’s potential to inspire others and make the world a better place, and this belief is reflected in their tagline, adopted in 2012, “Aspire to be.” This statement is surprising in its open nature, not telling members what they should be, but rather letting them set their own goals, seek their own dreams. Aspire to be – a doctor, a senator, a mom, a volunteer, or just yourself – it is an inspiring thought that all Sisters of Kappa Kappa Gamma have held close to their hearts since 1870.