Civitan International is an organization of volunteer service clubs around the world, dedicated to helping people in their own communities. Civitans help wherever the need arises – from collecting food for a homeless shelter, to volunteering at their local retirement home, to building a playground for children with disabilities. Civitans have been helping people since the organization’s founding in 1917, by a group of businessmen determined to make a difference in their community.
In the 1950’s, Civitan adopted a special emphasis on helping people with developmental disabilities. Civitan was one of the major supporters of Special Olympics International, and thousands of Civitans still support these local events. Civitan clubs also fund and organize special camps and events for people with developmental disabilities.
The focus of this mission is the UAB Civitan International Research Center, located on the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Made possible through an ongoing financial commitment from Civitan, this world-class research facility is a center for research into disorders such as autism, Down syndrome, brain tumors, epilepsy, and many more.
Civitan also helps fund the Civitan-Sparks Clinics, a treatment and therapy center also located in Birmingham. At this center, children and families with developmental disabilities can receive diagnosis, therapy, counseling, and other resources they need. The Civitan-Sparks Clinics helps thousands of children and families with developmental disabilities each year.
Civitan clubs outside North America are also taking on momentous projects. In the Philippines, the Civitan Asia Training & Research Institute is an academy where doctors, teachers and other professionals learn to serve children with I/DD. In Norway, the Civitan Norway Research Foundation funds crucial scientific research into Alzheimer’s disease. While in West Africa, Civitans provide clean drinking water and education for people in rural communities.
Junior Civitan and Campus Civitan are Civitan’s youth and collegiate programs, respectively. These clubs take on innovative service projects, fundraisers for the Civitan International Research Center, and receive valuable leadership training. Civitan also works to support the next generation of leaders through the Courtney W. Shropshire Scholarships, awarded each year.