Kappa Alpha Theta’s selection of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) as the national philanthropy in 1989 is a part of the continuum of support the Fraternity has given to organizations that support children.
One of the first Theta-supported national projects beginning in 1942 was the Foster Parents Plan. During World War II, individual college and alumnae chapters financially supported a child living in another country. As a result of Theta’s efforts, the Fraternity received the first national “Brotherhood of Children Award” from the Foster Parents Plan in 1954. By 1964, Theta had helped more than 600 children and donated more than $111,000 (or $830,000 in today’s dollars).
In 1946, Grand Convention delegates approved the Institute of Logopedics as the Fraternity’s national philanthropy. Now known as Heartspring, the institute worked with individuals, particularly children, with communication disorders. The Fraternity provided funds for the occupational therapy department, a residential grouping of three buildings called “Theta Court,” and other initiatives. By 1986, Theta had donated more than $1 million. Dr. Martin F. Palmer, The Institute of Logopedics’ founder, considered Theta’s involvement with the Institute a dream come true, and wrote, “If there were not one cent involved, this would be a tremendous opportunity. To have thousands of college educated women in cities and small towns in all parts of the country fully informed as to what can be done for these children is something no money can buy.”
The desire to have a connection with an organization with a larger national presence led Theta to look at a new national philanthropy in the late 1980s. Among the several organizations considered, CASA came to the forefront. Theta members had connections to the CASA program even before it was selected as the national philanthropy. In 1988, the Austin Alumnae Chapter, alongside Alpha Theta/Texas members, helped raised more than $3,000 for CASA of Travis County.
CASA, once selected, was introduced to Fraternity members in the Autumn 1989 issue of the Magazine. By the spring of 1990, college and alumnae chapters were raising funds for CASA. The first Kappa Alpha Theta Program Director of the Year award was presented to Marjorie MacAdams, the first president of the National CASA Association at the CASA annual conference in 1990.
Over the years, Thetas have supported CASA not only financially but also with their own time, becoming trained volunteers working with individual children. The tradition of helping children continues to this day!