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 States, 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 Philippines 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 two hundred 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 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 that have houses, to also join APO.
Alpha Phi Omega was founded on December 16, 1925 at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, 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, national director of 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.
Beginnings of an international fraternity
By 1950, Alpha Phi Omega had 227 chapters in the United States. The first chapter outside the US was organized in the Philippines that year. Many Filipinos were active in the Boy Scouts. Sol Levy, an APO member from Washington State University introduced the organization to Filipino Scouts. Librado Ureta, a graduate student at Far Eastern University in Manila, was among the audience. Inspired by Levy's words, he read the publications and shared them with fellow Eagle Scouts and students on the FEU campus. He asked their opinion about Brother 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.