All About Elks

Our Mission Statement

To inculcate the principles of Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love and Fidelity; to recognize a belief in God; to promote the welfare and enhance the happiness of its Members; to quicken the spirit of American patriotism; to cultivate good fellowship; to perpetuate itself as a fraternal organization, and to provide for its government, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America will serve the people and communities through benevolent programs, demonstrating that Elks Care and Elks Share.

Our History

The Elks organization was founded in New York City on February 16, 1868 under the name "Jolly Corks" by 15 actors, entertainers and others associated with the theater. In ensuing years, membership expanded to other professions. When one of their members died shortly before Christmas in 1867, leaving his wife and children destitute, the Jolly Corks decided that in addition to good fellowship, they needed a more enduring organization to serve those in need.

On February 16, 1868, they established the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and elected Charles Algernon Sidney Vivian to head it. Its social activities and benefit performances increased the popularity of the new Order. Membership grew rapidly. Elks traveling to other cities spread the word of the Brotherhood of Elks. Soon there were requests for Elks Lodges in cities other than New York. In response to these appeals, the Elks asked the New York State legislature for a charter authorizing the establishment of a Grand Lodge with the power to establish local Lodges anywhere in the United States. When the Grand Lodge Charter was issued, the founders then received the first local charter as New York Lodge No. 1 on March 10, 1871

What Are Elks?

The Elks are American Citizens who want to save America’s great values. Elks love others and want to make sure they are healthy and happy. They love life, and want to contribute to it, as well as to share it.

A non-profit organization, its full corporate name is Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America. Its declared purposes are to practice its four cardinal virtues, Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love and Fidelity.

The goal of Elks is to:

  • Promote the welfare and enhance the happiness of its members;

  • To quicken the spirit of American patriotism;

  • and to cultivate good fellowship.

What We Do

The Order spends more than $80,000,000 every year for benevolent, educational and patriotic community-minded programs in such fields as benefitting special needs children, sponsoring Elks National Foundation scholarships, scouting, athletic teams, veterans' works, a national "Hoop Shoot" free-throw contest involving more than 3 million children, physical and occupational therapy programs and patriotic programs.

The youth of our country have always been important to the Order. It is for this reason the Elks Drug Awareness Education Program was launched to warn primary grade students and their parents of the dangers in drug use. Additionally, every lodge observes June 14th as Flag Day, a tradition which the Elks began in 1907 and was later adopted by the Congress as an official observance.


Our Scholars

Since 1931, the Elks National Foundation has helped students recognize their academic dreams. Each year, we award more than $3 million in college scholarships to at least 800 outstanding, service-minded high school seniors. Once you're an Elks scholar, you're family