On February 17, 1897, the two founders, Alice McLellan Birney and Phoebe Apperson Hearst, looked out at the 2,000 people from across the country who gathered for the Mothers Congress' first meeting in Washington, DC, and saw the beginning of the largest (and now oldest) volunteer organization that works exclusively on behalf of children and youth.
In 1926, Selena Sloan Butler formed the Mothers Congress' counterpart. She was the founder and first president of the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers (NCCPT). After working 50 years apart, NCCPT and the National Congress of Parents and Teachers united in 1970 to expand their outreach. All three women-Selena Sloan Butler, Alice McLellan Birney and Phoebe Apperson Hearst-believed in making everyone aware of children's needs and possibilities.
February 17 became known as Founders Day since it celebrated the founding of PTA.
In January of 1930 during a national radio broadcast from Washington DC, Mary Grinnell Mears described the significance of Founders Day in the life of the PTA: "This annual celebration should give local parent-teacher associations a closer touch with the national organization. It should impart information regarding the beginning of the organization and the high ideals of the founders and their associates. The purposes, needs, and achievements of the National (Congress) should be clearly presented with its recognized value to child welfare. Emphasis should be laid on its importance in the educational, religious, philanthropic, and social life of the country.
NYS PTA Honorary Life/DSA Membership Recipients
An alphabetical list (22 pages) of NYS PTA Honorary Life/DSA Membership recipients from our district can be downloaded from this website.
Honorary Life Membership (Nomination Form)
- Purpose: The purpose of this award is to recognize individuals for their contributions to the welfare of children and youth. The $55 that each unit pays for each nominee elected, supports the Twin Projects.
- Eligibility: The award is given only to individuals - who need not be a member of PTA. They need not be well-known beyond their own area of service.
- Application: Applications are sent directly to all unit and council presidents or may be requested from the New York State PTA office. The completed form should be accompanied by a payment of $55 designated to either of the Twin Projects (Jenkins Memorial Scholarship or the Richard Gazzola Teacher Fellowship) or a check of $27.50 for each fund. Payment should be sent to the NYS PTA.
- Selection Criteria: A PTA unit, council or region may award an Honorary Life Membership to an individual as recognition of distinguished service to children and youth. Recipients worthy of honor need not be PTA members nor well-known beyond their own area of service.
- Award: The recipient receives a Life Membership pin, congratulatory card, and a presentation card.
- Deadline: The completed application form and accompanying payment must be received in the New York State PTA office at least four weeks prior to the presentation of the award.
- Note: This is an honorary award. In order to be a member of the New York State/National PTA the recipient must purchase a membership in a unit or Empire State PTA.
Distinguished Service Award (Nomination Form)
- Purpose: The purpose of this award is to recognize outstanding contributions to the welfare of children and youth or to a PTA organization.
- Eligibility: Recipients must be PTA members who have been awarded a State Honorary Life Membership. The Distinguished Service Award may be given only by the New York State PTA or by its regions, councils or units.
- Application: Applications are sent directly to all unit and council presidents or may be requested from the New York State PTA office. The completed form should be accompanied by a payment of $75 payable to New York State PTA.
- Selection Criteria: The award is given to PTA officers or members who have served faithfully, but it is reserved chiefly for those who have devoted exemplary service to the maintenance and growth of the PTA. Service to children and youth may encompass work within the community and/or school.
- Award: The recipient of the award receives a certificate and a Distinguished Service pin.
- Deadline: The application form and accompanying payment must be received in the New York State PTA office at least four weeks prior to the presentation of the award.