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Chapters/Start a New Chapter

Do You Want to Start a New Chapter of STLF?

You have come to the right place!  All STLF College Chapters exist because students like yourself took the initiative and made the commitment to do what it takes to bring STLF to their campus.  While it is no small task to establish and run a successful STLF Chapter, it is an incredible and rewarding experience.  Read more below to learn the basics to start a lasting tradition on your campus through STLF and the Pay It Forward Tour.

To visit with someone at STLF about starting a Chapter, please call or text us at 612-276-2003, or email Ellie Thorstad at ellie@stlf.net.

General Information about STLF College Chapters:

Before you get too far in, here are some important items for you to know about all STLF Chapters:

  • Leadership Structure: STLF operates on all levels through a unique model of collective leadership called the Core Model.  This means that all Chapters and programs are organized and lead by a group of 3-5 students who work together on the same level of responsibility to accomplish a goal or objective.  Click here to learn more about the Core Model.
  • Retreats and Conferences: STLF National coordinates two Conferences and two Retreats each year.  Each experience has a unique focus and combined they provide your Chapter and its leadership with the essential knowledge and resources to ensure for your success. Each Chapter must be represented if at all possible at these four leadership and training experiences:
  • Pay It Forward Tour: The core program that all STLF Chapters have in common is the Pay It Forward Tour over spring break.  Most new Chapters begin with their main focus on organizing a Pay It Forward Tour during their first year.  Once a successful Tour takes place, you should have the energy and following to do some great things throughout the year on your campus.  Click here to learn more about the College Pay It Forward Tour program.
  • National Support: STLF's National Office is committed to working with you to establish and run a successful Chapter.  In addition to training and guidance through Retreats and Conferences, we are always willing to travel to your Chapter and visit through phone and email conversations.  Additional support exists through high-level program coordination, liability insurance, chapter website, online registration, detailed guidebooks, financial reporting, leadership training, and much more.
  • It's Your Chapter: STLF National and our staff are here to provide support and guidance each step of the way, but this is your organization.  Each Chapter operates as its own organization and manages their own budget, local activities and events, and leadership.  All we ask that the Pay It Forward Tour is the common program of all Chapters, that all Chapters carry out the Core Model leadership structure, and all other efforts are positively aligned with our mission to reveal leadership through service, relationships, and action.  

Action Steps from Now through your First Tour:


Step 1 - Create a Chapter Core

STLF believes that any program or any chapter is a reflection of the strength of its leadership core.  The first step to starting a Chapter is to establish your Chapter Core - a group of 3-5 students who work together to run the Chapter.  It helps to have the Core consist of students who have already had an STLF experience, but its not required.  This is a group of people that you will be working closely together to make a lot of major decisions, so helps to have a core of people who think differently, complement each other well, trust each other, and are committed to the relationships amongst the group.

In the first year, the Chapter Core will likely also serve as the Bus Core (meaning you will also organize and lead your Pay it Forward Tour).  In future years as your Chapter grows and more students want to lead, you will work to create a separate Chapter Core to run the organization, while the Bus Core organizes and leads to the Tour.

Step 2 - Committing to Attending STLF Retreats and Conferences

Attendance at all four STLF Retreats and Conferences are essential to the success of all STLF Chapters, especially startup Chapters in their first year.  All of these experiences are free of charge and incredibly important parts of understanding STLF, building relationships, and obtaining the knowledge and skills that will help you succeed.

STLF recognizes that its Chapters are becoming quite geographically widespread and makes every effort to host these experiences in locations accessible by your Chapter.  STLF National is also willing to work with you on providing some financial assistance if needed for transportation to and from retreats and conferences.


Step 3 - Establishing STLF as a Student Group on Your Campus

All STLF Chapters must be established as a student group on your campus to be fully recognized by STLF National as a Chapter.  This process varies by campus, and STLF National will work with you on any questions or needs you have during this process.  Your office of student activities on your campus will generally be able to guide you through this process.  Please contact us for any helpful resources you may need, such as a sample constitution, letter of affiliation, or similar required documents.


Step 4 - Starting a Bank Account

Each STLF Chapter is responsible for managing and accounting for their own finances.  STLF National will provide support in the process to set up a bank account (unless your account is through your school as a student group).  If your student activities office allows you to create a separate checking account not through the school, we highly recommend this for easier access to and tracking of your finances.  We will also provide a customized easy-to-use accounting program, financial training, and will file all financial reports and tax-returns to the IRS on your behalf.


Step 5 - Plan and Recruit for the Tour!

Now that you have gone through most of the red tape and created the organization, it is now time to start recruiting and planning your Tour!  Schedule some info meetings, talk to classes, tell your friends, create Facebook events, visit other student group meetings, hang up posters, get on the phones, and make it happen!  It's a lot of hard work and won't come without its frustrations and challenges, but it is surely an experience you will learn from, never regret, and have fun doing.

One Step at a Time:

It can sometimes be sort of a daunting task to think about all the requirements of starting a Chapter at once. Remember though that we will take this one step at a time and work with you to guide you through the process and be a resource whenever needed.  Before you know it, you will have provided an amazing experience for your classmates and school, and have started a lasting tradition.  The most exciting part is that the ripple effect of your work as it leads to so much more will be carried in the spirit of paying it forward on one person and one action at a time.




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