Circle of Women

Rating: 5 stars   18 reviews

Issues: International

Location: P.O Box 381365 Cambridge MA 02238 USA

Mission: We mobilize students to provide access to education for girls without it. We collaborate with communities eager to implement innovative, sustainable, and localized solutions to increase girls’ access to secondary schools. In doing so, we cultivate a new generation of global citizens by providing students at home with hands-on opportunities in organizational leadership, fundraising, and project management. We also raise public awareness about the health, education, and interests, so that our project becomes a global exchange of information and resources.
Results: In 2009, after 18 months of construction and fundraising about $180,000, Circle opened the doors to its first girls school. The two-story building has twelve classrooms that service the community as a gathering place after school hours. Local leaders registered the school with the Afghan Ministry of Education and designed the curriculum after state standards. In 2010, after the major earthquake hit Pakistan and badly damaged the local secondary school for girls, Circle of Women, in partnership with the Nathiagali Residence Committee, embarked on a large-scale re-building of the girls’ school involving the construction and installation of four new bathrooms and a septic tank, a computer lab, two drinking water tanks and a library. Currently, Circle of Women is building a boarding house in Cumbum, India, to increase access to education for girls who would otherwise have to stay at home because of recent increases in reports of sexual assault, and the single-sex (male-only) policy of many local hostels.
2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

I have been involved with Circle of Women since its inception in 2006 and have seen the organization grow from a handful of students exchanging big ideas in college dorm rooms to a professional, student-run organization with chapters across the country and internationally. My experience with Circle of Women has been invaluable, both personally and professionally. The organization has introduced me to dear friends; it has challenged me to develop strong management and organizational skills; and it has been a launching pad for my career in international development. One Circle's greatest strengths is that it is an organization that thinks before it acts, whether through detailed research on potential projects and partners or careful consideration and reconsideration of its mission and theory of change. The organization's commitment to reflection, self-critique, and impact ensures that it avoids cookie-cutter approaches to women's education in the developing world and instead focuses on what works in what context.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of advisors?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Rating: 5 stars  

Circle of Women has allowed me, a mere rising junior in college, to feel as though I am making a tangible, meaningful impact on women’s education at a global level. This is no small feat. Circle not only raises the funds necessary for our projects abroad through our innovative, creative, and tenacious efforts, but then works actively with partners on the ground, chapters across the county, and other NGO’s to make informed, highly strategized decisions about how best to translate these dollars into the education of another young girl. Sometimes, this means something intuitive—such as building a school. And yet in other instances, a village may call for a hostel, a computer lab, or even sanitary napkins. Circle’s members recognize how crucial these seemingly tedious details can be in determining the enrollment and success of our students. But our focus on women’s education is not simply unilateral. In the process of connecting a young girl in Pakistan to a classroom, we, Circle’s members, find ourselves applying for grants, filing taxes, acquiring and coordinating with corporate sponsors, designing compelling media, and raising awareness in our communities. That is to say, through this journey we too are learning.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

In my two years with Circle of Women, I have just been blown away by how much this student organization has and continues to accomplish. Whether it be a personal fundraiser lead by a few students or a campus-wide event attracting many, CoW has already made an impressive effort to improve access to education in the local and international community. We may be young, but we're making our mark.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Rating: 5 stars  

This is such a fantastic grassroots organization that does extraordinary things with relatively little money--because of Circle of Women, thousands of girls in developing countries have had access to a secondary school education. The volunteers who make Circle the amazing organization it is, myself included, grow as people while learning valuable skills and passionately helping girls half a world away.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Rating: 5 stars  

Over the three years that I have volunteered with Circle of Women, I have had the pleasure of witnessing the organization experience dramatic growth, stretching the scope of its projects over two continents and expanding its volunteer base to high schools and colleges throughout the United States. However, what has been most impressive to me has been Circle's ability to maintain, despite this tremendous growth, the grassroots energy that marked the organization at its inception in 2006. The resilience of its clear vision and collaborative spirit make Circle of Women a unique and valuable addition to the non-profit world and assures me that the organization will be able to develop in many successful and exciting directions in years to come.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

My experience with Circle of Women has been one of my most rewarding and enriching to date, and I trust that other people who have been involved in or touched by the organization would agree. The group of young women that has developed and managed Circle of Women is phenomenally creative, dynamic, and passionate. One of Circle of Women's strongest convictions is its commitment to excellence: No project goes without thorough pre-development research or follow-up evaluation. Every volunteer has a worthwhile and active role in shaping Circle of Women's future. I can't wait to see what the organization has in store for the coming years!

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

Circle of Women has been a defining part of my time at Harvard thus far. It continues to be a personally changing experience for me as an individual as well as constantly presenting an opportunity for me to see the incredible collective impact that college students and young professionals can make on the world. As a primarily collegiate organization, Circle has incredibly unique fundraising efforts, and a unique appreciation of girl's secondary school education; we all have incredible stories of how education has impacted us, how great teachers have allowed us to get where we are today. Circle firmly believes that that access and opportunity is the right of every child, of every girl and that consequently, girl's education is a worthy, and immediately necessary investment to make. One of the most unique parts of Circle of Women in comparison to other nonprofit solutions is the localized and customized solutions that our research team comes up with for each project. Instead of coming into these communities and preaching the importance of education and dumping a school there and then handing off the key with no further instructions, Circle hopes to give these communities a chance to take ownership of the change that they will enact. We work with on the ground NGOs and contractors to build to the school and ensure sustainability. The enthusiasm, passion and creativity of the young women I have worked with in this organization never stops amazing me. With two new projects on the table and research in the works, I can't wait to see what future growth we'll have.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

How did you learn about this organization?

I learned about it word-of-mouth during a college tour at Harvard from then-member, Emily Milan.

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Rating: 5 stars  

Circle of Women (Circle) is one of the most professional student run organizations that I know. While the organization is relatively young, the women involved work exceptionally hard to establish a database of resources. It prides itself in having high standards for everything it does - from approving project proposals, to fundraising events, to external communications. I am currently working to develop a new project for Circle to fund. The other women in Circle have helped advise me to improve my proposal and not settle for anything but the best. Circle funds projects that not only increase women's access to education but are sustainable and will continue to prosper independently. This fact has caused me to reexamine the work of other non-profits. It is essential that other groups follow Circle's lead and help empower women to continue to be educated and prosper long past the nonprofit's financial support. I truly believe that Circle of Women is an exemplary non-profit not only because of the work it does, but because of the standard that it holds itself to in conducting its business.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful?