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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Circle of Women

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: International, International Development

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.

Programs: Provided funds to barli development institute for rural women, which educates rural, village and tribal women who have not had the opportunity to receive secondary education, to build classroom, computer room and dormitory space for 50 additional students.

provided funds to daraja academy, a free boarding secondary school for girls in east africa, to create additional dormitory housing for 5th year transition students and four secondary classes. Funds also provided for multi-use common room to be used for testing, seminars, study hall and speakers as well as for other social and recreational events.

Community Stories

19 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Circle of Women(CoW) is a brilliant effort to build self-sustainable educational institutions for women in developing nations. I have been thoroughly impressed with the work of CoW. As a student-run organization, CoW has raised funds using unique and creative ideas ranging from poker nights and holiday bazaars to women’s brunches. After working with the organization, I have observed that CoW is extremely efficient and works like a “well oiled machine”. Efforts of these women are laudable and have inspired me to work with them towards an important social cause. Education is synonymous with independence and success. Universal Education is one of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Moreover, in developing nations, a large percentage of women do not have access to formal education (85.1% in Afghanistan). By understanding and addressing this need in developing nations, Circle of Women is acting as a social change agent across borders and changing numerous lives in the process. By maintaining low operation costs and successfully raising funds, CoW is solving an important problem at the grassroots level. Watching women, from one of the world’s greatest educational institutions: Harvard University, work towards the goal of providing underprivileged women in remote areas of the world with post-secondary education, is particularly exciting and satisfying. CoW is committed to working for the educational development of women who lack similar opportunities. We sorely need many CoWs to make this world a better place.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Having volunteered for Circle of Women for two years now, I have found meaning in my college pursuits through working for this incredible organization. Knowing that Circle of Women is putting 2,000+ extra girls in school every year is truly amazing, especially given that it is run full time by students without salaries. Everyone that serves in some capacity with Circle of Women truly cares about empowering and educating women across the globe, and I think that is spectacular. Plus, unlike some charities, you know all of your money is going straight to the good cause! 5 stars all around!

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Going into my 6th year with Circle of Women, I couldn't be more thrilled to work for such an incredible organization! Everything from the other members of the management team, to our graduate board, and the projects themselves has been such a pleasure to be a part of. Circle of Women is an amazing opportunity for students across the country to work together and make a tangible difference in the quest for access to secondary education for girls around the world. Great job Circle!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Circle of Women is a really special organization that gives college students the unique opportunity to have a real impact on bridging the gender gap in education. Not only that, but volunteers also develop their own skills in areas such as fundraising, project development and PR, to name a few. Circle is completely run by students, for students, creating a unique perspective with which to affect the lives of girls across the world.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Circle of Women has done an incredible job helping girls around the world gain access to crucial secondary education opportunities. Since the organization is also entirely student-run, it allows women in the US to gain valuable management, organizational, etc. skills.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Circle of Women quite simply allows girls to invest in themselves through investing in others. It believes that through seeking to educate others, we educate ourselves, building infinite possibility. As a Circle volunteer, donor, and board member, I have seen this organization progress since the beginning and am proud to say that despite its growth and success it has never lost its sense of curiosity, acceptance, and passionate drive.

Donor

Rating: 5

Circle of Women is a great organization that has helped (and continues to help) hundreds of girls gain access to education that they would otherwise not have access to. Equally important, Circle of Women has empowered its members (college students) and armed them with the tools to build an organization and create change. What I love about Circle of Women is that they are not just providing poor girls with access to the classroom, but also teaching others that through hard work, thoughtful strategy, and teamwork anything is possible.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Circle of Women has been the foundation of my college experience. Attending a liberal arts school has at times made me feel disconnected from reality, and in those moments I am especially grateful that Circle of Women exists. The organization takes me out of the college bubble, gaining perspective and concrete experience in not only the non-profit world but also international development. The national network of high school and college students is great and the organization benefits from the greatest young minds in the country. Through pure ingenuity, passion, and drive, this organization has made amazing things happen.

Board Member

Rating: 5

When a couple of friends and I started Circle of Women, we had a basic goal: tap into the high-energy and abundant resources of college campuses to promote women's education by building schools. The way in which the women who lead this organization continue to fine-tune and propel this goal is inspiring. With several building projects comleted and others in process, the organization has started to focus on assessing our impact and growing our network at home. I hope to always be a part of this organization because it creates a fertile environment for young women leaders to improve themselves and the opportunities for those around them.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Having been a supporter of and volunteer with Circle of Women from its beginning, I have seen the transformative power this organization has had not only for those served by the organization's efforts but also for all those who volunteer and support the organization. The organization has drawn attention to important issues. Simultaneously, its work extends far beyond simply drawing attention. Instead, this attention is combined with effective and concrete projects that actively address the goals the organization espouses. Circle of Women has and will continue to make a major impact in the lives of those it purports to benefit as well as in the lives of all of those who help to carry out its mission.

Board Member

Rating: 5

it has been an honor and true pleasure to be involved with such an incredible organization since 2009. Circle of Women has exposed me to an inspiring group of dedicated leaders and change-makers that are passionate about increasing access to education for women and girls around the world. One of the most inspiring components of Circle of Women is the Impact it has had on the members involved resulting in creating a true 360-degree impact on a local and global level. Circle of Women has evolved into an incredible model for driving innovation and ownership both on a collective and individual level. The organization's infrastructure allows for flexibility that engages students by providing an outlet to channel their passions and energy and contribute meaningfully to a tangible goal. I very much look forward to watching Circle of Women continue to strengthen and grow it's network while whole-heartedly pursuing it's mission.

Advisor

Rating: 5

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.

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

meheriq

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

Michelle67

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.