In 1936, Circle K was instituted as a fraternity at Washington State University by the Kiwanis Club of Pullman, Washington. The idea started with Jay N. Emerson, who was later elected Kiwanis International President. His interest led to the building of the first Circle K club in 1947 at Carthage College, Illinois.

Other Kiwanians became interested, and during the next eight years 168 Circle K clubs were started in the United States and Canada. In October 1955 representatives from these clubs met in Philadelphia and voted to form an international organization under the sponsorship of Kiwanis. In 1956, a special department was created in the Kiwanis International Office to serve as the International Headquarters for Circle K.

Today, as the largest collegiate service organization, CKI boasts a membership of more than 11,000 collegians on more than 500 campuses worldwide. CKI is a student-led organization with an International Board of Representatives elected by its membership each year. Embodied by its tenets of leadership, fellowship, and service at the club, district, and International levels, CKI continues to grow through service to the world’s campuses and communities.


1936: Circle K concept presented at the collegiate level at Washington State University.
1947: First CKI club chartered at Carthage College, Illinois.
1949: CKI becomes an international organization with the chartering of a club at the University of Western Ontario.
1953: Kenneth B. Creasy of Ohio Wesleyan University is elected as President of CKI.
1955: CKI Constitution and Bylaws adopted.
1957: Texas-Oklahoma becomes the first district of CKI.
1971: Females welcomed into CKI.
1982: CKI membership surpasses 14,500 members.
1999: CKI leadership dedicates 1999 as the Year of Service.
2000: Members of CKI surpass the US$420,000 mark in the effort to eliminate iodine deficiency disorders.
2005: CKI marks its 50th anniversary.
2007: CKI announces its international fundraiser, Saving Lives: The Six Cents Initiative, which focuses on getting clean water to children who need it most.
[Source: Circle K International]