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.

Timeline

CKI Founded

December 31, 1936

The concept of Circle K was presented at Washington State University.

First CKI Charter

December 31, 1947

In 1947, the first Circle K club was chartered at Carthage College in Illinois.

CKI Becomes International

January 1, 1949

Circle K becomes an international organization with the charter of a club at the University of Western Ontario.

First CKI Convention

September 8, 1954

A meeting of 35 Circle K clubs, including 114 members, took place in September of 1954 to elect officers and seek recognition by Kiwanis International.

New Jersey Becomes a District

January 1, 1964

In 1964, New Jersey (the freshest state in the union) becomes a CKI district.

CKI Becomes Co-Ed

February 6, 1972

Circle K became co-ed on February 6, 1972 when the Illinois-Eastern Iowa district welcomed women into the organization.

CKI Hits Membership Highs

August 14, 1982

Circle K International surpasses 14,500 members across the world.

CKI Fundraising Highs

July 10, 2000

Members of Circle K International raised over $420,000 in an effort to eliminate iodine deficiency disorders.

CKI’s 50th Birthday

January 1, 2005

In 2005, Circle K International celebrated 50 years of service, fellowship, and leadership.

50 Years of Being Fresh!

February 22, 2014

In 2014, New Jersey Circle K celebrated its 50th Anniversary as a Circle K district.

CKI and WASH

July 1, 2017

Circle K International partnered with UNICEF to adopt the five-year signature project WASH. Circle K International aims to provide education, awareness, and funding to supply clean drinking water and sanitation education to schools and children in Haiti.

Changes in CKI Pledge

June 29, 2019

Delegates at the 64th annual International House of Delegates voted on a change to the Circle K International Pledge which passed as: “I pledge, to uphold the Objects of Circle K International, to foster compassion and goodwill towards other’s through service and leadership, to develop my abilities and the abilities of all people, and to dedicate myself to the realization of humanity’s potential” – in which the major change was replacing the word “mankind” with “humanity’s.”