For a brief history of Circle K International, keep reading! For a more detailed history, check out this history: CKI History

History of Circle K International

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.

Circle K International is the world’s largest collegiate organization dedicated to service and leadership development with more than 500 clubs in nineteen countries.

Important Dates

1936 – The Pullman Washington Kiwanis Club established the “Circle K House” at Washington State College.

1947 – Circle K changed from a fraternity to a service – orientated organization and the first Circle K club was chartered at Carthage College in Carthage, Illinois.

1949 – CKI became an international organization with the chartering of the University of Western Ontario Club.

1953 – Kenneth B. Creasy of Ohio Wesleyan University is elected as International President of Circle K International.

1954 – The first annual Circle K convention was held at Carthage College with 114 members present.

1955 – International recognition was granted to Circle K and the Constitution and Bylaws were adopted.

1959 – There were 217 Circle K clubs and 4,413 members.

1971 – Article III section 6 was added to the bylaws, allowing women to join Circle K.

1977 – Jamaica became the 4th nation to join Circle K International.

1980 – Mexico became the 6th nation to join Circle K International and International grew to 14,500 members.

1982 – CKI membership surpasses 14,500 members.

1989 – The first recognized district alumni associations were in the Louisiana-Mississippi-West Tennessee and Ohio Districts.

1993 – At International Convention, the International Board unveiled the first service program in the organization’s history: the 1993 –95 Service Initiative: Focusing on the Future: Children. 

1999 – CKI leadership dedicated 1999 as the Year of Service.

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.


History of the Ohio District:

The Ohio District was chartered in 1958 with 10 clubs. The Ohio State University is the only club that has maintained its charter continuously since the beginning. The most clubs chartered in one year was 35 in 1968. Today, there are 11 chartered clubs with 4 clubs in the works for reactivation or new charters. The district began with two divisions and has expanded to at most six divisions. Today there are five divisions: Capital, Erie, Western Reserve, River Hills, and Buckeye Trails. Membership hit its high point in 2002-2003 with 751 members. There are currently 189 members in the Ohio District of Circle K International.

2015-16 Ohio District Bylaws

Ohio District CKI Policy Codes