Circle of Sisterhood: Paying Education Forward

Posted on July 13, 2012, by Allen Ross, Half the Sky Movement

After reading in Half the Sky about the transformative effects that women's education can have within a community, Ginny Carroll decided to take action. Since her educational history and professional background provided a lasting affinity for the sorority system, it seemed like a natural next step to leverage the collective giving power of sorority women on behalf of girls without access to schooling. In 2010, she established the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation, an organization of more than fifty volunteers that collects donations from sorority chapters and gives small grants to education programs around the world. From the outset, Ginny was confident that sorority women would be receptive to Circle of Sisterhood's goals. "They're already organized, they already understand philanthropy, they already give millions of dollars a year to domestic work," she explained. "The vision was, this was a way for all sorority women, no matter what letters they wear, to have a global effect."

Members of the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation with Sheryl WuDunn (Photo courtesy Ginny Carroll)

Circle of Sisterhood's mission –– to fight against the numerous obstacles that deter girls in poorer areas from enrolling in school –– has taken a multitude of forms since the foundation's inception. Projects have included, among many others, the donation of 38 volumes of Braille educational texts to a home for young blind women in Northern Ethiopia and the creation of a grant that would cover all schooling costs for nearly forty girls in Tanzania. Underpinning Circle of Sisterhood's work is a strong sense of solidarity. "I felt very strongly that as an educated woman, and a college-educated woman for that matter, when not even seven percent of the world has a college education, that if educating girls is a big part of the solution, then I had a responsibility to help," Ginny said.

Circle of Sisterhood receives a check from the High Point University Panhellenic Council (Photo courtesy Ginny Carroll)

For all their work abroad, Circle of Sisterhood has also invested considerable effort to spread awareness in the United States. More than 100 college campuses and dozens of sororities have become involved, and Circle of Sisterhood even plans to host screening parties for the Half the Sky PBS television premiere on October 1 and 2.

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