02.27.12 / Category: Campus Spotlights

Campus Spotlight: University of South Florida

Students purchase "circles" to share messages about girls' education.

I am currently living the dreams of my founders. I am currently in a community of women who are living the dreams their founders. This is a dream that has come to a reality with the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation.

I learned about the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation at the Southeastern Panhellenic Conference (SEPC) in spring 2011. The Foundation’s mission automatically hit home and I was anxious to bring it back to my community.

I focused on why the Foundation chose sorority women as its target audience in the first place. It makes sense – our founders had to fight for women’s rights towards education. Through the Circle of Sisterhood, we can give other underprivileged girls and women the opportunity to receive an education.

Last spring I was serving as my chapter’s Panhellenic Delegate and within two weeks of returning from SEPC, I approached the Panhellenic Council Meeting about adopting the Circle of Sisterhood as our community philanthropy. I felt it would emotionally connect Panhellenic sisters together and to a cause.

My Panhellenic sisters agreed, as all eight chapters unanimously passed the change.

The awareness process began with ease – chapter members began following Circle of Sisterhood on social media outlets, watching videos and expressing the benefits to potential new members at Formal Recruitment.

When the position of Director of Philanthropy on the Panhellenic executive cabinet opened in the fall, I jumped on the opportunity. In this new role, I knew spreading awareness would be the key.

Our first main fundraiser was fairly simple and provided access for many to get involved. We sold paper circles in our student center for $1. Individuals could write any message on the circles; our favorites included fun messages like, “Girls Rock!”

Here are the ideas I used to educate my peers at USF about Circle of Sisterhood and promote our first fundraiser:

  • We made it a competition between sororities to get the most “circles.” At USF we have a sister sorority program where one chapter is paired with another for a year, and they are encouraged to collaborate with events and support.
  • We partnered with a local frozen yogurt business which donated 10 percent of sorority sales to the Foundation. For every $1 spent, the sorority earned a “circle.”
  • At USF, we have “Bull Market” every Wednesday where any organization can set up a booth to promote, advertise, raise funds, etc. We displayed a tri-fold of Circle of Sisterhood information and passed out information about our fundraiser.
  • For the two Wednesdays prior to the event, I created a Facebook page for our efforts – www.facebook.com/usfcircleofsisterhood. I post to this periodically to share event news and updates, as well as information about the global education of women.
  • Students who read about the Circle of Sisterhood and "liked" the group's Facebook page received more information and desserts.

    We also combined every college student’s two favorite things – free dessert and social media. Any passerby that “liked” our Facebook page on one of our provided laptops received a treat, baked by the Panhellenic sororities in our community. This got the sisters involved on a personal level, contributing to the awareness campaign. We received more than 150 likes each day and began sharing videos and inspiring Circle of Sisterhood accomplishments to our own Facebook page.

We will use the circles for future advertising, including a mural, event decoration and more. Together, we raised $275 dollars, which means we provided about five girls with education.

This is only the beginning. This year, USF is working on a campus-wide event, “USF IDOL,” in which all proceeds will be donated to Circle of Sisterhood. Our hope is for women to come together, whether affiliated or not, to help girls around the world.

It only takes one woman to get started. The USF Panhellenic community has a lot of women and a lot of support.

Our expressed values in the USF Panhellenic community are to “Grow. Unite. Inspire.” The Circle of Sisterhood Foundation helps us put our values in action. What could be better?

This blog was written by Danielle Kushner, the Vice President of External Affairs for the Panhellenic Council at University of South Florida. She was previously the council’s Director of Philanthropy and coordinated fundraising efforts and awareness programs.