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Helen's Circle

The Helen Clarke Jenks Cleary Giving Circle is named after Helen Cleary, the wife of Cleary University’s founder, in recognition of her many contributions to the university. Helen’s Circle was established with a belief that higher education has a positive effect on society and that Cleary University is educating students to serve a world in need. Helen’s Circle offers financial support to faculty, staff, students, or student organizations to help them achieve goals, dreams, and ideas that could not otherwise be met or promoted within the University’s normal operating budget.

Mission and Purpose

Helen’s Circle aspires to promote the University through investments and grants to University initiatives. We are committed to forging new relationships and building a community of thoughtful, effective women philanthropists, diverse in age, interest, and background.


The Helen Clarke Jenks Cleary Giving Circle at Cleary University aims to:

  1. Make a difference in the University by contributing time, talent, and resources
  2. Encourage a sense of community among those we serve
  3. Educate and increase awareness of Cleary University and its needs
  4. Promote volunteerism and effective philanthropy
  5. Build a network that is a catalyst for positive change

How it Works

Every contributing member pledges a minimum of $500 each fiscal year (beyond any other gifts or contributions made to the University). All donations are deposited into a restricted fund and are only used for grant distributions. The amount of money available for distribution varies each year as it is dependent on the number of Helen’s Circle members.

Faculty, students, student organizations, and staff are invited to apply for Helen’s Circle grants. A committee reviews applications, and the full membership votes on award distribution. Award recipients may be invited to make a short presentation at a membership meeting about how they used grant funds.

The University relies on the continued philanthropy of its many friends and donors to fund scholarships and institutional operations. If you currently support Cleary University, we ask that you also consider Helen’s Circle as an additional way to make a difference.

Projects Funded by Helen's Circle Grants

Since its 2009 inception, Helen’s Circle has funded 86 grants totaling $207,586. Projects funded during the 2019-2020 fiscal year include:

  • $1,000 Student Activity Lounge
  • $1,500 Board of Athletic Teams
  • $3,000 Residence Life Courtyard Project
  • $1,000 Dorm Pool Tables
  • $3,512 Ideation Lab Supplies
  • $4,000 Cleary University Players

TOTAL $14,012

To Join

Please join us in continuing the legacy of the many great women who have contributed to Cleary University! Your membership pledge can be made in annual, semi-annual, or quarterly payments by cash, check, or credit card. Donations to Helen’s Circle are welcome without the commitment of membership. 


Contact Amy Denton
800.686.1883, extension 1556


To be considered, please submit a complete application along with any supporting documentation before March 31st, 2021. Selected applicants will be invited to attend a grants committee meeting to present their application.