Jack and Jill (organization)
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2011)|
Jack and Jill of America is an African American organization formed during the Great Depression. It was formed in 1938 by African American mothers with the idea of bringing together children in a social and cultural environment. Since then, it has evolved into one of the most well known women's organizations in the nation and may be considered a cornerstone of the American Black Upper Class. The objectives of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated are to “create a medium of contact for children which will stimulate growth and development and provide children constructive educational, cultural, civic, health, recreational and social programs.” Since 1938 the organization continues on, dedicating its resources to improving the quality of life, particularly for all African-American children.
Founded in 1938, Jack and Jill grew out of the community work of 20 upper-class African American women in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who wanted their children to have cultural opportunities, develop leadership skills, and form social networks in the extremely segregated society of the time. Jack and Jill also publishes a national journal.
Mothers of children between the ages of 2 and 19 hold the membership and are required to plan and host monthly activities for the children, who are the focus of the program. Children are divided into age groups (2-5, 6-9, 9-12, 12-14, and 9th through 12th grade) and take part in cultural activities, fundraising, leadership training, legislative events and social events such as ski trips, pizza parties, cotillions, as well as college planning, theater trips and conferences, to name a few. Mothers attend required monthly meetings and act on committees focused on the work of the organization, as well as larger efforts aimed to better the conditions of all children, not just their own. Annual dues, mandatory philanthropic assessments and extensive children's activities usually result in annual costs of several hundred dollars to each member.
Mothers have to be invited into the group. Members are usually professional women who are teachers, doctors, professors, lawyers, businesswomen, or are married to similarly educated individuals. Each chapter may decide on its own selection process; some include a prospective member and her family to participate as guests prior to being voted upon by the membership. Chapters may also, at their own discretion and often when the chapter has become too large, close their membership intake during a given year; and do not entertain prospective members.
Graduating teenagers are celebrated and honored at the annual Regional Teen Conferences during an event where they are introduced to the other families in the membership and their guests, announce their college choice and are welcomed into the adult "village". Children who graduate out of the program are granted legacy status and may automatically join when they have children of their own.
The organization is divided into seven regions, which operate to support the chapters around the country. Today, there are around 218 chapters across the United States and the world, and about 30,000 parents and children who participate.
Jack and Jill of America celebrated its 75th anniversary in Philadelphia, PA in 2012 during the 40th National Convention.
Since Jack and Jill of America, Inc. was founded in 1938 it has evolved into a national organization as a result of strong programming.The founder, Marion Stubbs Thomas had an idea of bringing together children in social and cultural relationships and this idea avalanched into a strong national organization. As new members were welcomed and then new chapters formed the aims and ideals of Jack and Jill were strengthened, always with children as the focal point. National President Tara Joseph-Labrie has a new vision: “Achieving excellence, Inspiring greatness and Motivating youth to lead and serve.”
The organization supports the following national programs:
National Service Project: The Thompson Family – The Thompson quintuplets were born May 8, 1997 and are the beneficiaries of a National Service Project since 1998. Jack and Jill of America made the commitment to assist the children until they are adults. The family resides in Washington, DC. With the financial support of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. and the Jack and Jill of America Foundation the quintuplets continue to benefit from the compassionate service and relationship with Jack and Jill of America, Inc. The National Program Director serves as the Liaison to the Thompson Family. Jack and Jill continues to support the Thompson quintuplets.
National Youth Service Recognition – Community service is the hallmark of a servant leader and is the underpinning of the Jack and Jill of America philosophy of leadership development. For this reason, Jack and Jill youth across the country that complete at least 25 hours of community service receive certificates of recognition. Jack and Jill is also proud to have established a National Day of Service held each January to make a difference in the community. In addition, regional community service projects under the leadership of the Member-at-Large (MAL) elected officers for each region are held in conjunction with seven regional Teen Leadership Conferences held each year. The National Program Director serves as the Liaison to the MALs. Jack and Jill of America will continue to be an organization that serves the community through its efforts and that of the Jack and Jill of America Foundation. Likewise, we will continue to train our children to be servant leaders.
National Legislative Advocacy – Jack and Jill of America has long recognized that in order to maintain a level playing field, it is critical that we have the freedom to speak in support or opposition of policies/practices, especially those that do not seem to yield fair and equitable outcomes and having disproportionate impact on any segment of the population. Under the leadership of the National President and National Legislative Committee, Jack and Jill organized the first “On The Hill Summit” in Washington DC in 2009. In 2010, Jack and Jill launched the first ever Jack and Jill Day at the State Capitol initiative across the country. With one voice, mothers of Jack and Jill of America will continue to let our voices be heard on behalf of children through an active legislative advocacy agenda.
The following are annual chapter programming.
Carole Robertson Day (September) Carole Robertson Day is in memory of Carole who was a member of a teen group in Birmingham, AL. She was killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing on September 15, 1963. At our National Convention in San Francisco, it was decided by resolution that all chapters would honor her in September with an activity that would highlight the goals of human rights, civil rights, racial harmony that Carole did not live to enjoy. She was 14 years of age at her death and she was at the church preparing to march with other youth that day for civil rights. Her mother was the regional director for the Southeastern region.
Jack and Jill Day (September) Jack and Jill Day began in 1948 under the direction of Dorothy Wright our first National President, the concept was that this day would be our family round-up time. Chapters are required to have a family activity in September that brings all of the membership together after the summer break. It is a time to also invite families that are interested in joining the organization. It focuses on the programmatic thrusts of social and recreational. However many chapters have incorporated cultural/heritage as part of the day. The focus is to promote the membership growth of the organization at an event that promotes what the organization is all about.
National Black Family Day (May) National Black Family Day came about in May 1987 when William Gray III, Congressman from Pennsylvania, spoke with conviction when he entered a tribute to JJOA into the Congressional Record on May 5, 1987 as the organization embarked upon a Black Family Day of Celebration. Activities were to focus on the needs of children worldwide with special attention to the needs of children in Africa through our partnership with Africare. Over time we have broadened our scope to focus on aspects of family and the cultural heritage of families for African Americans. Activities are planned around the family. Activities should promote the solidarity of the family by with events such as: family dinners, family worship, family communication, workshops, community service to children without families or support non-traditional families such as foster care homes, workshops on the need for black adoptions etc. Many chapters made their city governments aware of their projects and that resulted in many chapters receiving proclamations from their city or county government. Congressmen had the chapters placed in their state records for their efforts to support and strengthen black families in their areas.
Rebuild America 
Jack and Jill of America, Inc. has a community service project designed to call attention to the current global state of the human habitat and push toward adequate housing for all.
The Rebuild America project is from the idea of Immediate Past Member-At-Large Faye Jacobs of the Mid-Atlantic Region. Member-At-Large Jacobs presented the idea to Immediate Past National President Jacqueline Moore Bowles in 2008. The National Executive Board under the Bowles’ leadership supported the idea and worked with our elected regional Members -At -Large to move forward with the development of the project.
The initiative was launched and introduced at the 2009 Jack and Jill Regional Conferences, Workdays and Clusters across seven geographical regions. The goals that were set for the initiative included raising one million dollars in two years, and building ten homes across the country.
The organization has established a partnership with the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, and will sponsor the first Habitat home in the spring of 2011. The house dedication ceremony was held on Saturday March 12, 2011, during the AIM to Serve and Celebrate Weekend in New Orleans. Jack and Jill Rebuilds Committee also hosted a fundraiser for the Jack and Jill Rebuilds, and Jack and Jill of America Foundation on the evening of the house dedication ceremony.
Jack and Jill of America Foundation 
Jack and Jill of America Foundation, Inc. is the philanthropic arm of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Since its inception in 1968, the Foundation has distributed millions of dollars to communities all across America.
In so doing, the Foundation is fulfilling its shared vision with Jack and Jill of America, Inc., to invest in the future of children. The Foundation supports programs that not only create opportunities and challenges for children to learn and practice leadership skills, but also build leadership character in youth. The ultimate goal of every Foundation grant dollar is to empower young people to make the right life choices.
Programs funded by the Foundation are improving academic test scores, raising literacy and mathematical competencies, encouraging cultural consciousness, and instilling moral and social responsibility in America’s youth.
The Foundation’s activities match the stated philanthropic interests of the Jack and Jill of America membership.The Foundation’s giving is directed to chapters, organizations and communities.
Legacy Membership 
Legacy status is granted to a child who graduates from a Jack and Jill Chapter and whose mother is a member in good standing at the time of the graduation. The female child or spouse of a male child is entitled to automatically become a member upon submission of an application and payment as long as they have a child at least 2 years old at the time of installation. The following requirements apply: • Legacies may attain membership through this process only once. If legacy status was granted to the first spouse of a male child, any subsequent spouse must seek membership as a new member. • Legacies are oriented and initiated with other incoming members. • Members who do not fulfill the obligations of membership are subject to the same process of membership termination outlined in bylaws.
New members joining through legacy status shall be in addition to chapter quota and initiated yearly. Terminated members may not reapply for membership under legacy status. A mother who has completed her tenure in good standing and wants become a member again is entitled to automatically become a member of the chapter where she is presently living upon submission of an application and payment. The one-time National Headquarters Fee shall not be due upon rejoining the organization. In the event of the member’s death, her children may continue their affiliation with the organization if the parent or guardian so desires. The deceased member shall be classified as having completed her tenure in good standing thereby granting legacy status to her children.
- Graham (2000), p.22
- Appiah et al. (1999), p.455
- Appiah, Anthony (1999). Africana. New York: Basic Civitas Books. ISBN 0-465-00071-1.
- Graham, Lawrence (2000). Our Kind of People. New York: Perennial. ISBN 0-06-098438-4.