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Jack and Jill History


Jack and Jill Inc. was founded January 24, 1938 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from a meeting of 20 mothers by the leadership of Marion Stubbs Thomas with the idea of bringing together children in a social and cultural environment. In 1964, as more groups became active, bylaws were drawn up and incorporated under the laws of Delaware. The organization was a nonprofit family organization by mothers of children between the ages of 2 and 19 holding membership. Jack & Jill celebrated its 50th Golden Anniversary in January 1988. The organization continues on, dedicating its resources to improving the quality of life, particularly African-American children.
In the first issue of Up the Hill, National Founder Marion Stubbs Thomas reflected on Jack and Jill’s first ten years.

"…When the first little group of us organized in January 1938, in Philadelphia, we were seeking to stimulate a social and cultural relationship between our children. When I contacted the mothers and suggested a meeting to discuss plans for (the) new club, they were all enthusiastic and responded in a manner, which was heartwarming. Little did we dream at the time that this idea, which was so important and inspiring, would grow to such proportions. As new members were welcomed, and then new chapters formed, the aims and ideals of Jack and Jill were strengthened, always with our children as the focal point. To us as mothers, it has become a means of furthering an inherent and natural desire – the desire to bestow upon our children all the opportunities possible for a normal and graceful approach to beautiful adulthood. It is intensely satisfying to predict a nationwide group of mothers and children bound together by similar interests and ideals. As we grow in numbers and achievements, may we always keep before us the lofty principles upon which Jack and Jill of America was founded."

After that rainy Friday night meeting in Philadelphia on January 24, 1938, the idea of those 20 mothers to bring together children in a social and cultural relationship spread first to New York City then to Washington, D.C. Thus, Jack and Jill became an inter-city association. Between 1944 and 1946, the group expanded to ten. On June 1, 1946, representatives of eight of the ten groups met in Philadelphia to consider organizing into a national organization. The purpose and aims were set forth, committees established, and new officers were elected and installed.

At the Second National Convention in Columbus, Ohio in 1947, five new Chapters were granted membership.

Up the Hill, the first official publication was published in May 1948. The Constitution and Bylaws were drawn up and set forth these objectives: to create a medium of contact for the children and to provide a constructive educational, recreational, and social program for the children and their parents

Jack and Jill of America was incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware on August 28, 1947. At the Third National Convention in Washington, D.C. in 1948, the observance of Jack and Jill Day by all Chapters was instituted; the National Meeting was extended to two days; and all past presidents were made members of the Advisory Council.

At the Fourth National Convention in New York in 1949, a Regional Committee was formed to study the needs of the National organization and to submit a plan for future operation. In June 1951, the Philadelphia mothers and teenagers invited the teenagers of other chapters within driving distance to Philadelphia to attend the first Regional Teen Conference. The second meeting of teenagers in the eastern Chapters was held in New York in 1952. The Teenage Committee on Regional Boundaries for Annual Teenage Conferences agreed that the boundaries should include these seven areas: Central, Eastern, Mid-Atlantic, Midwestern, South Central, Southeastern, and Southwestern. These were to be subject to change as the teenage population increased and more Chapters were added. (Currently, the seven Regional designations are: Central, Eastern, Far West, Mid-Atlantic, Midwestern, South Central, and Southeastern.)

The First Mothers’ Regional Conferences were held in 1959. Regional meetings, in accordance with the Revised Plan of 1957, were "…to allow fuller, closer participation by Chapters in all geographical areas, thus making for a stronger program." The Mothers’ Regional Conferences were to be held in June or July on alternate years with the National Conclave.

At the Fifteenth National Convention in Minneapolis in 1962, the Bylaws were amended to elect not more than one National Officer from a given Region. This was to permit equal representation of all Chapters on the Executive Committee, one from each of the seven Regions.

Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated was granted 501-C-4 tax exemption status by the Internal Revenue Service of the United States in 1964. The annual observance of Black Family day by all Chapters was instituted in 1986. For the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated in 1988, Jack and Jill father Samuel J. Brown III (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Chapter) was commissioned to write the Jack and Jill Hymn.

The organization’s National Emblem was officially registered as its trademark in 1993. The emblem was designed by Jack and Jill father Edward S. Richards (Chattanooga, Tennessee Chapter).

Since establishing its first national service project, "The Research for Rheumatic Fever," in 1947, Jack and Jill has contributed to an array of nonprofit organizations and causes including The Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which was designated the official

National Project form 1952 - 1957; the National Association of Mental Health; the NAACP Freedom Fund, Life Memberships, and Legal Defense; the Urban League; the United Negro College Fund, etc. At the 1956 National Convention in San Francisco, one of the recommendations of the National Service Project Committee that was adopted established a committee to study plans for a National Project that would be exclusively Jack and Jill and would have no affiliation with any other group, organization, or corporation. At the Seventeenth National Convention in 1966, the following resolution was passed:

"We resolve that within two years Jack and Jill establish a charitable foundation with the National Service Project assets, and that the Executive Committee be empowered to appoint the personnel of said foundation to delineate the scope and perform all the necessary acts to create the foundation."

Jack and Jill of America Foundation became a reality and was incorporated in 1968 in Chicago, Illinois.

Jack and Jill also has a long history of cooperative relationships with other organizations working to improve the quality of life for children, particularly Black children. Included among those organizations are the Children’s Defense Fund; the National Black Child Development Institute; A Better Chance; AFRICARE; the National Association of Black Organizations (NABO); and the National Alliance for Nonviolent Programming. Additionally, a Disaster Fund allows the organization to respond to Jack and Jill victims of natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, etc. The organization established a trust fund of $25,000 for the Thompson Family sextuplets.

At the 28th National Convention in Memphis, Tennessee in 1990, the delegates voted to raise the necessary revenue to purchase a site for the National Headquarters Building in the Washington, D.C. area. Funding for the purchase was to accrue from a one-time fee imposed on all existing members and on all new members upon entrance into the organization. A National Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia was purchased in 1994 and later sold in 1998. The National Office is located in Washington, D.C.

Jack and Jill of America, Inc. has a membership base of over 10,000 families and approaches its 75th Anniversary. Jack and Jill is the oldest and largest African American family organization in the United States. Jack and Jill of America, Inc. is committed to ensuring that all children have the same opportunities in life



The idea that Marion Stubbs Thomas espoused at the gathering of friends at the initial meeting concerning the development of a club that would bring their children together in a close social and cultural relationship was met with great enthusiasm. Because there were more children than a home could comfortably accommodate, the children met once a month at the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). It soon became necessary to plan specially for each gathering; therefore, the mothers deemed it wise to have a “Mothers” Meeting for this purpose. Such was the humble beginning in the East- Philadelphia.

1939-1940, 1944 (New York and Washington, D.C.)

The second Jack and Jill group to organize was the New York Chapter in 1939. The Washington, DC Chapter was started by Marguerite Green in March 1940. Four years later, the success of Jack and Jill programs in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York picked up momentum. The enthusiasm and interest in the concept of such an organization began to spread.

1944 (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Toki Schalk Johnson, presented to a group of Pittsburgh mothers the idea of forming a similar club. Marjorie Butler became Pittsburgh’s first president. Under her capable guidance began one of the most successful chapters of Jack and Jill.

1945 (Buffalo, New York)

Following the shadows of Pittsburgh, a group of mothers of Buffalo, New York were nurturing the same idea. The first group of prospective Jack and Jill members met in September 1945 to organize. The charter membership of twelve elected Edna Seay as their first Chapter President.


The Eastern Region tentacles were in a continuous growth pattern during this three year period with the chartering of chapters in Baltimore, Maryland and Boston, Massachusetts. A national organization committee was mobilized representing these seven Eastern Region chapters and three additional chapters in the Mid-Atlantic, Central and Mid-Western Regions. The committee met in Philadelphia on June, 1946 to make plans for bringing these groups together as one body.


The Eastern Region expansion had been phenomenal from the beginning and now Atlantic City, New Jersey and Springfield, Massachusetts were being added to the roster. Nathalie Johnson initiated the move to organize the North Jersey Chapter. The North Jersey Chapter officially joined the National Organization in June 1950. Because of the rural aspects of North Jersey, it was impossible to limit membership to a particular town; instead it was limited to a mileage radius.


The Eastern region resurfaced with the addition of the Lincoln University, Pennsylvania Chapter.

To Dorothy Wright of Philadelphia, the first National President, we owe our appreciation for guiding us through the difficult period of organization. Further, under the leadership of Emile Pickens of New York, Second National President, marked progress was made toward the realization of Jack and Jill objectives. Edna Seay of Buffalo, our Third National President served in the capacity of national officer since its inception and guided and directed the group wisely and efficiently to the place we assume in our communities today. The Eastern Region owes gratitude to Ida Murphy Smith of Baltimore for her high standards as Editor of the first edition of UP THE HILL; Helen Prattis of Pittsburgh and Vernice Wynn of Baltimore for the wonderful and difficult job they performed in the capacity of Secretary/Treasurer. It was necessary for all of the chapters to seek advice and grateful thanks were echoed for the guidance given by Sara Scott of Philadelphia, Program Chairman.

The idea of a regional plan for the National Organization was first advanced at the 3rd annual meeting of Jack and Jill of America Inc., held in Washington, D.C. in 1948. It was suggested that three regions (East, Midwest and West) be established to (1) shorten the travel time to annual meetings; (2) allow more time for discussions and (3) allow the inclusion of children at the meetings. For several years, a regional organizational plan was discussed during annual national conventions. These discussions were fueled by a hugely successful Teen regional conference organized and hosted by the Philadelphia Chapter in June 1951 around the year’s program year of study and research on Haiti.

At the 1957 National Convention held in San Francisco, the Regional Plan of the Organization was finally adopted and Regional Directors were appointed or elected. The first Regional meetings were held in 1959, and the decision was made to alternate years between the Regional and National conventions.

Hence, each is held every two years. Currently, the organization is divided into seven regions—Central, Eastern, Far West, Mid-Atlantic, Mid-Western, South Central and Southeastern. Each of the seven regions has four officers—Regional Director, Regional Treasurer, Regional Secretary, and Foundation Member-At-Large, who are responsible for providing continuity between the National Executive Board and the chapters in the respective regions. The Regional Officers are elected during the Biennial Regional Conferences, which convene on the odd numbered years following the National Convention.

Regional teen conferences are held annually. The first teen conference was held in Philadelphia, PA, in June 1951. Each Region has teen officers who are elected annually at the teen conferences.

Greetings from our President


Jack and Jill of America, Inc.-Eastern Region

History: Our Programs
History: History


Transforming African American Communities

Backed by 232 Jack and Jill of America, Inc. chapters, we are investing and positively impacting African American communities across the United States.

We began almost 50 years ago with a group of women, who believed in the power of philanthropy and the ability to have a voice in how contributions were spent. Since inception in 1968, we’ve invested millions of dollars in communities all across America.

Today we continue to grow our impact through our vision to transform African American communities, one child at a time.

As the philanthropic arm of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., Jack and Jill Foundation’s mission is to address issues affecting African American children and families, by investing in programs and services that create a strong foundation for children to thrive long-term.


We are changing our narrative from ‘charity’ to ‘investment’. The Foundation has adopted Impact Philanthropy as a framework for giving and will be investing in programs and services that create a strong foundation for children to thrive long-term. Our investments will demonstrate meaningful impact in communities throughout the United States.


Research shows that in order to promote meaningful impact in the lives of children and families, we must strengthen the family structure, environments and resources in which they live, learn and develop. Jack and Jill Foundation is setting the bar for high impact philanthropy in the African American community by increasing investments and maximizing the impact of our dollars.

We are committed to supporting services, programs and organizations that focus on impacting root causes of social problems affecting African American children and families.

Our investments will improve outcomes for core issues in the following three Philanthropic Focus Areas focused on improving key issues affecting African American children and families.


As of 2013, 67% of African American children raised in single parent homes, compared to 25% of whites and 42% of Hispanics. And, 36% of African American children (aged 0-17) live in food-insecure households compared with 15% white and 29% Hispanic.


The 47% national graduation rate for African American males is nearly 28% lower than for white males. Most schools with black majority enrollments do not have libraries, an adequate supply of textbooks and computers, art and music programs and science labs. There are also race gaps in the quality of experience in early education which is the foundation for school success.


Health disparities between African Americans and other racial and ethnic populations are striking and apparent in life expectancy, death rates, infant mortality, and other measures of health status and risk conditions and behaviors.

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