US Jaycees

The Vision of the United States Junior Chamber:
To be the leading global network of active young citizens.

The Mission of the United States Junior Chamber:
To provide development opportunities that empower young people to create positive change.

The Values of the United States Junior Chamber, or our Creed:

We believe
that faith in God gives meaning and purpose to human life,
that the brotherhood of man transcends the sovereignty of nations,
that economic justice can best be won by free men through free enterprise,
that government should be of laws rather than of men,
that earth’s great treasure lies in human personality,
and that service to humanity is the best work of life.

Henry Giessenbier founded the Jaycees in 1920 with 3,000 members in St. Louis, Missouri. It was Henry’s vision to provide young people with opportunities which they had little or no access to otherwise attain. He believed that young people could change the world. He was right.

In his era, most young men were out of school and working by the age of 15. Their first jobs were most likely the jobs they held throughout their lives. With luck and hard work, some might reach executive positions by their forties. Giessenbier felt that young men were not receiving the opportunities necessary to develop their skills at a younger age, thus depriving our nation of an important resource, and so he formed the founding ideals of the U.S. Junior Chamber.

His theory was simple –offer leadership opportunities to young people, giving them hands-on experience through serving the community. That concept has never wavered.

Here are some milestones in our proud history. More history can be found on www.usjayceefoundation.org.

1920s

  • 1920 – The United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (USJCC) was formed in St. Louis, Missouri, with 3,000 members.
  • 1923 – Get Out The Vote was the first Jaycee program to receive national endorsement.
  • 1925 – Beginning of national projects Know America First and Fire Prevention. Birth of EXPANSION, the first USJC national magazine.
  • 1926 – Development of aviation adopted as national project.
  • 1927 – Jaycee Charles A. Lindbergh made the first solo flight between New York and Paris. Jaycees worked with Lindbergh to develop the U.S. Air Mail Service.

1930s

  • 1931 – Distinguished Service Awards program established at the chapter level.
  • 1935 – Death of founder Henry Giessenbier.
  • 1936 – National Wildlife Federation established with guidance of USJC.
  • 1937 – Programs begun at state and national level to inform public of need for diagnosis and treatment of venereal disease.
  • 1938 – Future Magazine established. USJC name Ten Outstanding Young Men for the first time.
  • 1939 – Safety with Light campaign gained national attention as thousands of street lights were donated to communities by Jaycees.
  • The Jaycees campaign for an expansive national forest on the Minnesota-Canada border, leading to the eventual creation of Quetico Provincial Park in Canada and Superior National Forest in Minnesota.

1940s

  • 1940 – USJC endorsed the principle of a military draft.
  • 1944 – Junior Chamber International (JCI) formed at Pan American Congress in Mexico City.
  • 1946 – USJC established permanent headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Junior Golf program begun.
  • 1947 – Official approval of “Jaycee” as synonym of organization. Adoption of Jaycee Creed.
  • Jaycees lead national efforts to help war veterans adjust to civilian life.
  • Jaycees lead all national organizations in gathering scrap, selling war bonds and stamps, obtaining blood plasma, and generating services for soldiers during World War II.

1950s

  • 1951 – War Memorial Headquarters in Tulsa dedicated. At urging of Andy Mungenast, the reference to “Faith in God” was added to the Jaycee Creed.
  • 1953 – Jaycees sponsored stops on Professional Golfers’ Association tour for first time at Greensboro, North Carolina, and Hartford, Connecticut.
  • 1954 – First Outstanding Young Farmer and Junior Tennis programs held.
  • 1959 – Jaycees supported statehood for Alaska. Hawaii gained statehood the following year due to Jaycee efforts.
  • Jaycees are said to have contributed more time and money to build and improve local libraries than what was provided by the federal government.
  • Jaycees raise $300,000 to help finance the 1956 U.S. Olympic Team.
  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first US President to address an annual meeting of the Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1953. President Eisenhower had this to say,” Yours is one of the nation’s most distinguished and enterprising organizations. You are young and responsible people, with impressive careers and achievements already recorded to your credit…because you are both young and responsible, you know what is your greatest responsibility of all tomorrow the whole future of freedom.”

1960s

  • 1961 – First Governmental Affairs Leadership Seminar conducted.
  • 1962 – Jaycees urge adoption of Uniform Vehicle Code, with emphasis on state action resulting in adoption nationally.
  • 1963 – Clean Water Program launched to improve water quality in communities across America. Gun Safety/Shooting Education adopted as a national program.
  • 1964 – Project Concern adopted as International Relations activity. Program raised money and equipment for clinics providing medical care to Chinese refugees in Hong Kong.
  • 1965 – Jaycees presented first annual National Award of Distinction from National Clean Up-Paint Up-Fix Up Bureau.
  • 1966 – Name of organization officially changed to U.S. Jaycees.
  • In many communities not serviced by aircraft, Jaycees helped build landing strips for light planes.

1970s

  • 1970 – Do Something campaign sparked national interest in volunteerism. Jaycees’ cooperation with other service organizations resulted in the founding of the National Center for Voluntary Action.
  • 1971 – More than 3,000,000 volunteer hours were provided by Jaycees to help administer 7,000,000 doses of rubella measles vaccine.
  • 1972 – Jaycees undertook model Operation Identification program to combat burglaries and aid crime prevention efforts. Five million stickers were distributed nationally through Operation Red Ball to reduce fire fatalities. Bylaw change admitted 18-year-olds as regular members.
  • 1973 – The United States Jaycees’ Center for Improved Child Nutrition opened in Bloomington, Minnesota.
  • 1977 – Operation Threshold, a program dedicated to reducing alcohol abuse, reached more than 23 million Americans. Muscular Dystrophy Fund Raising adopted as national program.

1980s

  • 1980 – Daisy/U.S. Jaycees Gun Safety/Shooting Education program honored with National Safety Council Award for Youth Activities.
  • 1982 – Healthy American Fitness Leaders adopted as national program.
  • 1984 – Bylaw change admitted women as full and regular members. Sign Up America campaign collected 1.5 million signatures supporting America’s Olympic athletes.
  • 1985 – The U.S. Jaycees endorsed Campaign for Liberty to encourage public support for restoration of Statue of Liberty. St. Jude Fundraising adopted as national program.
  • 1986 – First woman honored by Congress of Ten Outstanding Young Americans.
  • 1987 – Bylaw change established membership age as 21 through 39.

1990s

  • 1990 – Name of organization officially changed back to The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce.
  • 1992 – National Wake Up America program urged communities to get involved in politics by coordinating voter registration campaigns, hosting debates, and embracing pertinent community issues. Jaycees responded to devastating hurricanes in the southeast with national support.
  • 1993 – GreenWorks! environmental education and community action program adopted by USJC. Jaycees Against Youth Smoking (JAYS) adopted as national program. Junior Chamber members were instrumental in bringing relief to the flood-stricken Midwest.
  • 1994 – Junior Chamber Mission Inn Foundation created to build a nationwide network of care facilities for children and adolescents affected by HIV/AIDS.
  • 1995 – The Jaycee Alliance was formed as a non-partisan, educational, grassroots governmental advocacy organization to give young Americans a voice in government. The Jaycee KidCare I.D. Program was organized to provide identification to aid in the recovery of missing children.
  • 1996 – The Jaycees Wake Up America Tour bus began a journey through the 48 contiguous states promoting programs and membership. Social Security Reform Town Hall Meetings program initiated.
  • 1997 – Junior Chamber Center for Entrepreneurship and Career Advancement begun – a program designed to train young entrepreneurs and improve local economies.
  • 1998 – Junior Chamber Center for Entrepreneurship and Career Advancement name changed to Junior Chamber Center for Business Advancement. Two new programs, National Business Network and Virtual Networking, added to encourage Junior Chamber members to business network via the Internet both nationally and internationally.
  • 1999 – JAYS program reintroduced as an educational program that informs children about the dangers of smoking. Value Investing and Career Advancement added to the Junior Chamber Center for Business Advancement.

2000s

  • 2000 – First female elected National President. Junior Chamber Center for Business Advancement develops web-based video seminar training.
  • 2001 – Name changes to The United States Junior Chamber
  • 2004 – Bylaw change established membership age as 18 through 40.

The U.S. Jaycees has adopted the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as its public policy platform, along with our international organization, Junior Chamber International. The MDGs are eight ambitious goals set by the United Nations to address some of the most pressing needs of the United States and the World. These include:

  1. Ending Poverty and Hunger
  2. Universal Education
  3. Gender Equality
  4. Child Health
  5. Maternal Health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases
  7. Environmental Sustainability
  8. Global Partnership

In achieving these goals, we will not only help ourselves, but will also make an IMPACT in the world.

The U.S. Junior Chamber boasts a long, proud heritage. Members later became Presidents of the United States, Politicians, Entertainers, and successful Business Entrepreneurs. Past Jaycee members include Presidents Clinton, Bush, Ford and Nixon, millionaire Howard Hughes, entertainer John Denver, 1988 Miss America winner Kaye Lani Rae Rafko-Wilson, and U.S. Senator Wendell Ford, among others.

For more insight on how the Junior Chamber has affected the lives of its members, the following book is recommended: A Legacy of Leadership, by John W. Clark, USJC Historian.

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