A History Moment

A little Jack and Jill of America, Inc Trivia

Do you know?


Who named our organization Jack and Jill?
Answer:  Bernice Dutrieuille Shelton (Elected Secretary of the Founding Mothers)

What were the dues at the first Jack and Jill meeting?
Answer: $.25 (Yes, 25 cents)

Where the Jack and Jill meetings were held?
Answer: The Historical Southwest-Belmont YWCA (annual membership fee $1.00)

Twenty years following the incorporation of Jack and Jill of America, the philanthropic arm of the organization was born: Jack and Jill of America Foundation.

The need to establish a foundation grew out of the work that had been occurring throughout the organization. The national organization adopted many outside entities and supported various charitable causes. Many of the National Projects that were supported in the 1960s remain a part of our fiber today. Some of the projects were:

  • Research for Rheumatic Fever
  • National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis (March of Dimes)
  • Mental Health
  • NAACP-Legal Defense Fund

    As stated in Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated Into the Millennium;” As worthy as their intentions were, the members did not believe that their efforts were equitably reciprocated.  As innovative leaders and concerned mothers, they needed to be able to measure and evaluate the fruits of their labor. Further, they wanted the assurance that equitable benefits were made available to African-American children.”

    The financial contributions to charities by members of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. were significant, but the only recognition came in the form of plaques and certificates; not in the boardroom.  This lack of a voice at the table propelled members to act on their frustration.  At the 1964 National Convention, it was approved that a study be conducted to determine the needs of a philanthropic arm of Jack and Jill of America, Inc.

    During the 1966 National Convention, the delegation authorized a “not-for-profit” corporation to be created as a medium through which the Jack and Jill of America, Inc. membership could fulfill its desire to erase basic social ills…

    The Articles of Incorporation were signed in February of 1968.  The first officers and Board of Directors were:

    President: Jacqueline Robinson
    Secretary/Treasurer: Violet Greer
    Directors: Eleanor DeLoache Brown, Muriel Spalding, Barbara Tillmon, Margaret Simms, Barbara Howard, Aurelia James, Lydia Pride

    It is important to note that in the first historic chronicle of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Work, Play, Commitment: the First Fifty Years research by Nellie Roulhac stated:” To our knowledge, Jack and Jill of America, Inc. is the first known national Negro organization that has assumed the activist role through a foundation in affecting social change.”

    Today the Jack and Jill of America Foundation is known as Jack and Jill Foundation, but the priorities remain very much the same: “improving the lives of African American children, making a difference in the areas that can significantly shift their outcomes in life. And supporting services, programs and organizations that focus on impacting root causes of social problems affecting African American children and families.”

    Jack and Jill of America Foundation Presidents

    1. 1968-1975  Jacqueline J. Robinson
    2. 1975-1978  Nellie Gordon Roulhac
    3. 1978-1985  Betty H. Johnson
    4. 1985-1996  Emma B. Benning
    5. 1996-1998  William Byrd
    6. 1998-2005  Ava Washington
    7. 2005-2009  Grace Speights, ESQ
    8. 2009-2011  Erik Cliette
    9. 2011-2013  Jacqueline Moore Bowles, Emeritus Member (21st National President)
    10. 2013-2015  Lucille Hadley
    11. 2015-Present  Shelley Brown Cooper


    *The story of the Southwest-Belmont YWCA

    catharine-st-ywca-copyThe Colored Women’s Christian Association petitioned the Young Women’s Christian Association (Y.W.C.A.), which was established in the same year, to join the “Y”. It was not until 1912 that the Colored Women’s organization became the Southwest branch of the Philadelphia YWCA. Southwest’s first facility was a house on 16th Street that became a residence within a Christian environment for young Black women. After vigorous fundraising by the women assisted by the Black churches and a $25,000 donation by Chicago philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, the women raised enough money to construct a fully functional YWCA on land donated by John Wanamaker at 1605 Catharine Street. The cornerstone of the 3-story brick building housing an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a gymnasium and an assortment of meeting rooms was laid in 1922. In 1934 the YWCA merged this branch with the Belmont Center in West Philadelphia creating Southwest Belmont YWCA.