Activities & Projects

On Going Projects:

The Cinderella Ball, which is the major fundraiser of the organization, had its beginning in 1955. Jeannie Lee McDowell was crowned as the first “Miss Cinderella”. The idea to present our debutantes in cotillion form was the brainchild of member Betty Brown Robinson who was a Ballet Dance Instructor, owned, and operated Youngstown’s first Afro-American Dance Studio in her home. She choreographed the dance routine and the first practices were held in her studio. After her resignation, due to relocating to Columbus, the job of Choreographer was turned over to Marvel Flint, Theresa Wallace, and Georgia Smith who held this position for many years. Georgia Smith remained faithful until her death in 1991.

The proceeds from the Ball are designated to the JCL Scholarship and Education Program, which had its beginning in 1961. We have awarded Scholarships to outstanding minority students from our area local high schools totaling approximately $650,000.00. Our first Scholarship recipient was James Gaddis in 1961-62 and Dr. Vincent Gooden in 1962.

Our first annual Brunch was held in the summer of 1954. This is now our Annual Installation and Scholarship Brunch, done on a much larger scale, with a formal program, prominent speakers. Our scholarship recipients are presented publicly and a formal installation of our new officers is conducted. This has become another outstanding community event.

Part of our Scholarship and Education program has been our participation in the Youngstown Public Schools Adopt-A-School Program. The organization in this program provides a “wish list” of necessary items to the school to enhance the curriculum, such as televisions, VCR’s, other visual aids as well as special materials and supplies.

JCL held its first Public Annual Political Forum in 1988, presenting and interviewing candidates running for local offices as well as School Board Candidates. Most of the forums are held in local church fellowship halls.

Annual Children’s Christmas Parties for children are sponsored by the JCL where gifts, toys, fruit, as well as a visit from “Santa Claus” are provided. Most of the parties have been held in our local community centers for the young children. Members donate the gifts for the children and help the Program Committee who coordinates the activities.

Past Projects:

In the early 1960 and 1970’s Annual Spring Style Shows were held with the proceeds given to the Crippled Children’s Society now known as Easter Seals. JCL members were models wearing fashions from our local major women’s clothing stores. Professional guest models were the attraction such as Terri Springer, Marva Lewis, and Marquerite Bellefonte. In the mid 1980’s, the JCL sponsored a Style Show benefiting our Scholarship program featuring Kathy Bradley of Los Angeles, CA, an actress and national TV star featured on the “Price Is Right”. She was a local talent having grown up in Girard, OH.

Public Forums were held at Powers Auditorium featuring prominent speakers such as Lerone Bennett, Writer and Ed Bradley, National TV Newscaster. We also brought to Stambaugh Auditorium The Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. The above-mentioned projects were not money making projects but educational and cultural events designed to benefit our community.

Operation Up-Beat, a musical instrument program that was initiated into our public schools due to the decline of our inner city school marching bands. A proposal was written by to obtain funds from the Youngstown Foundation, additionally the city council who donated $50,000. Over 100 instruments were purchased and loaned to minority students. A Music Director was hired who went into the public schools and gave free instruction along with volunteer teachers from Youngstown State University Music Department. “Operation Up Beat Band” was formed and marched in parades as well as performed at public affairs. In 1989, when the program ended, the instruments were donated to the Youngstown Public Schools Music Department to be loaned to African-American students interested in participating in the Music Program.

The Jr. Civic League has been given citations and awards for outstanding contributions and volunteer service to our community by the Mahoning County Crippled Children/Adult Society, United Negro College Fund, Youngstown City Council, and John J. Buckley Award for outstanding efforts in the field of human relations in 1956 by the Roberts Deliberating Club and The Buckeye Review to name a few. The Junior Civic League is a life member of NAACP and have contributed thousands of dollars to charitable and cultural organizations over the years.

In recent years, The Junior Civic Leagues was honored at the 22nd Annual National Philanthropy Day on November 15, 2012 as Outstanding Civic Organization.

The Junior Civic League has come a long way since its inception in 1952. Transitioning from “stay at home” moms to working career women, who hold various positions in our community. We have also gone from hand written minutes and reports to typewritten and now computerized minutes and reports. Our own Web page, Facebook and Twitter account pages are now a reality. The Junior Civic League has existed over six decades as a civic organization in the Mahoning Valley. This tribute is to our founders…. A great legacy has been established.