Our History

The Junior League of Columbus was founded in 1923. From its original 11 founding members, led by our first JLC President, Mrs. Rolland M. Edmonds, the Junior League of Columbus has grown to nearly 500+ members today. Since 1923, the Junior League of Columbus has been actively improving our community and training volunteers who make a difference in the lives of others.

Junior League of Columbus Legacy of Community Impact

Did you know the JLC has provided more than 95 years of community service in Central Ohio?

Since its establishment in 1923, the Junior League of Columbus has:

1926 – Embarked on its first project by hiring an occupational therapist to equip members to teach patients at Children’s and Grant hospitals and the Third Street School of Crippled Children basket weaving, rug hooking and leather tooling skills.
1926 – Initiated children’s theater production fundraisers, which later become the Community Junior Theater.

1927 – Hosted the first department store fundraiser, Junior League Day at Z.L. White Co., where members gave a fashion show and worked as sales clerks.

1931 – Initiated the Columbus-At-Work campaign in which members went door-to-door soliciting work for those who had become unemployed during the depression.

1934 – Formed a Glee Club and a Scribbler’s Club as a means of self-expression for members.

1936 – Organized the Central Volunteer Service Bureau, the basis for today’s FIRSTLINKThe community volunteer service bureau trained, placed and supervised all those in the city of Columbus who devoted their time to volunteering.

1937 – Expanded its children’s theater to a trouping group that gave approximately 30 performances annually at various schools.

1942 – Launched the Columbus Victory Corner, a League committee that sold War Savings Stamps and Bonds to support the war effort.
1943 – Donated $2,350 to the American Red Cross to purchase a Mobile Blood Donor Unit.
1943 – Established a War Emergency Committee to coordinate blood drives, rationing promotions, clothing drives, and a victory parade.
1944 – Started Community Junior Theater.
1945 – Sponsored the children’s series, “Books Bring Adventure,” on WOSU radio.
1949 – On September 22-23, the Junior League kicked off the first Bargain Box fundraiser. This thrift shop at Memorial Hall netted $8,254 its first year. 

1950 – Founded the Children’s Mental Health Center and financed a major portion of the center with a $72,600 grant while also providing volunteers over a 10-year period.
1955 – Donated $12,200 to Children’s Hospital to equip a surgical room for tonsillectomies.
1958 – Introduced a new fundraiser, the Sheram Puppet Project, to expand the imagination of school children, hospitalized youngsters, and children with physical disabilities.

1962 – Donated $4,000 to establish the Arts Council.
1963 – Gave $16,000 to purchase the Transparent Talking Woman, an educational display at COSI.
1963 – Gave $36,000 to the Family-Centered Program of the United Community Council and affiliated agencies.
1965 – Began a $5,000annual, three-year donation to establish the Columbus Area Information Center, known today as CRIS.
1969 – Donated $30,000 to launch the Blackburn Day Care and Training Program for needy families.

1971 – Gave $10,000 to COSI for a Life Science Drug Education Exhibition.
1972 – Contributed $4,000 to the Community Coordinated Child Care “4-C” program, now known as Action for Children, a childcare advocacy, resource and referral agency.
1976 – Acquired the Kelton House and accompanying properties and made commitments for restoration and fundraising through the help of The Columbus Foundation.
1977 – Donated $9,377 to develop architectural guidelines for the Town-Franklin area, a downtown neighborhood.
1977 – Gave $27,200 to the Hilltop Youth Advocacy Program.

1979 – Open the doors to the Kelton House Museum & Garden.

1981 – Developed OWJL (a summer enrichment program for gifted and talented junior high students) in conjunction with Ohio Wesleyan University. The JLC provided a $65,000 grant to Ohio Wesleyan University for this program.

1982 – The Junior League Community Awards Program was established to recognize outstanding women and their accomplishments in the community.
1983 – Provided a $15,000 grant to help to establish the Center for New Directions, a displaced homemaker program.
1985 – Produced Victorian Vignettes, a kid’s-eye view of Columbus’ past, to expand the Kelton House Museum’s education outreach program.
1987 – Gave $47,500 to the Center for New Directions for a Women and Widowhood program, targeting 24,000 area women.
1988 – Initiated P.A.R.T.Y. (Participate Actively in Reading Throughout the Year), a reading mentor program with Capital University.

1991 – Helped establish CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates) through financial and volunteer support.
1992 – Supported construction of a childcare room at Make Room Columbus family shelter and began offering ongoing events.
1993 – Completed the Silent Witness Exhibit, a traveling memorial to women and children murdered through acts of domestic violence.
1996 – Began offering math tutoring and activities to middle school students enrolled in Ohio Dominican College’s Village to Child program.
1998 – Launched the JUMP! program, a leadership development program for middle school girls.

2000 – Collaborated with the Valerie Still Foundation to offer HOOPS! This basketball clinic and tournament promotes girls’ self-esteem as well as leadership and teamwork skills through sports and supportive adult interaction.

2000 – Started JUMP! into Service, a graduate program for JUMP! into Leadership participants, focusing on community service.

2000 – Launched the ABC Adopt-a-Backpack program.

2002-Received the AJLI Organizational Development Award and Fund Development: For Preserving the Past, Building Excellence for the Future, the Capital Campaign for Kelton House

2002-AJLI/BMW Community Impact Merit Award:  Junior League of Columbus – JUMP! Program

2002-Opened the Underground Railroad Learning Station at the Kelton House Museum. Since its inception, over 60,000 school age children have visited the Learning Station.

2002– Donated $50,000 to the Center for Child and Family Advocacy. Junior League volunteers also provided childcare and over 2,000 busy bags for children visiting the Center, and assisted with the Kids in Court program.

2004– Received the AJLI Organizational Development Award: JL Branding Category: Marketing: For the JL of Columbus Branding Campaign

2004– Partnered with the Educational Council’s LEADER Institute to create “Junior Leaders”, a leadership development program for 6th and 7th-grade girls.

2006– Launched Kids in the Kitchen, a series of programs that focus on healthy eating and reducing childhood obesity.

2007– Approximately 3,700 children received backpacks from the Adopt A Backpack project.

2017 – Completed renovations of the English House with assistance from the Columbus Foundation.

2018 – Adopted Foster Care, specifically the population aging out of Foster Care, as the new issue-based area of focus for the League.

2018 – Sunset our 70-year long Bargain Box project.