At its core, the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI) is a network of women devoted volunteer action and community leadership. The AJLI is organized into a confederation of local Junior Leagues operating at the local level and overseen at the international level by a 20-member board of directors tasked with developing goals for local Junior Leagues to implement. Funding comes entirely from membership dues and grants.
Although the organization still maintains certain connections to high society, as it did in its early years, the only requirements for membership are that applicants be female, at least 22 years old and committed to community service. The amount of volunteer work required varies depending on the local chapter, but on average, Junior Leaguers devote 5.3 hours per week to Junior League activities, and 80 percent are also involved in other volunteer work [source: AJLI]. Would-be members go through a trial period during which they receive provisional volunteer and leadership training. After being approved, provisional members become active members, devoting their time and skills to community enrichment. Sustaining members are senior members who pay dues and participate in certain Junior League functions but are no longer required to perform volunteer work as a prerequisite for continued membership.
So what type of women make up the Junior League? While there are no membership restrictions other than the ones mentioned above, the Junior League does tend to attract a certain type of person. Ninety-eight percent of league members attended college, nearly half have post-graduate degrees and the median household income for Junior League members is $161,800. [source: AJLI]. Junior Leaguers also tend to have some special personality qualities. According to the GfK Group, a market research company, a little more than 40 percent of Junior Leaguers belong to a demographic called Roper Influentials. Roper Influentials tend to be energetic, affluent, married women whose opinions have an unusually powerful impact on their peers' shopping habits and political leanings. (Think thousands of Jackie Onassises.) Needless to say, they're highly sought after by advertisers.
How did the AJLI grow into such a powerful organization? Turn the page to find out about the history of the Junior League.