Our History

Since its beginning in 1926, the Junior League has set its sights on the Richmond community, and its commitment to children and families has remained steadfast. The volunteer spirit is what the Junior League is all about. Trained by the League and on the job, volunteers give their time and talents to help others in need…without pay, but not without rewards.

Every moment shared in the spirit of community is both priceless and timeless. Seeing Richmond’s families grow in strength and in confidence is our ultimate reward… one that has come back to each volunteer in countless ways.

Come take a glimpse at our past and see opportunities for the future.


Junior League of Richmond Founded

Fifty-nine young women, committed to finding workable solutions to the problems confronting their community, established the Junior League of Richmond (JLR), an organized volunteer service for women. The young pioneers concentrated their efforts on initiating programs for children and supporting community organizations in need. The group was recognized for its achievements and admitted into the Association of Junior Leagues of America in 1927.

Memorial Child Guidance Clinic Therapeutic Workshop was founded as the first of its kind in the country to provide constructive art, music, and carpentry classes for children with behavioral problems.

League Motor Corps was formed to transport clinic patients and caseworkers from Associated Charities, the Family Service Society, and the American Red Cross.

Receiving Home of the Children’s Home Society became a central obligation for which the League assumed complete financial responsibility and management.

Community Agency Support included the Crippled Children’s Hospital and the Commission for the Blind.


The economic and social upheaval of the Great Depression created an unprecedented need for services. The Junior League endeavored to help fund and support a variety of community organizations. We also became increasingly involved in community and legislative affairs. Our volunteers continued to initiate innovative programs that focused on the welfare of Richmond’s children.

Mother’s Aid Bill was passed in State Legislature.

Immunology Clinic at MCV was founded for the prevention and treatment of disease. League volunteers assumed full responsibility for oversight of the clinic.

Well-Baby Clinic at MCV, founded in response to the high rate of infant deaths occurring in Virginia, was intended for the prevention of disease and preservation of health in the infant and child.

Community Agency Support included the Pre-Natal Clinic of the Instructive Visiting Nurses Association (IVNA), the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) Health Clinic, William Byrd Community House, and the Richmond Tuberculosis Association.


World War II brought a new sense of patriotism and community spirit to League members, resulting in significant contributions to the war effort. As well, the Junior League continued to strengthen its commitment to the needs of local citizens, children, and community organizations.

Volunteer Service Bureau was founded to act as a liaison between Richmond agencies needing volunteers and people seeking volunteer opportunities.

Officer’s Service Club and Victory Exchange were established.

Books Bring Adventure Children’s Radio Broadcast Series was produced, receiving high accolades form schools, libraries, and Boards of Education.

Child Welfare Bill was passed in State Legislature.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Community Arts Program was created to assist the Museum in its expansion efforts. The Junior League also reorganized the Children’s Theater of Richmond, bringing an acclaimed performance series to area children.

Speech Clinic and School at MCV was founded to offer instruction to speech and hearing-impaired children.


The Junior League saw tremendous growth in the 1950s. The Baby Boom at the end of World War II produced an enormous need for schools, teachers, and programs for gifted and challenged children. Radio and television development helped bring League contributions in the area to the public’s attention. We performed extensive research to identify unmet needs in the community and initiate invigorating, new projects.

Speech Clinic and School at MCV conducted speech and hearing surveys citywide, reaching over 14,500 children.

The Forgotten Five Percent, a dramatic color film, was produced to address the needs of speech and hearing impaired children.

Child Welfare TV Series was produced in collaboration with Richmond Educational Television to promote child welfare needs. League-sponsored programs included Junior League Presents (1957) and Points of Youth (1958).

Senior Center of Richmond was founded to provide social and recreational programs for senior citizens five days a week in various disciplines.


Events of the 1960s forced new definitions of freedom and democracy, pushed the frontiers of science and space, and eventually forged an uneasy acceptance of fundamental new realities in politics, race and sex. As society wrestled with this rapid change in attitude and its expression, the Junior League responded to local needs by extending its reach into the community with twenty-seven placements for volunteers. We gave aid to numerous agencies, stimulated interest in mental health issues, and expanded cultural offerings for Richmond’s children.

Art History Lecture Program was created in cooperation with Richmond City Public School Art Department to teach art history classes, reaching over 2,000 Richmond children each year. Classes were designed to explore the relationship between a child’s environment and his or her own perceptions and appreciation of the world of art.

Mental Health Forum was presented with area professionals to heighten public awareness of the need for mental health services in Richmond.

Valentine Museum Junior Center was founded to provide a program of exhibits, tours, lectures, workshops, and field trips related to school curricula for Richmond children.

Community Agency Support included the Cerebral Palsy Workshop, Pre-School Nursery for retarded Children, the Deaf School, Virginia League for Planned Parenthood, Richmond Public Library, the Hand Workshop, the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission and Educational Television.


Along with the cultural upheaval brought on by the Vietnam War, the feminist movement, the drug revolution, and school desegregation came the dawning of a new age in our society. The Junior League responded with cutting-edge initiatives.

Drug Scene, a Richmond Times-Dispatch supplement, was published to educate the public about the critical problem of drug abuse, particularly in adolescents.

Learning Disabilities Council was founded.

Project LEAP was founded as the Language Education Assistance Program (LEAP), a three-year pilot project with Richmond Public Schools, to address the needs of children with learning disabilities.

Learning Disabilities Information Service was established.

Discovery Room of the Science Museum of Virginia was founded to offer hands-on, educational experiences for children.

Family Crisis Shelter was founded as one of the few models in the United States to offer a safe haven and counsel to families in abusive situations.

For Children’s Sake Conference was jointly sponsored to raise community
awareness of children’s issues, to assist the cooperative efforts of volunteers and professionals in child-related services, and to produce avenues for involvement in advocacy for children.

Greater Richmond Child Advocacy Office was founded. The State Public Affairs Committee (SPAC) formed a Coalition on Juvenile Justice to work for the revision of the juvenile code and obtained passage of the Delinquency Prevention and Youth Development Act in Congress.

Youth Gallery at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was founded, featuring interactive exhibits that explored art through sight and touch for children and people with disabilities.

Sunrise Program was initiated as an alcohol education program for preadolescent children.


For the Junior League of Richmond, the 1980s was a decade of raised public consciousness. The League continued its advocacy and education efforts in the areas of child abuse, juvenile justice, and substance abuse. We hosted conferences and introduced new placements and programs that addressed the needs of area children and promoted community involvement.

Parenting, A Community Concern Conference promoted the need for better parent and family life education programs in Richmond schools. Cosponsored with Virginia Department of Welfare and Bureau of Child Protective Services.

Comparative Guide to Richmond Area Nursing Homes was published.

Franklin Street Revitalization Project was initiated.

Corporate Volunteer Council was formed to educate on corporate voluntarism and expand Richmond’s volunteer work force. Area Conference cosponsored with the Metro Chamber of Commerce and the United Way.

Maymont Children’s Farm was funded and staffed to develop new educational programs. League volunteers conducted tours for school children and provided volunteer assistance throughout the park.

Together for Children Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect hosted over 900 delegates and 150 speakers at this three-day event to unite all sectors of the community in prevention services. Cosponsored with Virginia Department of Social Services.

Volunteer Opportunities Fair promoted volunteer opportunities for fifty-four agencies with over 800 attendants.

Violence on View Conference was sponsored to educate the public on the issue of violence in the media. The conference led to the formation of a Coalition on Violence to support legislation that addressed this concern.

Survival Skills for Children was published.

Community Agency Support included the Women’s Resource Center, Daily Planet Street Center, Oasis House, Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN), Parents Anonymous, Friendly Visitors, Virginia Voice, Women’s Advocacy Program, YWCA, Adapts, Richmond Reception and Diagnostic Center, Children’s Museum of Richmond, MCV, Virginia Opera Association, Literacy Council of Metro Richmond, Parents’ Council of Richmond, Virginia Treatment Center, Theatre IV, Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond on the James and Chesapeake Bay Foundation.


After extensive study of pressing community needs, the membership determined that Richmond’s children and families could best be served through educational programs related to parenting and literacy and initiated several major projects that continue to serve the community today.

Babies, Benefits and the Bottom Line Conference on Parenting was cosponsored with SCAN.

Sacred Heart Center founded and supported by a League funded and developed Family Resource Program that offered adult GED education, parenting support and daycare to low income families in the Bainbridge and Blackwell communities. Community Impact Award received.

Mom’s First, a hospital visitation and mentoring program for young mothers, was initiated at MCV Clinic and later expanded to other community centers. Coalition of 100 Black Women Award given.

Literacy Council of Metro Richmond (READ Center) was provided volunteer support and funded over $195,000 during a five-year period to promote literacy in Richmond. Jeannie P. Baliles Award for Outstanding Literacy Support Group received

Metropolitan Literacy Foundation was assisted in the development of the “Family Literacy Initiative” in four target Richmond Public Schools.

“Don’t Wait to Vaccinate” Campaign promoted early immunization for children through a week of television and radio interviews in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Health. Childhood Immunization Week (April 21-27) declared through Governor’s Proclamation.

Family Focus-A Resource Directory for Families of Young Children was published in collaboration with the United Way.

Community Outreach Programs included the Safe Haven Program, Red Cross Babysitting Training, the Network of Family Resources and Referral Services Task Force, and the Children’s Museum of Richmond Workshops.


Recognizing that today’s children are tomorrow’s families, the League continued to develop and deliver child-centered programs that promoted parental involvement and fostered healthy families. Through its innovative outreach programs that met the constantly changing and ever growing needs of this community, the Junior League of Richmond worked wonders in the lives of Richmond families.

Wonders on Wheels (WOW), launched in the fall of 2000 with Richmond Public Schools, delivered an after-school enrichment program to elementary school children and their parents via the WOW activity bus. Designed to foster a child’s love of learning and enhance self-esteem, the WOW curriculum explored Standards of Learning topics through art, drama, sports, writing and construction. Parents played a crucial role as they became strong advocates and partners in their child’s education. Partners included: YMCA Bright Beginnings, Communities-in-Schools, Virginia One-to-One, and the staff at A.V. Norrell and Elizabeth D. Redd Elementary Schools. Sacred Heart Center enrichment programs, including Families First and the Children’s Resource Program, continue to offer special programs and services for children and parents.

Red Cross Babysitting Training Program certified volunteers as instructors in the acclaimed life-saving course. The League then provided training workshops to “latchkey” children responsible for supervising younger siblings.

Children’s Museum of Richmond Partnership continues today through the support of League volunteers who take the Museum’s child/parent creativity programs to families in under-served neighborhoods across the city.


Community Outreach Programs provide volunteer support to other nonprofit organizations in projects targeting the needs of children and families.


Junior League of Richmond elected its 1st African American president, Monica Brinkley Davis, after 88 years.


Junior League of Richmond voted to change its community focus area to women helping women and girls within the greater Richmond community.