Our global organization of 200,000 young active citizens grew out of the vision of one St. Louisan more than 90 years ago as a constructive approach to civic problems. Founded in 1915 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA by Henry Giessenbier, the movement spread, and Junior Chamber International was founded with eight other countries in 1944.
The Young Men's Progressive Civic Association (YMPCA) was formed on October 13, 1915.
The YMPCA grew to membership of 750 in less than five months.
1916 saw a name change, with the YMPCA becoming the 'Junior Citizens', colloquially 'JCs' or 'Jaycees'. The St. Louis Junior Chamber of Commerce asked them to adopt the name 'Junior Chamber of Commerce', which was done.
In 1923 the Winnipeg Junior Chamber was formed. The unofficial motto of the Winnipeg Junior Chamber, the first in Canada, has long been "We put the I, in JCI". Other Canadian chapters soon followed.
On May 14, 1925 Lincoln Junior Chamber JCI UK was formed. A Birmingham branch was formed in 1927, followed the same year by a Sheffield branch and by a Nottingham branch in early 1928.
A meeting took place in Mexico City in December 1944 which was billed as an Inter-America Meeting at which representatives of the U.S.A. and seven Latin American countries attended and it was at this meeting that the decision to form Junior Chamber International (JCI) was taken. It was resolved to hold a further meeting in Panama City in 1946.
In 1944, the first international conference was held in Mexico City. Raul Garcia Vidal of Mexico was elected JCI's first President. The countries that originally formed JCI were Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and the United States of America.
Singapore first heard of the Junior Chamber movement at a Rotary Luncheon at Adelphi Hotel in October 1949. The then JCI Vice-President for Asia, Gregario M. Feliciano, was describing in moving terms a civic organization which was capturing the minds and hearts of young men around the world. The meeting heard that the Junior Chamber had been established in Manila, Philippines on December 20,1947 with an initial membership of 18 members. On September 3, 1949, a second Asian Chapter was established, this time in Japan.
Covering the luncheon was a reporter from “Malaya Tribune”, Ted Goh Tuck Chiang, who with other non-Rotarians further queried Feliciano on the aims and objectives of Junior Chamber. Feliciano told them that Junior Chamber could inculcate civic consciousness among its members through active participation in constructive projects designed to improve the community, the nation and the world. Ted and the others were so inspired by Feliciano that they held a discussion on their own at Washington Cafe, Bras Basah junction of North Bridge Road. These inspired young men then went round, recruiting like-minder young people. They went more for executives rather than “junior” executives because they needed not only organizational ability but also members who could subsidize the projects that they would be implementing. Their hard work culminated in the forming of the Singapore Junior Chamber of Commerce on December 8, 1949. The 30 or so young men gathered together to elect Ted Goh as the first President of the Singapore Junior Chamber of Commerce.