NEW YORK, May 27, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The outstanding programs of eight Junior Leagues were awarded the highest honors during the 99th Annual Business Meeting of The Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI) on May 22, 2021. After a year unlike any other, these initiatives are shining examples of how Junior Leagues address the real needs of their communities by collaborating with key partners to take action. The AJLI Awards are given in areas ranging from community impact to fundraising to leadership development.
AJLI President Bett Williams, a member of the Junior League of Columbia, SC, said, “Amidst cancelled fundraisers and hours of Zoom meetings, Junior Leagues continued to respond to deep community needs. These awards honor Leagues helping their communities in new and innovative ways by providing resources that address basic human needs, literacy and education, and so much more.”
The 2021 AJLI Award Recipients are:
Community Impact Award: Junior League of Philadelphia
The Apple a Day Healthy Living initiative™ is a multitiered and multifaceted community initiative that creates positive impact on the health and wellness of adults and children in the Greater Philadelphia area. Now in its eighth year of operation, the program supplies both interactive and educational opportunities for the community, while increasing the region’s capacity to supply and distribute healthy food to families in need.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award: Junior League of Fort Smith
Since 2018, when their DEI Committee was created, the Junior League of Fort Smith, through their Rewriting Our Narrative initiative, has revamped policies and procedures to incorporate DEI within their culture, diversified their new member base by 20%, created a safe space for members to speak on their firsthand experiences with racism and discrimination, and issued a powerful commitment statement to publicly denounce racism.
Development Award: Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri
The inaugural C3KC fundraiser was presented by the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri in 2018, to convene men and women from all community sectors so that together, solutions to deeply entrenched and complex social issues could be found. The annual event has transformed the League’s fund development diversification strategy, opening doors to new funders and strategic partners, engaging 21st century League members, advancing the League mission, and in the process created a better Kansas City.
Innovation Award: Junior League of Montgomery
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Junior League of Montgomery’s 35-year-old College and Career Fair had to be entirely improvised and reimagined. Simply not having it was not an option, as it would affect students and families who rely on this community event to explore college and career possibilities, gather scholarship information, and discover financial aid opportunities. And so, the Virtual College and Career Fair was born. Adjusting to a virtual platform, though not ideal, still allowed the Junior League of Montgomery to grow their reach far beyond what they envisioned, as they realized they were able to impact more students and more families.
Leadership Development Award: Junior League of Wichita
To promote quality board service, the Junior League of Wichita created the Nonprofit Board Development Program, a series of board development and training opportunities. The program prepares League members, local nonprofits, and community members to serve as competent and impactful board members. The training ensures that participants will be able to contribute to developing and enhancing a board’s functionality, thereby making them more effective, and essentially, truly building a better community as they are deployed out into their local nonprofit ecosystem.
Membership Recruitment and Engagement Award: Junior League of Seattle
The provisional program of the Junior League of Seattle introduces new members to the League and paves the way for a successful League career. The program is instrumental in acclimating new members to the League’s values, mission, and vision through advising, curriculum & training, projects, building community and thoughtful recruitment. These efforts have led to a 90% retention rate for new members.
Marketing and Communications Award: Junior League of Fort Smith
During the summer of 2020, the Junior League of Fort Smith filmed a “day in the life” video aptly named Rewriting Our Narrative highlighting members of all backgrounds, ethnicities, professions, and skill sets. This video made a strong statement of how richly diverse they are as an organization – from ethnicity to sexual orientation to socioeconomic status. The video has reached over 16% of the population within the Fort Smith community.
Public Policy and Advocacy Award: Junior League of Birmingham
The Junior League of Birmingham lies three miles from I-20, dubbed “the sex trafficking superhighway.” League leaders recognized that women and children served by their programs were at greater risk for being targeted for sex trafficking, so they developed an Anti-Human Trafficking Program focused on raising awareness and municipal declaration, enabling and enforcement of state law, support of new legislation, and support of needed programming. The keystone of the League’s work to reduce victimization is by leveraging their role as a nonprofit leader and nonpartisan coalition builder to affect transformational change through advocacy and public policy. They are a recognized leader in the efforts to combat human trafficking in the state and are a desired partner and resource.
About The Junior League
Since its founding in 1901 by social activist Mary Harriman, The Junior League has evolved into one of the oldest, largest and most effective women’s organizations in the world, encompassing more than 125,000 women in over 295 Leagues in four countries. For more than 100 years, the mission of Junior Leagues has not wavered: to develop exceptionally qualified civic leaders who collaborate with community partners to identify a community’s most urgent needs and address them with meaningful and relevant programs and initiatives that not only improve lives, but also change the way people think. In 1921 the Leagues joined forces as an association, which is today known as The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc., in order to bolster their power and amplify their voice through shared knowledge and common causes.