JCI’s story begins with Henry Giessenbier Jr., a young man living in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, during a time of incredible growth and change. Giessenbier recognized the talents and passions of the young people around him, and envisioned the positive change they could create if they had the right resources. To provide these tools, in 1915 he founded the first JCI movement in the St. Louis area. What began as a local movement spread quickly, and with enthusiasm. Young people across the United States and then across the globe joined together to create positive forces in their communities on a local, national and international scale.
Giessenbier saw JCI as an organization that could harness the energy of young leaders to overcome a variety of civic challenges. JCI members would have the opportunity to develop as individuals, contribute to the prosperity of economic infrastructure through entrepreneurship, understand and appreciate the social dynamics that enable community problem-solving and promote goodwill, cooperation and understanding amongst all people. That enduring vision lives on through the organization today.
At its core, JCI is about bringing people together to understand the world’s biggest challenges and collaborate to create meaningful solutions. Over the past century, JCI has united members from more than 100 countries in active participation in their community and empowered them to become the leaders who will give rise to the next 100 years of sustainable impact.