Skip to main content

Simple & Modern JACL Membership Updates

By June 21, 2024July 8th, 2024No Comments

An explanation of the proposed Membership CBL Amendment in advance of next month’s National Convention

By Dominique Mashburn, vp for 1000 Club, Membership and Services, and Ashley Bucher, JACL membership manager

Convention is just around the corner, and we’re excited to see many of you next month in the City of Brotherly Love! We at the Membership Department are feeling hopeful that our CBL amendment, which the National Board moved at the April 27 board meeting, will pass at this year’s National Council.

The amendment has two focuses: 1) modernizing out-of-date policies that are no longer in use, and 2) resolving confusion around premium and life membership categories with inspiring new levels. This amendment is largely the same as the one we proposed last year and didn’t have time for at the National Council. Notable changes from last year are new names for premium categories, which we explain below.

For the first focus, one dated policy is that if you want to change your chapter, you need to write the executive director. In practice, that is not something people do, and it’s also not a great use of the executive director’s time. So, our update is to instead write the staff about changing your chapter.

Another area includes a restriction of one emailed Pacific Citizen newspaper per household. We believe all active members in a household — whether they’re part of a couple/family membership or student/youth — should be eligible to receive the P.C.

An additional policy says folks can only join as a National Associate (general member) if they’re not geographically close to a chapter. We believe anyone should be able to join as a National Associate for any reason — perhaps there is a chapter close to them but the chapter is inactive.

A few other sections are out of sync with ideal practices and would cost staff valuable time if they were followed exactly. If we make these simple updates, we’ll be able to remove confusing discrepancies and save time.

Our second area of focus is bettering premium and life categories. For many of us, points of confusion with our current categories include Thousand and Century being both premium (annual) as well as life levels, and Century being higher than Thousand. The names no longer make sense based on the prices and membership goals.

However, before we retire them, we want to recognize the people who founded these clubs. Thanks to in-depth research by David Kawamoto, we know a good amount of history.

The Thousand Club was officially founded in 1947 to get 1,000 members to give $25 per year, for $25,000 extra for JACL. We also recently learned that the Century Club was inspired by the Ota family of Los Angeles when they gave a $100 donation during the 1970 JACL National Convention and pledged to give at this level annually. Should this amendment pass, we plan to honor the founders on our website, Pacific Citizen and other channels to ensure they’re properly honored and remembered.

Considering all of this, we re-envisioned these categories based on being proactive, inclusive, courageous and having a mindset of abundance. For new premium names, we decided to go with the names Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum/Millennium because the amounts and names make sense — they’re timeless, and they are easily recognizable.

We thank the EDC for proposing these names at last year’s convention.

Proposed Premium Levels:

  • New $125 Level: Bronze Level
  • $250 Level: Silver Level replaces Thousand Club (price increases by $50)
  • $500 Level: Gold Level replaces Century Club (price increases by $150)
  • $1,000 Level: Platinum/Millennium Level

The Bronze Level is new, and we hope it will encourage upgrades from Regular/Individual ($65). Silver and Gold will replace Thousand Club and Century Club, and the price increase so the levels are more evenly spaced between $125 and $1,000. Current Thousand Club and Century Club members are welcome to upgrade to these levels or renew at whatever level they feel is right for them. We kept the Millennium name in the Platinum/Millennium Level because it works (1,000 years for $1,000).

Additionally, we plan to retire “and Spouse” levels (usually a $32-$49 add-on) and replace them with “Couple/Family” for a consistent add-on rate of $45. This number comes from the difference between Regular/Individual ($65) and Couple/Family ($110). This change is important to us because the language “Couple/Family” is more inclusive, family-friendly and reflects the modern times we live in. We define Couple/Family as two adults and children 17 and under.

For new life names, we thought it would be meaningful to name them after levels that already exist in JACL. We were inspired by our award pins — Sapphire, Ruby and Diamond.

Proposed Life Levels:

  • $3,000 Level: Sapphire Life Trust replaces Thousand Life Trust
  • $5,000 Level: Ruby Life Trust replaces Century Life Trust
  • New $10,000 Level: Diamond Life Trust

With the new $10,000 level, we hope folks will consider upgrading their current life membership by paying the difference. We have strong evidence for life membership upgrades and had five people in the past year upgrade from the $3,000 level to the $5,000 level by paying $2,000. We believe adding Diamond Life Trust is a great way to increase revenue and keep life members financially involved.

We would also like to mention that current Thousand Life Trust and Century Life Trust members will receive a notice to let them know the name of their membership has changed to Sapphire or Ruby, respectively. (These members won’t need to do or pay anything, it is just an FYI that the name is changed.)

To avoid confusion, we also wanted to share that this proposal does not contain changes to Standard Levels: Student/Youth, Regular/Individual or Couple/Family. This proposal also does not propose changes to chapter dues/dues standardization. Lastly, should the amendment pass, we will allow members to upgrade to new levels right away and aim to officially transition to the new levels starting Jan. 1.

We sincerely appreciate your support of our amendment. If you have any questions, please reach out to us at and The proposal and related documents can be accessed at or the QR code. We could not have pulled this amendment together without the valuable guidance of Tiffany Ikeda, the CBL Committee, Paul Uyehara, Phillip Ozaki and so many others. Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you in Philly!