Little Black Dress Initiative

Monday, April 2, 2018 - Friday, April 6, 2018



The Junior League of Savannah will be participating in the Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI) on April 2-6, 2018. Throughout the week, LBDI Advocates will wear the same black outfit for five consecutive days to illustrate the effects poverty can have on a woman’s access to re- sources, her confidence, and professional opportunities. By wearing a button that reads “Ask me about my dress,” Advocates are invited to dialogue among colleagues, friends, and strangers to raise awareness about poverty.

For questions regarding JLS LBDI or how to provide support, please contact Annual and Endowment Fund Chair Misty Thompson at

What is the Little Black Dress Initiative?

In February 2014, the Junior League of London pioneered the Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI) with the goal to “make poverty unfashionable.” While their fellow Londoners were attending London Fashion Week, local Junior Leaguers were wearing the same black dress every day to work, parties, dinners and events to raise funds and increase awareness of poverty in the city. The first campaign was so successful that they decided to take the initiative worldwide.

London Called: Georgia Answered

The Georgia Junior Leagues answered London’s call and now run their own LBDI campaigns. Some statistics say that over 40 percent of single family homes in Georgia are living below the poverty line. Growing up in poverty is one of the greatest threats to healthy child development, and poverty and financial stress can impede a child’s cognitive development and their ability to learn. So the LBDI was a natural fit for the Junior Leagues of Georgia.

The Little Black Dress Initiative provides the platform to engage in open discussions about the effects of limited resources on a family, and its detrimental repercussions on literacy and education, while undermining hope for their future.

How does it work?

The LBDI is a week-long, social media-driven fundraising campaign that uses the iconic “little black dress” to raise awareness about poverty and its effects on women in society. The Junior League of Savannah is inviting Members and the community to wear the same black dress or outfit for five consecutive days from April 2nd-6th with a pin that requests the public to “Ask Me About My Dress,” with the goal of sparking conversation and spreading awareness of the initiative and its objectives. Advocates are encouraged to harness the power of social media platforms to drive online donations, which are collected through a charitable fundraising site. The funds raised make possible the work and mission of the Junior League: promoting voluntary service, developing the potential of women, and improving the community. Following the campaign, participants donate dresses and other business appropriate clothing to the DIVAs program

How can you get involved?

To register as an Advocate, simply contact Annual and Endowment Fund Chair Misty Thompson at; you will then be provided a registration packet.

To support the Initiative, consider donating here.

Do you own or are part of a business that may be interested in sponsoring the Initiative? Contact Fund Development Chair Nikkie Swain at

How does poverty connect to JLS’ Education Performance?

The connection between low-income families and barriers to education is a strong one. Here are 5 ways the two are inextricably linked, from Scientific Learning ( and

  1. Disadvantaged before birth— many factors present in low-income households directly impact cognitive capacity in children. Prenatal drug use, environmental toxins, poor nutrition, and exposure to stress and violence all create significant negative impacts on a child’s educational development. Children who live in poverty are 1.3x more likely to have developmental delays or learning disabilities.

  2. Less verbal exposure—both quality and quantity of conversation are lower in poverty-stricken house- holds. 40% of children living in poverty are not prepared to enter primary school.

  3. Poor sense of agency— children who come from low-income households have not developed a sense of control over their own lives, and therefore do not understand that they are an independent person capable of making different choices and changing their station. This is a result of growing up in a volatile environment, where they are constantly in situations outside the control of both themselves and their care- givers.

  4. Low executive function—insecurities brought on by poverty release stress hormones, which in turn interfere with a child’s ability to exhibit impulse control, emotional regulation, attention management, prioritization of tasks, and working memory. All of these result in poor classroom performance.

  5. More demanding environment—today’s economy has become more knowledge-based, so moving out from under poverty is more complex than it was in the past. Attaining economic independence requires more education and strong planning and interpersonal skills; as described above, low-income students are automatically at a disadvantage on this front. Thus the cycle continues.

Low-income students are 4.5x more likely to drop out of high school. Less than 30% of students in the bottom quarter of incomes will enroll in a four-year college, and of those less than 50% graduate.

How is JLS making a difference?

Through our various community outreach pro- grams, community funding, and scholarships, JLS aims to improve the lives of as many students as possible in the Lowcountry/Savannah/Golden Isles communities. For example, our Backpack Buddies program provides nutritional assistance for over 90 students every week at Garden City Elementary, a Title I school.