The Little Black Dress Initiative

Junior Leagues of Georgia wearing their Little Black Dresses during Capitol Day in March 2016.

Originated by the Junior League of London, the Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI) seeks to make “poverty unfashionable” by illustrating the effects of severe financial hardship, low self-esteem and limited access to resources and opportunities for women and children.

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 League of Gwinnett and North Fulton Counties (JLGNF).

From February 20-24, 2017, JLGNF members will wear one black dress or ensemble for five consecutive days to raise awareness about the issue of poverty in Georgia. Advocates will wear a pin that says, “Ask Me About My Dress,” to generate discussion about the initiative and its objectives. Organizations joining the crusade include the Junior Leagues of Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Cobb-Marietta, Columbus, DeKalb County, Douglas County, Gainesville-Hall County, Macon, Savannah and more.

JLGNF members wearing their black ensembles for the 2016 LBDI.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, Georgia has one of the highest poverty rates of children in the United States at 24.7 percent. The following statistics typify the severity of this problem in the areas surrounding JLGNF:

  • More than 1.7 million Georgians are impoverished.
  • 6.5 percent of Forsyth County’s overall population and six percent of its children are living in poverty.
  • 17.6 percent of Fulton County’s overall population and 23.8 percent of its children are living in poverty.
  • 12.6 percent of Gwinnett County’s overall population and 17.9 percent of its children are living in poverty.

Additional statistics:

  • Families with children make up 34 percent of the people in this country who experience homelessness. (Source: Family Promise National 2015 Annual Report)
  • More than 45 million people live below the poverty line of $24,300 for a family of four. (Source: Family Promise National 2015 Annual Report)
  • 2/3 of the adults experiencing homelessness have not received a high school diploma or completed a GED. (Source: Fulton County Schools)
  • Georgia ranks as the second worst state at risk for child homelessness. (Source: America’s Youngest Outcasts: A Report Card on Child Homelessness
  • In 2014, over 700 students were identified and received services through the Forsyth County Schools Homeless Education Program. (Source: Forsyth County Schools Homeless Education Presentation)
  • In Fulton County Schools, over 1,500 homeless students were identified in the last school year. (Source: Fulton County Schools)
  • 55 percent of all Gwinnett County school children are eligible for free or reduced lunches. That’s more than 91,500 children – enough to fill over 1,250 school buses. (Source: Yes We C.A.N. Gwinnett)

Join the conversation to help spread awareness and follow along on social media using #JLGNFdoesLBDI and #theLBDI

Thank you to the Johns Creek Herald for covering JLGNF’s involvement in 2016! Click here to read the entire article.

 

For more, check out the following recap of JLGNF members who participated in the 2016 LBDI.