Little Black Dress Initiative

We are so excited to announce our 2023 Little Black Dress Initiative! From March 5-11, we’re inviting all JLC Members — as well as our allies and fellow advocates in the community — to join us in an awareness and fundraising campaign aimed at furthering the critical mission of the Junior League of Charlotte.

As we prepare for our campaign, we are honored to share this video interview with Zena Martin, who originally founded the Little Black Dress Initiative during her time with the Junior League in London. Zena shares with us her inspirational story, her insight and her incredible energy. She also tells us the story behind LBDI’s slogan, “make poverty unfashionable” and gives us some great tips for maximizing our fundraising efforts. Please enjoy this video and get ready for LBDI!!

What is the Junior League of Charlotte? 

The Junior League of Charlotte, Inc. (JLC) is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, to developing the potential of women and to improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. The JLC was founded in 1926 and in its over 90 years, has provided more than 1.6 million hours of volunteer service and more than $13.7 million to the community. Our membership includes over 1,700 committed volunteer members in Charlotte and surrounding communities.

What is the Little Black Dress Initiative?

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. Participants wear one black dress or outfit for five consecutive days and are encouraged to harness the power of social media to drive online donations. The purpose of LBDI is not just to wear the same dress for five days. It provides a chance for us, as Junior League of Charlotte members, to discuss the needs in our community and what we can do to help. 

Where will my donations go? 

The funds raised make possible the work and mission of the Junior League of Charlotte. All donations are fully tax-deductible. A few of the ways the JLC is using unrestricted donor gifts to address the devastating effects of poverty are:

  • In the past year, provided more than 1,400 immunizations to school-age children through Big Shot Saturdays so they can attend school and stay healthy.
  • The JLC Give Kids a Smile team assists in providing free dental care and provides education to elementary children on dental health.

Who can participate?

Anyone and everyone can participate! LBDI is open to all and is a campaign that fosters individual advocacy. Members can activate their individual fundraising platforms, participate in teams and/or invite their family, friends and coworkers to join in!

How can I participate? 

Activate your individual or team fundraising page. Pick up your “Ask Me About My Dress” pin at the JLC Headquarters. Wear your dress starting on March 5, prepare to share your story on social media and be on the lookout for fundraising tips and tricks from us when the campaign launches.

Is there a poverty problem locally?  

Yes! Here are just a few shocking statistics:

  • 50,000 children in Charlotte are currently living in poverty.
  • Almost 1 in 5 children in Charlotte are currently living in poverty.
  • Over 4,000 children in CMS schools are reported homeless.
  • 134,000 Charlotteans are living in poverty.

Participation in LBDI is open to JLC members and the general public.

Questions: Email us at