Little Black Dress Initiative


What is the Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI)? 

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 in Mecklenburg County. Participants wear one black dress or all-black outfit, for five consecutive days and are encouraged to harness the power of social media, email and face-to-face interactions with family, friends and coworkers to drive online donations.

All funds raised directly support the work and mission of the Junior League: promoting voluntarism, developing community leaders and improving the community.

LBDI was started by Junior League of London members who, during London Fashion week, wore the same black dress to work, parties, dinners and events to raise funds and increase awareness of poverty in the city. The campaign was such a success, the group encouraged Junior League chapters across the world to host their own LBDIs throughout the year.

Is there a poverty problem in Mecklenburg County?   

Yes. In 2014, a study by Harvard University researchers was released that ranked Charlotte last for economic mobility among the 50 largest U.S. metro areas. This means that if you are born into poverty in Charlotte, it is near impossible to get out of poverty. 

In 2020, a new report was issued in conjunction with Foundation for the Carolinas and Leading on Opportunity that was still troubling but created a framework to make a difference. Some of the findings from that report include: 

  • Children who grow up in Charlotte’s low-income households still have a poor chance of escaping poverty. For example, Children from low-income families — defined as households that earn $27,000 — can expect household income as adults of just $26,000 a year, versus $49,000 for those from high-income families.
  • Low economic mobility disproportionately affects people of color. A Black child growing up in a low-income home can expect a household income of $21,599 a year at age 34. It’s $32,087 for a Hispanic child and $22,637 for a native American child. A white child can expect $34,256. 
  • Mecklenburg County ranks 96th overall among the nation’s 100 largest counties for upward mobility.
  • 1 in 5 children in Charlotte is currently living in poverty.
  • Over 4,000 children in CMS schools are considered housing insecure.
  • More than 1 in 7 (15.2%) of Charlotte residents live below the poverty line.

Where will my donations go? 

All funds raised will go to furthering 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, the JLC 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.