Say YES to the Dress!
By Melissa R. Brogdon, Little Black Dress Initiative Chair, The Junior League of Atlanta, Inc.
No, not that dress.
Since 2015, the Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI) has ignited conversations with colleagues, friends, family members, and even strangers focusing on the more than 1,603,000 Georgians who live in poverty. Each October, women of The Junior League of Atlanta, Inc. (JLA) pledge to wear the same black dress (or outfit) for five days and earn a new designation – LBDI Advocate. Living with a limitation is a small sacrifice that Advocates practice to make a big difference for families working to overcome generational poverty each day in Atlanta.
Monday, marked the beginning of this year’s LBDI campaign for JLA, with a goal to raise more than $102,000 in just five days! By donning a button that says “Ask Me About My Dress,” Advocates – league members who have taken the 5 day pledge – share how the league is strategically responding to this crisis by training women to lead and by increasing the capacity of nonprofit organizations to implement their missions. This year alone, funds from our LBDI campaign will help provide more than $200,000 in support and 400 trained volunteers to help 27 partner agencies positively impact the lives of vulnerable women and children in our city.
Our Legacy of Action
JLA officially adopted the issue of generational poverty in 2013 due to its prevalence in our city and state. Georgia is the 5th worst state for child poverty, and each day 36% of Atlanta children live in families that struggle to meet their basic needs.
However, LBDI isn’t the first time women of the league have hit the streets to have tough conversations that translate into results. In fact, in 1986, JLA members traveled around Atlanta – at both day and night – to have conversations with women who were experiencing homelessness. They put their learning into action by founding the Atlanta Children’s Shelter. More than 30 years later, ACS has played host to a new generation of league members by leading the first training of the 2018 LBDI Advocate Education Series.
Lighting the Path
Members at all levels of the league are committing to greater service through LBDI. New this year, Sustainers, members with at least ten years of Junior League service, have championed the LBDI Torchbearers program. This year, longtime league members and leaders Jennifer Cole Beaver, Jennifer Rose and Alex Seblatnigg have each pledged to raise $5,000 to light the path for our Advocates this year.
Excitement about LBDI extends beyond league members. The LBDI Community Ambassadors Program invites influencers and business leaders to take the LBDI pledge alongside our Advocates. Among them is fashion blogger Crystal Daniels of Society of Harlow who will help to champion our cause through her platform. We also invite men and women in our community to participate in LBDI Week by wearing black on a Community Buy-In Industry Day of their choosing.
About The Little Black Dress Initiative
The Little Black Dress Initiative started with the Junior League of London in 2014 and has since become a global campaign for leagues worldwide to raise awareness and funds to support communities in need. Since 2014, more than 200 members of JLA have become trained LBDI Advocates. The Campaign has been featured in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, CNN, and local news stations. In 2016, JLA won a Phoenix Award for the marketing efforts connected to the campaign by the Georgia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
The JLA is proud to continue our legacy of direct service in Atlanta through the Little Black Dress Initiative. We invite you to learn more about LBDI and to support the campaign at www.lbdijla.causevox.com.