Little Black Dress


Our region consistently ranks as one of the highest costs of living in the country, primarily due to high housing costs; this is especially true for residents of color. On any given day, roughly 30% of DC area families are concerned about paying their rent–and when families must spend significantly more than 30% of their income on housing, budgets become pinched and lives become unstable. With a significant portion of DC area families living below the “stable” income level of roughly $112,000, families do not have the budget to cover both rent and basic necessities such as food, health care, transportation, and basic personal hygiene.

This is why JLW, through the Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI), is putting time and resources to combat housing insecurity in the DMV. Why this focus? Because stable housing builds stable, stronger communities. From November 13–17, 2023, LBDI will raise funds for its Community Assistance Grants, a pipeline that, since 2020, has injected more than $200,000 toward building stable, stronger communities across the DC metro area. Learn more here about recent Community Assistance Grant awardees and the programs that LBDI has helped fund.

Stay tuned for more information about LBDI and ways to support this fundraising effort. For questions, please email us at


LBDI is a social media-driven awareness and fundraising campaign started by the Junior League of London to raise awareness about poverty and its effects on women’s lives. 

Since its launch in London in 2014, more than 80 Junior Leagues have participated in LBDI, raising tens of thousands of dollars and awareness about their particular community work focus, i.e., domestic violence, human trafficking, literacy, food insecurity. 

LBDI advocates wear the same black dress (or outfit) for five consecutive days to illustrate the restrictions poverty places on choices, opportunities, and access to resources. Each advocate normally wears a button that says “ask me about my dress”, inviting dialogue among colleagues, friends, and strangers about this initiative’s message. Advocates also engage on social media, sharing statistics, information, and their experiences throughout the period. Messaging includes a soft ask for donations to support the cause.