Little Black Dress Initiative

JLM Aims to "Make Poverty Unfashionable"

The Junior League of Morristown has since twice particpated in the week-long social media-driven fundraising campaign. LBDI uses the iconic "little black dress" to raise awareness about poverty in Morris County, especially among teens. 

The Junior League of London in February 2014 created the LBDI with an important goal: to "Make Poverty Unfashionable." During Fashion Week, when other Londoners were celebrating all things fashion, members chose to wear the same black dress every day to work, parties, and events to raise funds and increase awareness of poverty in their city. Since then, the LBDI has come stateside, with dozens of Leagues across the country participating within their own communities.  

During LBDI Week, historically held in the month of November, JLM members wore the same black dress or outfit with a button that urged the public to "Ask Me About My Dress" to act as a visual representation of the lack of choice and limited opportunities faced by those living in poverty and struggling with food insecurity in our community. In our inagural year, 30 members particpated and in 2017 36 members joined to help "Make Poverty Unfashionable!".

How is JLM Making A Difference?

The LBDI is more than little black dresses because the women who wear them are powerful forces of change. By participating in the LBDI, League members are reinforcing our new community impact, which addresses the unmet needs of teens in Morris County and the surrounding area to ensure ample food, resources and education are provided to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Our key community programs & projects include.

Children Making Healthy Choices Initative: Educates children, including teens and their families about the importance of leading healthy lifestyles. With the support of the Interfaith Food Pantry, our primary community partner, the CMHC conducts series of interactive cooking workshops to educate families how to prepare quick, healthy meals using ingredients available at the food pantry. CMHC also conducts wellness programs at Daytop Village, a residential substance treatment facility that addresses the needs of adolescents in Mendham, NJ, to promote exercise, meditation and healthy eating.

Teen Ally Program: After two years of research, the JLM has embarked on a new focus area, improving the health and welfare of teens in our community. To begin our new focus area, the JLM has partnered with the Colonial Closet at Morris High School to assess the needs and assist in providing essential personal care and nutritional items.  It is our goal to bring similar set ups and services to other teens in need in our community.

Through our Helping Hands Initative, we routinely provide local agencies with hands on assistance for specific programs and projects. A few organizations that work to provide food, resources and education in our community are:

    • Homeless Solutions
    • Interfaith Food Pantry
    • Jersey Battered Women’s Service
    • Morristown Neighborhood House
    • Morris County Habitat for Humanity

Why is this campaign necessary?

  • As of 2014, Morris County has 5,145 children living under the Federal Poverty Guideline. The Federal Poverty Guideline for a family 4 is $24,300 per year.*
  • As of the 2015-2016 school year, 1,960 in Morris County are receiving free or reduced lunch, however, it is estimated that only 18% of the eligible children are enrolled in the program.*
  • The fair market rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in Morris County is $1,280 a month. In order to afford this apartment, a household would need to earn over $51,000 per year. At the NJ minimum wage of $7.25 an hour - that is 135 hours per week, 52 weeks a year!**
  • As of 2013, 21% of families or 179,876 families are above the Federal Poverty Guideline but live below the ALICE threshold (Asset Limited Income Constrainied Employed). This means they are in the gap between the Federal Poverty Guideline and the Threshold Survival budget (the cost to afford the basic needs).#

*2015 New Jersey Kids Count from Advocates for Children of New Jersey; #ALICE Report from the United Way; **Family Promise Morris County

Time, Talent and Treasure - we all have something to contribute!

  • Join Us: Join the challenge, and wear the same LBD during the campaign wee. Click here to register. Participants will receive a welcome packet which will include tips, sample social media posts, and materials for a successful week.  
  • Donate to the Cause:  Click here to make a donation to the JLM Annual Fund. Help us meet our goal of $19,000. Monies raised will support the League’s mission of promoting the health and wellness of Morris-area teens and related community projects.
  • Support Dress for Success: Donate new or slightly worn professional items to Dress for Sucess Northern New Jersey.  At the conclusion of the week, particpants will have the opportunity to donate their dresses to "furnish another woman with the confidence to enter or return to the workplace, make a great first impression and land a job that could change her life". We thank Dress for Success Northern New Jersey for their support of the LBDI.
  • Increase Awareness: Throughout the week, JLM will be taking to social media with important poverty facts, figures and posting our experiences.  New this year, we will be donating items to the Morristown High School Colonial Closet (individual cereal cups) and Dress for Success Northern New Jersey (USBs for job training) for every social share on specific dates. Follow us using hashtags #JLMwearsLBD and #MakingPovertyFashionable.