The Story of the Little Black Dress Initiative
Can one black dress worn for five short days create awareness about issues that affect others for a lifetime?
The iconic Little Black Dress (LBD) is usually thought of as just a fashionable wardrobe staple great for business or a fun night out. So why is the LBD at the center of an awareness campaign about foster youth?
Founded in 2014 by the Junior League of London, the Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI) is a week-long awareness and fundraising campaign that harnesses the power of social media to illustrate the limitations foster youth have in choices, opportunities, and access to resources. Advocates wear one black dress for five consecutive days, in an effort to spark conversations and awareness about local foster youth and related issues.
To date, dozens of Junior Leagues have replicated the initiative in their own communities, collectively sparking countless conversations and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of important community programs.
Junior League of Los Angeles Little Black Dress Initiative COVID-19 Appeal
From October 19, 2020 – October 24, 2020, participants will wear a black dress for 5 consecutive days to raise awareness in the workplace, amongst family and friends, and through their social network about the issues facing foster youth in Los Angeles.
Join us, wear the dress, be a sponsor, be an advocate, support our mission! Anyone can support this special initiative by joining our non-member advocates team. Corporate and Family Sponsor packages now available.
Please contact email@example.com
Know the Facts
Each year, 30,000 children are in foster care in Los Angeles County. They have been removed from their homes and placed in foster care because a court has determined that it isn’t safe for the child to remain at home due to evidence or risk of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
In foster care, children will move from placement to placement staying with grandparents, relatives, friends, or foster parents until their case is resolved or they are adopted. Nearly 3/4 of all foster youth have spent two or more years in the foster care system with 40% having five or more foster care placements. The frequent disruptions and lack of support do not set them up for success through their adolescence and into adulthood.
By the time they turn 18, or 21 if they choose to stay in extended foster care, foster youth who have aged out of the system face many challenges in their transition to self-sufficiency:
- 33% of girls become pregnant at least once by age 17, 75% by age 21.
- 75% of students in foster care are performing below grade level.
- Less than 50% of youth graduate from high school and only 3% graduate fromcollege.
- At age 19, 60% of former foster youth are unemployed.
- 50% of those who age out end up homeless or incarcerated.
Rising to the Occasion
In 2013, funding was eliminated for integral mentoring and life-skills training programs that supported hundreds of youth in Los Angeles County as they aged out of the foster care system. Since then, JLLA has responded to this service gap in the following key ways:
- Direct Service Projects:
- Alliance for Children’s Rights (Alliance) – JLLA partnered with the Alliance for Children’s Rights, a non-profit legal services and advocacy organization that works to protect the rights of impoverished, abused, and neglected children in Los Angeles County. JLLA’s project serves up to 40-50 young women ages 14-21 that are currently in or were once in foster care. Topics are identified in partnership with the youth and have included interviewing skills, building a resume, money management, safe sex practices, and stress management.
- United Friends of the Children (UFC) – United Friends of the Children is a non-profit dedicated to the premise that foster youth deserve successful adulthood. Through their Housing and Education programs, UFC supports foster youth in their efforts to graduate from high school and college, get a job, find housing, and transition towards independence. JLLA’s project serves approximately 50-60 high-school aged youth through a program focused on their transition out of care and into higher education. JLLA members facilitate monthly workshops on topics including career development, self-advocacy, stress management, and financial literacy.
- Policy and Advocacy – For 25 years, JLLA’s policy programs have focused on shifting paradigms through training, engagement and coalition building. Through a signature program, Civic Leadership Forum, JLLA has trained over 1,400 community members on a variety of key issues impacting foster youth in Los Angeles. Topics have included human trafficking, barriers to higher education, and parenting.
- Done In A Days – Last year, JLLA committed over 900 volunteer hours over the course of 30 volunteer events. The DIAD committee serves multiple community partners across Los Angeles that are committed to addressing and advancing issues impacting foster youth. Some of our partners include: Friends LA, Children’s Institute, and Hollygrove with service projects focusing on literacy, STEAM, and resume writing workshops.
Questions? email firstname.lastname@example.org