You already know the answer, really. You’ve heard the stories. You’ve seen the statistics. You’ve seen it used as a political talking point.
But are you “aware” of poverty in terms of how it actually impacts people?

That’s the goal of Poverty Awareness Month, held each year in January. The goal is a simple one: creating awareness of poverty as a condition that affects people in a wide variety of ways, many not obvious to those of us who aren’t poor ourselves.

Poverty awareness is a critical component of many Junior League programs, but none more so than an elegant program that began as a Junior League of London initiative in 2014. Called the Little Black Dress Initiative (tag line: “Make Poverty Unfashionable”), League members will wear one black dress for five straight days to illustrate the effects poverty can have on a woman’s access to resources, confidence, and opportunities. The initiative took off in the U.S. when eleven Junior Leagues in Georgia (Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Cobb-Marietta, Columbus, DeKalb County, Douglas County, Gwinnett & North Fulton Counties, Macon and Savannah) tried it on.

Honoring the United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, held in October, Junior Leagues in Charlotte, Fort Myers, Austin and Orlando hosted “Poverty Simulations,” multi-week guided experiences that task program participants to provide basic necessities and shelter while navigating the complex world of government services and other available providers of services.

Access to healthy food. as well as nutrition education, is another important facet of poverty. Realizing that, the Junior Leagues of Monterey County, Ann Arbor, Phoenix, Sarasota and Greater Orlando have put innovative programs in place to bring improved health outcomes for children in their communities.