Break the Cycle

Poverty and lack of education form a vicious cycle that can be impossible to escape without the means to get a good job and change your life. This week was our 3rd Annual Little Black Dress Initiative campaign. Advocates have worn the same black dress for 5 days in a row to illustrate the effects that poverty can have on a woman’s access to resources, her self-esteem, and professional opportunities. Help us raise support efforts to break the cycle of poverty in Topeka. Thank you to the numerous women and community partners in Topeka who are helping #JLTopeka raise money for and bring awareness on the issue of community instability in Topeka. With your support we hope to meet our goal for this year! Click here to help make this happen:

Little Black Dress Initiative Day 5

Today is the 5th and final day of the “Little Black Dress Initiative.” Today’s collage features advocates wearing their little black dresses to help illustrate how poverty can effect women’s access to opportunities and resources. The good news here is that with your help and with the support of our amazing community partners like the YWCA of NE Kansas we CAN make a difference!

Could you make it on $20,000/year?

By Brie Engelken-Parks

It seems that everywhere you go these days you see 🛑HELP WANTED🛑 signs but that doesn’t mean people are doing just fine and don’t still need support –

❣️Underemployment is a very real thing right now.
For this year’s Little Black Dress Imitative, I’m doing the #fooddessertchallenge where I has caused me to step back and evaluate how much items really cost.

A food desert is defined as an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food. In Shawnee County, there are currently nine census tracts that are defined as “food deserts” according to the Shawnee County Community Health Improvement Plan from 2019.

The Food Desert Challenge rules (with some tweaks):

🖤 $5/day for all meals
🖤 All groceries and necessities must come from a convenience store the same location because many impacted by food insecurity also live in a food dessert.
🖤 Cannot use anything I had prior to this week
🖤 I’m allowed to indulge in free offerings (free food at work, etc.) because this is often what gets many by each week!

❣️If you make $10/hr, or roughly $20,000/yr, and work 40 hours a week your take home pay each month is roughly $865/mo

❣️A 2 bedroom apartment in Kansas is an average of $750/mo

❣️Utilities would be roughly $150 on average 🤍

🖤And already your monthly income is gone. And that’s with a job! 🖤🤍

The Junior League of Topeka’s Capital Impact Leadership Summit & Immediate Impact Projects help lift those impacted up and work to stop the cycle. YOU CAN HELP!



DAY THREE: Advocates have taken a pledge to “live with Limitation” for 5 days by wearing the same dress each day this week for the Little Black Dress initiative. Clothing can have a profound impact on a person’s outlook and access. And when you’re one of the mothers living in poverty while trying to provide for your family can make it nearly impossible to get ahead.If you’re a parent join us in supporting these women living in poverty. Help us remove barriers and break the cycle of generational poverty. Click here to help support programs that combat community instability


TODAY IS DAY TWO. If you agree this is unacceptable click here to donate and help #JLTopeka and our efforts to combat Community Instability.

1 in 6 Topekans

DAY ONE of the Little Black Dress Initiative … so that ONE DAY there will be fewer families impacted by poverty in Topeka.

Census data indicates approximately ONE in Six Topekans live in poverty and you can support the Junior League of Topeka and their community initiatives aimed at improving this statistic by donating now!


Little Black Dress Initiative 2021

Did you look in your closet full of clothes this morning and think I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!?

What if your closet only had one thing in it? Or what if your “closet” was a bag you lived out of at a hotel or homeless shelter?

Next week is our 3rd annual Little Black Dress Initiative. Junior League of Topeka members and community advocates will be wearing the same black dress every day Monday through Friday to raise awareness about the challenges facing those who live in poverty in the Topeka area and to raise money for Junior League of Topeka programs that provide food, health, and other services to the most vulnerable among us.

To Donate: