As Dress for Success nears the fourth quarter of the year, it is important for the organization to reflect on our gains, successes, and efforts furthering the economic independence of low-income women worldwide. Dress for Success is proud to once again share with the Global Giving community our organizational report.
Dress for Success is well on its way to providing nearly 50,000 women with professional apparel, career development services, and ongoing employment retention programming this year. All of our organizational objectives, namely providing low-income women with professional attire and resources to reach financial independence, are being achieved through our signature programs: The Professional Women’s Group, The Financial Literacy program, and The Going Places Network by Walmart program. In addition to our service impact, Dress for Success continues to grow into a thriving international organization as our network now includes affiliates in 134 cities across 15 countries.
This past year was also monumental as Dress for Success held two transformational professional leadership conferences for staff and clients of the organization. This year’s 9th Annual Success Summit, a three-day Women’s Leadership Conference that has become one of the most anticipated weekends of the year for our organization, was a resounding success! The annual conference was held in Miami over the July 12th weekend. The conference, funded by the QBE Foundation and the Rona Jaffe Foundation, celebrates the triumphs of our Professional Women’s Group members (delegates) and the power of Professional Women’s Group affiliate leaders who lend their time and talents to embolden our clients towards economic success. One of the most essential ingredients to building a spectacular Success Summit experience is the addition of special guest instructors, speakers, and lecturers. One of this year’s most fabulous special guests, Brett Hoebel, helped to kick off our Saturday, July 13, sessions. Hoebel, from NBC’s The Biggest Loser, is a Martial Arts Expert, Health and Fitness Guru, Holistic Mental Wellness Spiritual Guide, and Empowering Motivator. Brett inspired our attendees with his personal fitness philosophy and motivated our attendees to participate in an eclectic version of mixed martial arts, yoga, and meditation during Saturday morning’s holistic fitness workout. Following Saturday’s active workout and a full-day of leadership workshops, our ladies prepared for the Success Summit Awards Dinner held in the EPIC hotel’s grand Metropolis Ballroom. But this was no ordinary Awards Dinner, as special guest singer and philanthropist Chaka Khan unexpectedly graced the stage and belted out the powerful, transformational song “Angel.” The Chaka Khan Foundation has recently collaborated with Dress for Success Worldwide to provide women across the globe with an educational scholarship to continue the pursuit of pre- and post-graduate studies. Chaka Khan’s exceptional performance was an unforgettable moment and a perfect way to kick off our new partnership! This year’s Success Summit was the epitome of conference excellence and our best Success Summit to date.
Our second conference of the year, the Annual Affiliate Leadership Conference, is Dress for Success’ opportunity to bring together affiliate leaders from the 120+ affiliate network to discuss issues related to non-profit management, affiliate excellence, program effectiveness, and leadership development. This year’s Affiliate Leadership Conference was held in Philadelphia, PA. The Affiliate Conference is a valuable experience for affiliates as it enables them to gain best practices, learn from experts, and build relationships with other affiliates over the three day workshop retreat. Lessons learned from the Affiliate Conference help our affiliate leaders serve Dress for Success women in their local communities more effectively and efficiently. We could not have provided this exceptional experience to our affiliate leaders without the support of Southwest Airlines. Southwest Airlines, the official airline of Dress for Success Worldwide, supports our organization through financial support and through donated air line tickets to use for conferences such as the Affiliate Leadership Conference.
Dress for Success is also pleased to report on the generous support provided by our corporate partners as they assist us to further our mission. Earlier this year, Dress for Success Worldwide received a grant of $475,000 from the Walmart Foundation to enhance the network capacity and infrastructure of the Dress for Success affiliate network through the “Paving the Way Forward” initiative. Each selected affiliate of the Paving the Way Forward initiative will receive $25,000 to further strengthen the service delivery of their Career Centers, while increasing efficiencies and developing the long-term sustainability of Dress for Success job seeking resources. These new grants were generously provided in addition to the $2.5 million award that the Walmart Foundation has given to Dress for Success Worldwide to support the organization’s “Going Places Network by Walmart” (GPN) in 2013 and 2014. In addition to Paving the Way Forward and the GPN, Walmart has a longstanding history with Dress for Success Worldwide. The retailer has supported Dress for Success Worldwide with in-kind donations of clothing, volunteer projects and event sponsorships. In response to the organization’s need for plus-size clothing, Walmart manufactured and donated thousands of plus-size suits under the George label for Dress for Success. The company has also supported the Success Summit, the leadership conference for Dress for Success clients who are members of the organization’s Professional Women’s Group. Fifty of Walmart’s senior female executives have also worked with Dress for Success clients participating in the Success Summit for eight months of one-on-one coaching as part of the Leader to LeadHER program.
Another notable partnership includes our recent collaboration with Bethenny Frankel and the Skinnygirl® Cocktails line. In early September 2013, Skinnygirl® Cocktails and Bethenny, the original Skinnygirl, donated $100,000 to Dress for Success during her new daytime talk show "bethenny." As a thriving female entrepreneur, Bethenny serves as an inspiration for Dress for Success clients and hopes the donation will empower viewers and fans nationwide to support other women. "Dress for Success is a charity that's near and dear to me. I'm so very thankful for the amazing opportunity to raise awareness for this great cause and encourage women to help one another to achieve financial independence and have a rewarding career," said Bethenny Frankel. Since 2012, Skinnygirl® Cocktails has been a proud supporter of Dress for Success. Skinnygirl® Cocktails launched their partnership with Dress for Success during last year's Inspire like a Lady program, making a donation for every inspirational story shared by fans. Additional support included the Ladies in Red program during the 2013 awards season, in which Skinnygirl® Cocktails gave back in style and made a donation to Dress for Success for every red dress worn on the Oscars red carpet. In addition, Dress for Success has teamed up with resource natural spring water; a natural extension of the brand’s core essence of empowering the mind, body, and soul. resource and Dress for Success Worldwide have joined together to help women thrive – in work and in life and throughout the year, the two organizations will come together through a series of events and sponsorships, including the Something to Share Gala and Power Walks, and Shop for Success. resource also supports Dress for Success’ Young Executives for Success (Y.E.S!) groups across the country, as the volunteer group’s first-ever official partner.
With the support of the GlobalGiving community, who have donated a total of $560, and through the delivery of our six signature programs, Dress for Success is able to present specialized training, expert knowledge, and resources to low-income women hoping to reach their personal and professional goals of success. Through the investment of our donors, clients are impacted by Dress for Success throughout their entire professional life cycle – from unemployment to early employment to economic independence. Fulfilling our mission is critical to us as the success of the organization is determined by the success of generating positive results in the participants’ long term lives. This in turn provides tangible results that motivate and inspire Worldwide staff and the Board of Directors in each of our respective roles within the organization.
We are very appreciative of the Global Giving community’s support and look forward to 2014 as another productive and dynamic year bringing Dress for Success services to women worldwide!
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