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Joi Gordon Suiting Client Dress for Success

$100 gives a woman the experience of her first Suiting, complete with a personal shopper

Dress for Success Worldwide

Dress for Success Worldwide's story began in 1997 in the basement of a small Manhattan church.  What started as a single suit donations program has transformed into a global service organization that outfits women with the skills and tools needed to acquire and maintain gainful employment. 

It is our mission to promote the economic independence of women by providing a network of support, professional attire and the career development tools to help them thrive in work and in life.  Essentially, we help women find and maintain employment, become financially savvy, improve their health and wellness, and achieve self-defined success.  Since inception, Dress for Success has served over 925,000 low-income women at close to 142 affiliates in 21 countries. 

Our efforts are also supported by more than 10,000 volunteers worldwide. With a global headquarters in New York City, Dress for Success has a presence throughout the U.S., Australia, Canada, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, United Kingdom, and the West Indies.  In 2015, more than 70,000 clients were provided with professional apparel, career development services and ongoing employment retention programs from our offices around the world. 

Our clients are women who are referred to Dress for Success through our network of more than 4,500 partner agencies. These agencies include a variety of educational institutions, reentry programs for the formerly incarcerated, homeless and domestic violence shelters, rehabilitation programs, and more. 

All Dress for Success women have taken the first step toward financial independence by obtaining a job interview prior to becoming a Dress for Success client. Dress for Success has six signature programs that help ensure all of our clients are Going Places. Going Strong.  Below is our impact of services:

I. Suiting

Dress for Success Worldwide solves the catch-22 that confronts women trying to enter the workforce: without a job, how can you afford a suit? But, without a suit, how can you get a job? On her initial visit to our organization, a woman receives a suit appropriate for the industry in which she is interviewing and, if available, accessories including shoes, handbag, and jewelry. 

II. Career Center

At Dress for Success Worldwide, clients have full access to our Career Center workstations every day, during normal business hours. Career Centers are dedicated work spaces that allow clients to craft and edit, access computers, conduct mock interviews, and receive career advancement counseling. 

III. The Going Places Network by Walmart (GPN)

For women who are referred to our Suiting Program and Career Center at the beginning of their job search, but do not immediately land a job, we offer the Going Places Network by Walmart. The Going Places Network serves as a "safety net" for clients committed to gaining professional skills, accelerating their job search and building confidence through weekly training sessions, one-on-one career coaching and networking in a supportive environment. In 2015, the Going Places Network by Walmart program served over 3,600 women through 180 cohorts in 50 participating affiliate groups across the United States. In 2014, the cumulative hiring rate was 76 percent. Since its inception in 2011, the Going Places Network by Walmart program has served over 15,000 women.

IV. Professional Women's Group (PWG)

Recently employed women are invited to participate in the Professional Women's Group (PWG) program; an environment for newly employed women to network with peers and career professionals to improve their understanding and success in the workforce. Currently over 70% of the women that join the Professional Women's Group program retain employment for a year or longer. This is a very important milestone since employee retention increases clients' opportunities to secure a raise or promotion, while also contributing to their overall stability. 

V. Financial Education Program 

Earning a living is only half of the journey to financial independence. Clients who are active PWG members are eligible to enroll in Dress for Success' 13-week Financial Education Program. The program, designed with the unique needs of disadvantaged women in mind, ensures that each participant learns to make sound financial decisions, develops a money management plan for her future, and is empowered to reclaim her financial freedom. Currently the Financial Education Program is offered in 2 affiliates in the U.S. with up to 30 women graduating from the program, and we are looking to offer it in additional cities. In 2016, 14 women from the New York City affiliate graduated from the program. Other New York City highlights include every single participant achieving at least one of their personal, short term financial goals and 100% establishing a household or personal budget to better understand what is driving their spending habits. We are also pleased to report that clients successfully met our highest benchmarks for several other criteria: 100% of Financial Education Program participants in New York opened a checking and savings account, created a monthly budget within three months of starting the program, and started to put money aside in an emergency fund. 

VI. Health and Wellness 

Health and wellness plays a vital role in a woman's journey towards success. An active lifestyle and wholesome eating habits promotes physical and mental wellness, and cuts down the number of days an employee is absent from work while dramatically increasing overall productivity and workplace contributions. In 2015, Dress for Success' Health and Wellness Initiative helped 645 women participating in 9 affiliate groups across the United States obtained healthy behaviors to lead more productive lives. Bronx branch hosted an educational health series and provided health education to 82 women. The Health Fair brought participants and several health care providers together to engage in fun fitness activities like Zumba and Boot Camp training as well as health and wellness topics ranging from Nutrition and Healthy Eating, Mental Health and Wellness, Elder/Self Care, Cancer Awareness and Prevention, and HIV/Aids Awareness.