Dress for Success helps women earn economic independence

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Dress for Success does much more than give underprivileged women free suits, which, in itself, is a heroic venture. This nonprofit organization — that started in New York City in 1997 and has since branched out to aid more than 700,000 women in 15 different countries — helps women find jobs and build their career portfolios. Through network support, career development tools, mentoring and free professional attire, women not only are able to increase their earning potential but also they are capable of developing confidence and strength as they enter the workforce.

Nancy Lublin founded Dress for Success with her $5,000 inheritance, given to her by her great-grandfather. Lublin wanted to help others gain opportunities and better their lives, as a tribute to her great-grandfather. With the help of three Spanish Harlem nuns, whom all had experience running public service programs, Dress for Success was off the ground. It wasn’t too long after that before other communities contacted Lublin and asked for her help, which then lead to the licensing of Dress for Success to other organizations globally.

“I feel pretty darn lucky to have created something that has helped so many women reclaim their destinies,” Lublin said.

Nearly 5,000 nonprofit organizations refer women in need to Dress for Success: homeless shelters, educational institutions, domestic violence shelters, immigration services and more. The women who receive assistance from Dress for Success are able to take advantage of ongoing career support, mentoring, networking and access to meetings and events provided by the Professional Women’s Group Program. This membership is granted to Dress for Success clients that have successfully gained employment. Financial literacy workshops, guest speakers, monthly meetings and financial planning are all benefits of this program.

Dress for Success also has a Career Center, which helps clients earn confidence and occupation awareness. Vocation guidance, technology skills and job search assistance is provided to women one-on-one by qualified staff. Clients have access to vital Internet access, job placement software, resume and cover-letter writing instruction and interview preparation.

Further, Dress for Success women are aided by the publication Steps to Success: A Guide to Success in the Workplace, which focuses on the first 30 days of employment. An initiative made real by the National Endowment for Financial Education, this publication helps disadvantaged women plan for their futures, get ready for a new job, discover potential barriers and recognize the resources that exist to help them.

“Dress for Success has so many avenues where ladies can share information. I love that we have a group of women learning from each other,” said Melina Land, peer mentor and Professional Women’s Group member.