INSPIRED IMPACT is an ongoing blog series that gives voice to social entrepreneurs and leaders of mission-driven organizations who are making an impact in their communities, industries, and around the world.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
The mission of Dress for Success is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.
WHY DO YOU DO IT?
My vision for Dress for Success Denver is a community where women do not live in poverty and have the adequate resources, support and network to thrive in work and in life. Every woman has the right to achieve financial independence and self-defined success. We promote this ideal community among women presently living in poverty, with the goal of providing necessary tools to move into financial independence. Our unique approach of targeting this population through collaborative peer support has created a large network of women determined to succeed. Women learn to trust and support each other through friendship, mentorship, parental guidance, confidants, cheerleaders and even a sympathetic ear. Our mission-driven programs bring additional diversity into this community by including women with a desire to contribute as well as those who are in need. Every day we inspire confidence, courage and belief in women!
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
DFS Denver has served more than 13,000 clients since inception in 2006. In 2016, a banner year for DFS Denver, more than 1,569 women participated in DFS Denver’s suite of career-readiness services. DFS Denver’s clients are among Denver’s most vulnerable. Out of the more than 1,500 women served in 2016, 85% are single mothers of two or more dependent children; 70% are women of color; 22% are homeless; 21% have been incarcerated; 11% are LGBTQ and 100% are low to moderate income. Demographically, 36% are Latina, 34% are African American, 25% are Caucasian and 5% are “other.” DFS Denver program participants range in age from 16 to 50+, with 73% between the ages of 25 and 50.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
I am inspired by the brave women who walk through our doors. I have never seen such determination as with the women served by DFS Denver. They have made a decision to move forward regardless of abuse, homelessness, incarceration, single parenthood, etc.; none of it matters. They are have decided to be successful and achieve economic independence. It is important that I do my part to help them. I must provide opportunity, support, resources and sometimes challenges to keep them focused and on track.
WHAT’S YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
I see a world where DFS Denver creates equal opportunity for women. In my dream women are not judged by where they came from but are treasured by overcoming obstacles. I want a world where women make enough money to not raise their children in poverty. Currently, there are two million women incarcerated in the United States. In my world they are welcomed back to society with open arms and encouraged to achieve their dreams. Then finally, I dream that DFS Denver creates a community of women that stretches across socioeconomic boundaries.
WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE?
Dress for Success Denver needs supporters to realize this dream. We need women and men to embrace diversity in the workplace. Finally, we need a “seat at the table” or representation where policies that affect women and children are being made.
WHAT IS (OR HAS BEEN) YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
Our biggest challenge has been marketing. We have an amazing supportive community in Denver but I believe that it could be larger if more people knew about our programs and services. We need to communicate the message that DFSD Denver is building a strong community of women by providing mission driven programming across Colorado.
WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
My main advice is to get to know the population of people that you want to serve. Also, continually check in with them to understand their changing needs and wants so that you can have the most impact on their lives.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
You can visit our website and make a financial donation. You can also donate your professional attire or attend one of our events.
Orapin Marketing + Public Relations is an award-winning communications agency that generates awareness, engagement, and, ultimately, support for mission-driven organizations. We amplify their voice and reach so they can increase their impact. If you would like to be featured on INSPIRED IMPACT, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.