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Northwest Homegrown 2

Dress for Success, Breaking the Cycle of Poverty


As you start planning spring cleaning around your home and in your closet, you may have more to offer a local nonprofit than you realize!

Dress for Success began in Arkansas 11 years ago, with the statewide affiliate located in Northwest Arkansas focused on providing long-lasting solutions toward breaking the cycle of poverty. The organization hosts worldwide representation with 300 locations in 25 countries. And while the main office is in Rogers, they support communities across Arkansas.

Since 2013, Dress For Success Arkansas has served more than 5000 women, with the team serving half of those in 2023 alone. Community partnerships and awareness are helping those in need find services to equip them to live better.

How Does Dress for Success Work?

Many people consider Dress For Success an attire conduit for those who need support with career preparation. And, while the boutique is one part of their client support, more than 65% of clients initiate their involvement through educational opportunities.

“At our basis, we are a workforce development training mechanism for Arkansas,” shared Rachel Cox, executive Director for Dress For Success, Arkansas. “With our community partners and sponsors, we can offer, FREE of charge, necessary classes for developing workforce skills and career attire for interviews, workdays and court appearances. We resource those seeking economic independence and realize that looks different for each person.”

Many corporate and community partnerships with other regional nonprofits build a thriving network of stewarding donor sponsorships by navigating resources instead of multiplying efforts. For instance, the organization partners with the women’s prison by teaching job skills, soft skills, and confidence building for those who will leave incarceration in the next three-six months.

Other workshops are taught at local libraries, shelters and sober living spaces to bring the needed skills development experiences to clients directly. While success looks different with each client, Dress For Success hopes their client starts the path toward empowerment, honesty, financial independence, and thriving. For some, that means taking steps toward a dream job. For others, that means having money to buy and prepare meals for their family; some even move into independent living situations.

Cox mentioned, “It is a rewarding experience for our staff to work with clients and watch them progress into thriving. Over 70% of our clients are single parents, and we can partner with organizations like the Single Parent Scholarship Fund to help them further their education or Upskill NWA, where they are taking steps toward a dream job. We are always asking ourselves, ‘How can we help prepare them to take the next step on their path of personal development and economic independence?’”

What Programs Does Dress For Success Offer in Arkansas?

Dress For Success offers classes in:

  • Creating and maintaining a resume
  • Interview Skills
  • Job Searching
  • Career Coaching
  • Financial Literacy

They offer in-person classes in the Center for nonprofits in Rogers, but with a statewide basis, attendees can visit their Professional Women’s Group online each month by Zoom.

Two pilot programs in the last year set the success of the Arkansas affiliate apart from that of other organizations. One obstacle for many clients is transportation, and a mobile outreach program removed barriers to career workshops where access barriers and hesitancy exist in the community.

Another initiative they created last year was a Youth Workforce Development Program. The Arkansas group was the first for any program in the global Dress for Success Network. Through the Youth Initiative, a group of next-generation brand ambassadors are learning the internal workings of a local nonprofit, beginning an immersive soft skills experience for career development and exposure to financial literacy at an earlier age. The program aims to shift a generation who will hopefully take those skills for earlier job acquisition and influence peers. Many believe you change a generation by giving them earlier access to the skills they need for success.

In addition to the workshops and classes, Dress for Success has a clothing boutique of gently used women’s professional clothing where clients can get curated interview attire through a Suiting Appointment. Once a person secures a job, they can return for a week of clothing appropriate for their day-to-day job.

 “People often don’t realize that something as simple as a new, unused bra or a handbag can give a person great confidence walking into an interview.”

Each session is one-on-one, and the staff and interns work with the client to curate appropriate attire. The team will give the client the clothing, walk them through a process of accessorizing, and begin to speak about what they like about the clothes and how they make them feel. The team works with clients leaving homelessness, prison, challenging economic circumstances, varying layers of sobriety, and many looking to improve their financial status.

The Dress For Success team wants to use this boutique experience to begin the restoration process of personal development alongside professional skills. Currently, the boutique serves only female clients, but male clients can participate in any professional training experience.

How Can Someone Get Involved with Dress For Success?

If someone wants to start working with Dress for Success, they can call the office or reach out through their intake process and meet with a case worker. Each appointment is a one-on-one experience exploring the client’s goals and how the team can help them succeed.

Additionally, Dress For Success desires to continue to build partnerships with community and statewide nonprofit organizations that serve a similar clientele.

How Can Someone Support Dress For Success?

Others may hear all this and see a way for them to support Dress For Success as a corporate partner, event sponsor, volunteer, Intern or facilitator. If that is you, they encourage you to contact their team.

  • Serve and volunteer – be part of the team at Dress for Success by answering the phone, helping with administrative tasks, preparing for events, or sorting and stocking the boutique.
  • Sponsor an upcoming event or the daily work of the organization.
  • Donate toward the boutique – gently used clothes and accessories or overstock from boutiques, clothing departments or department stores.
  • Community Partnerships – local community members capable of teaching classes, mentoring or other organizations with resources they can share.

Additionally, many opportunities exist for events in 2024, where event planning teams and sponsors are already working on details and experiences.

Learn more about Dress For Success, Arkansas

Website | 479-877-6910 | DFSnwa@dressforsuccess.org
Socials: Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn

Meet the

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Keisha (Pittman) McKinney lives in Northwest Arkansas with her chicken man and break-dancing son. Keisha is passionate about connecting people and building community, seeking solutions to the everyday big and small things, and encouraging others through the mundane, hard, and typical that life often brings. She put her communications background to work as a former Non-profit Executive Director, college recruiter and fundraiser, small business trainer, and Digital Media Director at a large church in Northwest Arkansas. Now, she is using those experiences through McKinney Media Solutions and her blog @bigpittstop, which includes daily adventures, cooking escapades, #bigsisterchats, the social justice cases on her heart, and all that she is learning as a #boymom! Keisha loves to feed birds, read the stack on her nightstand, do dollar store crafts, cook recipes from her Pinterest boards, and chase everyday adventures on her Arkansas bucket list.

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2 responses to “Dress for Success, Breaking the Cycle of Poverty”

  1. Bill Stovall says:

    Unless one has been personally exposed to the hard to break cycle, they likely have no idea of how great is the need of a program the likes of Dress For Success.

  2. […] societal issues such as poverty, social inequality and political/social unrest can also be sources of stress. Socioeconomic disparities, […]

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