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April 1 & 2, 2017

Community Spotlight: Dress For Success Outfit

There's something to be said for that old adage, "When you look good, you feel good." And it's what Dress for Success has built its own success around, empowering and inspiring women to present their best selves, inside and out.

Since 1997, the global nonprofit has helped more than 925,000 women work towards financial self-sufficiency by providing them with not just professional attire, but also a network of support and development tools to help them thrive.

Integral to its mission of encouraging financial competency and confidence, Capital One is helping to fund two upcoming initiatives, Going Places Network and Financial Education Programs, for Dress for Success® Worldwide-West. Both programs aim to provide Dress for Success' local clients with the resources to land and retain jobs while educating them about finances.

"We're helping women discover their own true greatness," says Xochitl Hernandez, Director of Dress for Success Worldwide-West (Los Angeles). "Capital One's commitment to community is why this is such a natural partnership."

The skills to land the job

More than 50 percent of the nonprofit's clients in Los Angeles, mainly unemployed or underemployed single mothers, come from areas with a more than 25-percent poverty level and a 50-percent unemployment rate. Nearly six out of 10 L.A. County women in the workforce are not in full-time, year round jobs which cause their median yearly earnings to drop to $27,462, significantly lower than earnings of men in the county, the state and the nation.

However, "The women that we help are work-ready," Hernandez says of the clients who are referred through more than 160 community partners. "If they come from domestic abuse they've already received therapy and they are ready to come back, or if they are homeless they already have those basic needs met and now they can continue onto their work journey."

That is where the Going Places Network (GPN) comes in. The specialized nine-week, 10-step program is designed to equip women who are actively seeking employment with interview and job-readiness skills. Dress for Success clients gain access to the career center to meet with coaches to re-evaluate their resumes and be paired with mentors. Throughout the duration of the program, clients are expected to come outfitted in professional attire provided by Dress for Success. "Every time they meet it's a dress rehearsal because you have to be dressed for the job; it's as if you're going to work," Hernandez says.

Ongoing financial education

Support doesn't stop with job placement. Capital One has backed the funding for a second program, Financial Education, a 13-week interactive initiative that helps women who've already secured a job manage and invest their earnings. Topics include setting financial goals, basic banking, budgeting, investing and retirement management, credit management and emergency savings—eight milestones specifically selected based on the needs of the women. "We have to train from very basic levels," says Hernandez. "Some of the women might not have a checking or savings account, so these are some of the areas where they need our support."

A confident future

"I'm more than excited to be able to provide these programs to the women that we serve," Hernandez says of implementing the Going Places Network and Financial Education programs in the coming months. Dress for Success Worldwide-West also has its sights set on suiting more than 1,700 women this year.

Capital One Café in Westwood hosts Dress For Success® Professional Women's Reboot Program graduation on Sept. 28, 2016. Photo by: Trisha AngelesDress for Success® hosts their Professional Women's Reboot Program graduation at the Capital One Café in Westwood on Sept. 28, 2016. Photo by: Trisha Angeles

Hernandez looks to continued support from the Capital One Cafés for being a welcoming space to host programs and events. The Cafés serve as a hub where communities can gather for local non-profit events, education workshops and face-to-face conversations, all while learning how to recharge their financial outlooks in an experience built around them. Cafés have previously hosted various affairs for Dress for Success including a volunteer recognition ceremony and graduation for a mentoring partnership.

Hernandez notes, the most rewarding part of the program is when a client says she was able to negotiate a bigger salary because of a workshop. "When she's dressed in her suit and accessories… it's like reclaiming her dignity as a woman," she says. "She is valued, worthy and empowered. Clothes give us a sense of, 'I can do this!'"

For more information on Capital One's community efforts, visit
capitaloneinvestingforgood.com

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