By Mia Johns, Executive Director, Dress for Success Austin
About Dress for Success Austin: Dress for Success Austin strives to empower women and to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and development tools to help them thrive in work and in life.
How has your organization had to pivot/adapt during the pandemic? Did the change impact the people you serve, if at all?
Two weeks into the pandemic, we moved all of our services online. Our services require a high-touch environment to form close relationships with clients. In an effort to maintain those personable relationships, we created the Path to Employment mentoring program so that clients could receive one-on-one assistance virtually. We also continued our image consulting by offering clothing packages for pickup based on client clothing preferences.
How has the impact of your organization changed due to the pandemic?
Since the pandemic, we have increased the number of touchpoints by 25%, meaning we have more units of service. This increase has yielded more clients becoming employed because of the additional services they receive through all six of our workforce development programs.
Can you tell us more about the Path to Employment program and how the funds from the Moody Foundation grant were used for this initiative?
The Path to Employment program is a one-on-one mentoring program delivered by volunteer mentors through Google Classroom. This is our most successful and impactful program, and because of that, it involves a lot of staff to deploy. The Moody Foundation grant has allowed us to maintain program team salaries, provide necessary technology to clients and enable a high-touch atmosphere that is necessary for clients’ success. Within 90 days, 85% of clients who graduate are obtaining sustainable employment.
How do you hope this program will grow in the next several years?
Through the Path to Employment mentoring program, we have seen great success with the mentor/mentee pairings and a positive outcome for both parties involved. We have already seen significant growth in the number of clients served throughout 2021 and are anticipating to grow by at least 10% in 2022 and even more in 2023. Learn more about our programs on our website: https://www.dressforsuccessaustin.org/.