Archives For April 2014

Dressing for success

GUEST BLOGGER: Tori Dost, Framingham State University (

“Going Places. Going Strong” – that’s the motto inspiring the work of Dress For Success. This emphasis on forward motion is reflected in all of their programs, which focus on providing disadvantaged women with the resources they need to become upwardly mobile. “We focus on helping each woman prepare for the journey ahead of her, and our concern is where our clients are going, not where they’ve been.”

Dress for Success is an international organization with 130 independently funded and operated affiliates around the world, established in 42 states in the U.S. While Dress for Success is best known for its suit program, in which women seeking employment receive their own free suit to wear to interviews and to keep, the organization also ensures that women do not simply land a job, but also begin a career.

Their career centers offer resources to search for jobs and enhance their job-related skills, including an Internet-accessible computer lab, resume and cover-letter writing assistance, and mock interviews and interview preparation. In addition, the Going Places Network by Walmart gives Dress for Success clients more opportunities to gain hard and soft skills necessary for success in the workplace. Finally, the Professional Women’s Group offers women professional development trainings, with topics including communication skills, financial planning, family management, and more. Some affiliates, in their Professional Women’s Group, offer one-on-one intensive career coaching through A Hand Up Coaching (AHUC). Through a combination of these programs, women in difficult financial situations are given the tools necessary to change the lives of their families and themselves for good.

For so many clients, Dress for Success has not simply provided them with the attire and skills to compete in today’s job market. For many, like Madeline from Cleveland, Dress for Success restored her faith in herself and her abilities. “It helps me see all of the positive qualities I possess, and empowers me to excel not just in the workplace but also in all areas of my life. I want to be the best I can be.” Every day, Dress for Success is reacquainting women with their potential to succeed.

Helping neighbors in need for 50 years

GUEST BLOGGER: Tim Esterdahl, Communications Director, Inter-Faith Community Services

In 1964, our founder Maida Navis had a dream to fill the gap between federal governemnt aid and the working poor. This dream is now known as Inter-Faith Community Services, the largest nonprofit in Colorado. We have stood the test of time and now see our role as greater than ever.

What has made IFCS last? Simple, our impact is felt every day by thousands of individuals, families, and seniors. For those struggling to make ends meet, we are the safety net to keep them from falling deeper into a cycle of poverty that is nearly impossible to break.

IFCS faces a unique issue every day – suburban poverty. This type of poverty is different than the pan handlers in downtown Denver. Our clients are unseen. They aren’t standing on the street corner. They are out working, trying to make a living while facing a world with escalating costs for food, transportation and health care.

For them, they are stuck in an unenviable position. Quite often, they make too much money for the government support that would improve their lives. Yet, they are constantly scrapping together pennies to pay their bills. Unable to further their lives, they are stuck. If they lose a job, get sick, or their vehicle breaks down they are really in trouble. For them, we are their safety net.

What makes our mission so much harder is all the politics surrounding what we do. Each day, we are at the crossroads of differing opinions. Why? We have clients that are immigrants scared of deportation, others who are uninsured under-insured, others who can’t afford college tuition, and single parents trying to get SNAP benefits. We stand at the forefront of all of these issues without prejudice or political motives. In simple terms, we help those who need help regardless of who they are.

For 50 years, our mission of helping our neighbors in need has been our guiding light. Our work is continually focused on it and our donors and friends count of us to see their donations going directly to those in need. We are proud to say that 91 cents out of every dollar goes directly to our clients.

Join us as we celebrate 50 years of making a difference, each and every day. With your support, we will continue to serve those in need and bring stability to our entire community.

Ending Homelessness in New Jersey

On March 25, 2014, three staff members of Monarch Housing Associates, along with other advocates to end homelessness from across New Jersey, had the opportunity to help shape the state’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness.  The State Interagency Council on Homelessness held a public hearing that gave testifiers the opportunity to make recommendations to the Council.

About 60 individuals attended the hearing, which was held at the NJ State Museum Auditorium in Trenton.  They addressed Council members including the State Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable and Department of Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez. 

Many of the speakers referenced proven strategies for preventing and ending homelessness in their recommendations including

*Housing First
*Rapid Re-Housing
*Centralized/Coordinated Assessment Systems
*Public Housing Authorities Prioritizing Homeless Households

Monarch Housing Associates is a mission-driven, results-oriented nonprofit located in Cranford, New Jersey.   Monarch works statewide with the vision that everyone will have quality, affordable, permanent housing that fosters freedom, independence and community integration.  Our mission is to expand the supply, accessibility and variety of affordable, permanent supportive housing through development, planning, advocacy and partnerships.

Monarch develops partnerships with public-private entities and the non-profit community through our mission driven programs focused on Ending Homelessness, Housing Production. and Public Policy.

Click here to read more about the hearing and testimony.

Students tackling inequality of opportunity in the U.S.


“The Final Four” — Though that phrase usually refers to the basketball tournament that ended this week with the University of Connecticut’s double crowning as NCAA champs, another exciting competition is just beginning to heat up.

The students in my Nonprofit Giving course at Framingham State University have narrowed their pool of grant applicants to four promising organizations in the greater Boston area. These four are under consideration for up to $10,000 in funding, thanks to generous support from the Learning by Giving Foundation. (See prior post about how the class is addressing the growing opportunity gap in the U.S.)

The four nonprofits are:

1. School on Wheels of Massachusetts — educates children impacted by homelessness by providing academic support and one-on-one mentoring so children can reach their full potential.
2. Roxbury Youthworks — helps youth caught in cycles of poverty, victimization, and violence to transition successfully into adulthood.
3. Dorchester Youth Collaborative — engagess high-risk youth in relationships and projects that promote their psycho-social development, as well as the health and safety of the community.
4. United Teen Equality Center — nurtures the ambition of disconnected youth, encouraging them to trade violence and poverty for social and economic success.

Yesterday, the class visited School on Wheels. The other site visits will take place over the next couple of weeks. Then comes the BIG DECISION – where to give the $10,000.

Stay tuned for details!