Female empowerment initiative secures Walmart funding

Walmart isn’t the first place that comes to mind as a destination for professional business attire so at first blush it was a bit odd to see the company affiliated with a group called Dress for Success Worldwide.

That said, there is more to Dress for Success than meets the eye which is why Walmart, in keeping with its female empowerment objectives, contributed $500,000 to the organization with week. The funds were presented during a special event held in conjunction with the Walmart Northwest Arkansas LPGA Championship.

Dress for Success is commonly known for providing professional attire to women-in-need for job interviews, but the organization also addresses every phase of a woman’s career - from being unemployed and searching, to recently employed and adjusting, to gainfully employed and succeeding, according to Walmart. It is the career development and employment retention programs and services that are the cornerstone of Dress for Success, which each woman experiences in the organization’s Career Center.

The $500,000 grant will be distributed among 15 Dress for Success affiliates to either establish or enhance their Career Centers, the dedicated workspaces located at the primary suiting location where Dress for Success clients receive career guidance.

As part of Walmart’s and the Walmart Foundation’s Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, plans call for helping 200,000 U.S. women from low-income households gain access to job training, education, career counseling, and mentoring to increase their employment opportunities.

This $500,000 grant comes on the heels of a $2.5 million award that the Walmart Foundation gave to Dress for Success earlier this year in support the organization’s "Going Places Network by Walmart." That funding supports six 12-week sessions of the program over the next two years at 60 Dress for Success affiliates. The specially-designed program helps unemployed and underemployed Dress for Success clients gain professional skills, accelerate their job searches and build confidence through weekly training sessions, one-on-one career coaching and networking in a supportive environment.  The GPN launched in 2011 as a result of an initial $2 million grant from the Walmart Foundation. To date, 4,500 women have completed the GPN nationally, with about 41 percent of the women securing employment upon completion of the 12-week program.

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