Walmart’s grants support US disadvantaged women

June 19, 2013 - United States Of America

New grants from Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are “Paving the Way Forward” for Dress for Success Worldwide to help the organization better assist women across the United States along their path to self-sufficiency and economic independence.

The $500,000 in grants 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. This new initiative was announced in a special ceremony at the Walmart Northwest Arkansas LPGA Championship.

Dress for Success is popularly known for providing professional attire to women-in-need for job interviews, but the organization addresses every phase of a woman’s career—from being unemployed and searching, to recently employed and adjusting, to gainfully employed and succeeding. 

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 Career Center the very first day she walks through the doors of the nonprofit.

These grants to Dress for Success support the goals of Walmart’s and the Walmart Foundation’s Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, one of which is to help 200,000 U.S. women from low-income households gain access to job training, education, career counseling, and mentoring to increase their employment opportunities. More information on this initiative can be found at

Paving the Way Forward will increase efficiencies within, and develop the long-term sustainability of, the Career Center services through a three-pronged approach:

Acquire, Improve, Update. This capacity-building program will enable Dress for Success affiliates to make any necessary improvements to their Career Centers, such as acquiring the appropriate tools and physical resources to ensure that its Career Center is running at optimum ability, such as computers, printers and software—or even designating a physical space for those affiliates who are in the process of establishing a Career Center.

Increase Womanpower Hours. Affiliates will be able to increase the hours of current part-time staff members or to engage the services of a consultant. This will help to provide a structured learning environment for Dress for Success clients hoping to conduct self-directed job searches; receive one-on-one support drafting résumés and cover letters; practice interview skills; and access online professional skills training courses. With this additional staffing, the Career Center will be able to implement two workshops selected from the Going Places Network by Walmart curriculum.

Leadership Lessons. Paving the Way Forward will support new affiliates attending our annual Affiliate Leadership Conference.  The lessons learned during this three day workshop retreat will assist the leaders to more effectively and efficiently serve the women of their respective communities.

This $500,000 in new grants comes on the heels of a $2.5 million award that the Walmart Foundation given to Dress for Success earlier this year in support the organization’s “Going Places Network by Walmart” (GPN). 

The GPN funding supports six 12-week sessions of the program over the next two years at 60 Dress for Success affiliates.  This 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.

“Our suiting program helps every Dress for Success woman look the part for job interview, but our Career Centers help her become the part,” said Joi Gordon, CEO of Dress for Success Worldwide.  “With the support of the Walmart Foundation, ‘Paving the Way Forward’ will allow us to assist even more women become confident professionals.”

“The Walmart Foundation is pleased to expand our support of Career Centers at Dress for Success,” said Crosby Cromwell, Senior Manager, Walmart Foundation. “These centers help women build the confidence to succeed in their careers and in life, which is at the cornerstone of Walmart’s efforts in Women’s Economic Empowerment.”

In addition to Paving the Way Forward and the GPN, Walmart has a longstanding history with Dress for Success Worldwide.  The retailer has supported Dress for Success Worldwide with in-kind donations of clothing, volunteer projects and event sponsorships. In response to the organization’s need for plus-size clothing, Walmart manufactured and donated thousands of plus-size suits under the George label for Dress for Success.

The company has also supported the Success Summit, the leadership conference for Dress for Success clients who are members of the organization’s Professional Women’s Group. Fifty of Walmart’s senior female executives have also worked with Dress for Success clients participating in the Success Summit for eight months of one-on-one coaching as part of the Leader to LeadHER program.